From Wave Pool to Lazy River


I have never liked surprises. (Please never throw me a surprise party.)

I can’t sit through an entire movie without wanting to look at the plot on Wikipedia, especially if I’ve heard there is a twist ending.

I don’t like deep or dark water, because I don’t want to be surprised by fish touching me or a shark biting me.

I don’t like fireworks or balloons popping because I don’t like being surprised by loud noises, especially if I don’t know when they are going to start or where they are coming from.

I have done a lot of reflecting on these things, and a lot of work to get over the fear of fireworks. 

What I have determined is that disliking surprises probably comes from two things: wanting a sense of control, and a fear of the unknown.

With everything going on in 2020, this year feels like a form of immersion therapy. I have been thrown into situation after situation where there was nothing I could control and so many unknowns. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, and I’m just hoping that 2021 will be just a little bit better. (I think a lot of people will agree with me.)

This may have been a roundabout way to get to today’s topic, which is how depression and grief can sometimes feel like a wave pool.

But I wanted to give you some context about how I don’t like surprises, because I feel like wave pools are full of them too. 

You never really know where all of the waves are coming from, if someone else is going to be pushed into you, or how clean the water really is.

Plus, the feelings of grief and depression feel a lot like floating or jumping to keep up with the waves without going under. 

Sometimes it feels more literal – some days I feel like my mind is actually just floating around, not really able to concentrate on or stay grounded to any one thing. 

Sometimes it’s just the metaphor I’m trying to describe her.

But when you’re spending your time floating or jumping and the waves finally stop and you feel a bit more in control again, maybe because of self-care that you have worked on or something else, things inevitably happen that feel like the buzzer is about to go off again and the waves are coming back.

  • You see something that reminds you of your loved one.
  • You have something stressful going on at work.
  • Something happens that is outside of your control.

Until you work through the grief and depression and get out of the wave pool, anything can happen, big or small, to prompt that buzzer to go off.

As with a real wave pool, moving against the waves just makes things worse, so you have to try to move with them and wait them out until the next break. 

Unlike a real wave pool, I can only imagine that the breaks will become more longer and more frequent, until the pool is almost a regular pool again, meaning you have worked through the grief and depression. 

I know I will get there someday. I know it’s possible, because I’ve seen other people get through this. 

I know because I’m able to find breaks in the form of self-care activities that help my depression.

I know because I can find joy in things that gives me hope that the grieving will someday not be as prominent in my life.

I will always miss my Dad so much, but I have hope that someday I will get out of this wave pool and head over to a lazy river (which was his favorite part of water parks) and float around there instead where there are still some surprises, but after you go through it once, you know where to expect them each time. (And if you’re walking by the lazy river, you can see everything. You can also see waves, but not as easily or clearly.)

Until then, I’ll be riding out the waves at the wave pool.

Published by allisonljensen

Marketing professional + event planner, grief and self-care blogger.

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