The event described in this post was pivotal to me in my early childhood. So powerful that it has held a stronghold on me to this day. Fortunately I have learned to live with the resulting fear, something that often holds us captive in daily living.
As with every summer, my family and I would go camping. Always once, sometimes twice. On this camping trip we were camping at Lake Cachuma. This was our favorite place to go at the time, and we would go camping at Lake Cachuma every summer for at least 10 days. My sister, brother, and I all loved it. The countryside was beautiful, the air was always clear with blue skies and I don’t believe it ever rained when we were there in the summer. The entire area was, after all, always quite arid.
On one of the days, as most, we walked down to the lake for some water fun. Although now that I think about it, how much fun can you have in a lake where swimming is not allowed, as the lake was a water reservoir. I guess when you are only 8 years old or so, that all doesn’t matter as much. We were camping, we were together and we were having a great time.
My dad was most likely fishing, as he always liked to do. Although strangely enough, he did not like to eat fish. Talk about an oddity…someone who likes to go fishing, but doesn’t like to eat his catch. Like father, like-almost son, that being myself who also decided I didn’t like to eat fish. I didn’t like the taste, and never have. I also actually never liked to go fishing. The squirmy worms that I needed to stab onto my hook, and their obvious pain and anguish as the hook pierced it’s body. At some point, I decided to no longer bait my own hook, so someone else did it for me. When I would actually catch a fish, I didn’t want to touch it. I do remember touching the fish initially, trying to grab hold of it. But I was grossed out on how slimy it felt. The fish was so squirmy and strangely odd to me that I really didn’t like any part of it, let alone kill it for my consumption, or anyone else’s.
The day was going on as usual. Family at the lakeside, dad fishing, mom probably looking for cool rocks, Gib throwing rocks into the water and doing a great job to make them skip. Gib was always good at throwing rocks. Actually Gib was always good at throwing anything, including baseballs, until he broke his shoulder diving for a catch while playing High School ball.
Kath was probably doing a little bit of everything, most likely watching me to make sure that I didn’t get myself into any trouble. I’ve always been one who likes to push the envelop of safety. There is an adrenaline rush that keeps me going in doing so. Kath was, and always will be my ‘security blanket’.
I remember there was a large rock on the lakeshore. A rock large enough to stand, and even seat two children on it’s surface. This rock was half submerged in the lake water and I liked standing on it’s edge to peer into the waters below. This is where the trouble occurred…
As I stood close to the edge of the rock, and inched my way closer to it’s downward curvature into the water, my parents and sister warned me about the possibility of slipping off it’s dry surface. “Be careful!”, I heard. “You’re going to slip into the water.” ‘No I wasn’t’ I thought. I know what I’m doing. I can do anything and be ok. I will be just fine…until I wasn’t.
Yes, I slipped from the rocks surface into the water. The water wasn’t terribly deep at the slipping point, but it was enough to submerse most of my body. The water aspect was no big deal to me, as I have always been a good swimmer. However, knowing that I wasn’t supposed to be in the water, and now experiencing the tactile grossness of being surrounded by green moss, I immediately tried to get myself up onto the rock. This is where my world changed.
The side of the rock that was submersed in water was covered with moss. Green moss. Fish loved the mossy areas because there was a lot of oxygen in these areas. The moss was slimy, and very slippery and I had nothing at my dispense to gain traction to get myself out. I remember trying to use my submersed hands to get a grip on something that I would then use as leverage to swing a leg up onto the top surface of the rock. Nothing worked. Everything that I touched in my effort to help me was green and mossy, and slippery.
Of course my parents and sister came to my rescue to help me out of the water. Their action was immediate, yet in the few short seconds of me being on my own, the green moss turned my experience into a harrowing memory that haunts me even as I write.
The green mossy lake became my childhood monster. The green moss wasn’t just at the lake, it was everywhere.
I began to notice that moss grew in large and small bodies of water. Moss grew in shallow bodies of water that did not have adequate natural flow, where water was stagnant. I was mesmerized with the sight, and grossed out at the same time. The green moss had taken me captive and I had become it’s hostage.
Immediately, my paralyzing obsession led to all bodies of water, big and small, with the one exception of swimming pools. Unless I could clearly see the bottom surface, and unless I knew the water was chlorinated and completely clear, I would not go into the water. The ocean had different sliminess to it…seaweed and other gross slimy plant life. This too became a big NO for me.
My creative and vivid imagination gifted me with an extension of this green mossy lake fear when it entered my dreams. Oh yes, throughout the years I have had dozens of ‘green mossy lake’ dreams. Each dream is different, and each dream I ultimately, and inadvertently, fall into the mossy water.
My green mossy lake dreams will be posted under the Dreams tab. I have penned them all throughout the years, so I have plenty to transcribe. While the green mossy lake event produced an obsessive phobia in my being, the mossy hue has also become my favorite color. Very interesting. Maybe this is how I have been able to cope with this fear, to be able to face it with something that is positive for my being. Perhaps a sub-conscious effort to manage the phobia that has literally consumed me in thought I am when near water. Although I will not intentionally put myself in a situation to be surrounded in watery green moss, the green moss has found it’s way to surround me, even while I am not near water. For as long as I can remember, the green mossy color, or olive is my favorite when it comes to clothing. Hmmm…very odd realization of truth.
The Green Mossy Lake dreams continue to this day. Though not nearly at the same frequency as when I was younger, fortunately!