October 25, 2010

Letter to a Shark

Hi my name is Erin Jane and I am afraid of sharks. Today while surfing I had a complete mental break down. Everything scared me. Twigs. Turtles. My own foot. I practically jumped out of my skin at the sight of a small leaf. I kept tucking my arms up under my body and holding my feet high in the air. I almost started to cry. I decided to get out of the water and just watch. I was embarrassed and defeated.
Ever since I was a small child I have had a shark phobia. No, I am not just scared of sharks- I have a full on irrational fear of sharks. It extends all the way from the beach to my house and even into the depths of my covers. As a small child growing up in the middle of Texas I dreamt of sharks swimming right down through my ceiling and chomping me in half. It is madness. The other day I even went so far as to describe sharks as "land hunters." What? If that isn't completely bonkers I don't know what is.
After living in Hawaii for several years I gradually got over my selachophobia (much to the dismay of my parents who witnessed stress migraines caused by the neighborhood pool). I even went on a shark dive a few years ago. However, I still have rules. I can't swim alone. I have to be closer to shore than someone else (hopefully the shark will eat them first) I can't go far from the shore. I can't swim in cloudy water...etc. Lately, my fear has been rearing it's ugly head once again. It doesn't help that I watch a couple of shark attack videos on youtube everyday. At first I told myself I only watched them to educate myself, then I started to rationalize that I just thought they were interesting. Lies. I have a deep dark obsession with water beasts and I can't stop thinking about how it would feel to get my leg chomped on.
So today after taking a warm shower and throwing myself facedown on my bed I decided to write those pesky sharks a letter. This is an old relationship tactic I use when I need to say something to someone but can't find a way to get it out. So here it goes

Dear Shark,
I have been very afraid of you (and your friend orca whale) for most of my life. Swimming in pools, lakes, rivers and more importantly, oceans, has never been very easy for me. I know you don't think you are being mean when you bite people and stuff but no one likes it. Everyone is getting really frustrated with it. (and by everyone I really just mean me). I'm not trying to be condescending or anything but I don't think it would hurt you to think of others once in a while. I think of you everyday. I go out of my way to do nice things for you, like pick up garbage on the beach and boycott oil spilling gas companies. So please, do me a solid and don't bite me (or my husband). It will really be appreciated. And please know that I don't have any hard feelings against you. I just want to keep my hands and feet. Hey, maybe I will see you around. (Hopefully I am in a cage or you are behind glass). Until then, just think about it.
P.S. I'm still scared shitless.
Image credit: Christina Vantzou


Kylie said...

sharks suck

Klissa said...

What is a Mother to do ??? I wish you would have written that letter a long time ago. Love you!!

Dallas said...

I never think about sharks when I'm surfing or windsurfing, ignorance is bliss, I guess. I got some fun waves at Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai last week. Wish you could have been there! It was HUGE, 12-15 feet, but I wanted you to know that I wimped out on several waves for 45 minutes...not because of sharks, just because I'm a wussy. When I finally got in my groove the onshore wind had turned it to crap. Everyone had gotten out except me and it had turned into a toilet bowl with waves coming every which way and I couldn't stay in the line up (the sharks were probably circling too.) I ended up getting out with only a couple of waves, and I got caught inside four or five times. I was freaked out a couple times when I took off and there were BIG turtles near me! But, hey, any day surfing in Hawaii is a good one, right?!? - your Washougal neighbor

Natalie Toelupe said...

lol! If I learn't any lesson from '50 First Dates' it is that "sharks are like dogs, they only bite when you touch their private parts" Yes that's what they said. that and 'don't smoke turtle weed' :D

Owls go hoot said...

I laughed out loud the whole way through reading that! I've had a long fear or sharks too (and spiders). I jumped out of a blow-up boat a few summers ago while in the sea to have a little swim and my dad started doing the Jaws theme tune and I was practically crying with fear while trying to scramble back into the boat!

Love your blog, only just stumbled across it!

Amanda Tippetts said...

Funny funny! Grandma's pool housed sharks when I was a kid. The deep end was totally off limits. I get it. Good luck! Be strong!

Jess and Chris said...

My husband and I attended byuh about a year ago and sadly have been back on the mainland for almost a year now. i LOVE reading your blog because it makes me feel a little more connected to our laie "home", that we miss and daydream about almost daily. on that note, i too am completely, irrationally afraid of sharks, and loved this letter. also. i busted up at the very last line. perfect summary! hahaha! love your blog!