Where do you go when your world is crumbling around you? When lockdown prevents you to escape home even though your home was torn away from you by something so insidious that you never saw it coming?
In May 2020, my partner of nearly 10 years, the father of my toddler left our home without so much of a goodbye. The last weekend with spent together as a family was an ordeal, I would not wish on anyone. The outside world had stopped, lockdown was in full swing and my home was slowly becoming my prison, although at the time I did not know the words to use to describe what was happening to me, I was living under coercive control.
A trap which with insight was so carefully orchestrated – drop by drop – that I did not notice the pool in which I was being told to drown. I remember that last night in flashbacks only, me hiding alcohol, the sounds of objects being thrown in our bedroom, my silent prayers that he would not wake our sleeping child, lights being switched on as I tried to sleep on the couch, space being denied as he drew closer to me, more menacing by the minute, the fleeting moment when you look at his eyes and see it clear as day that he could harm you, maybe kill you if only you gave him a reason.
As the police became involved, a trial date set, I needed a safe place, a new horizon. Organically, the sea offers that escapism, a horizon which offers no limits, a splash of coldness that brings your soul back into your body and gives you a sense of individuality. Something that simultaneously connects you to the wholeness of the world and the singularity of your experience. I loved the hidden power of water, of the sea, of waves crashing and humming, sometimes quiet, sometimes in a fury but never apologetic of their power, their fluidity, always unapologetically present, always confronting you to yourself and giving you the desire to survive in harsh conditions, of reaching the shore knowing that you have been inexorably transformed by the experience.
After the first day in court, spending a gruelling grey December day giving evidence against my ex-partner, dissecting elements of intimacy one would never ever think of discussing as evidence, I cycled to the sea and slowly walked into the sea in my swimsuit. The cold immediately felt protective, telling me I was alive and I was strong, quieting my mind and bringing focus to the sensations in my body rather than the constant fury in my head. At that moment, I remember feeling a sense of calm as my heart released its sorrows and the sea, as soothing as a mother’s embrace engulfed my pain and showed me the hint of a horizon, a future where freedom was once again a possibility. From that moment I knew that wild swimming had become my way to find peace amidst the chaos and the serenity needed to grieve.
For help and advice for women in situation of domestic abuse, here are some useful links: