Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Week 7 Sunshine After The Storm: A Memoir

And Then There Was Sunshine

The day I started diving was the same day I vowed that I would never jump from a diving board ever again. Yet, two years later, and there I stood, on the diving board at Oakland University about to attempt the Big Daddy of all dives…at least, it felt that way to me. 

The back one-and-a-half somersault is by no means a “difficult” dive when compared to back two-and-a-half’s, front one-and-a-half double twisting somersaults and other dives. Contrarily, for me, it was the center of all evil; It was the bully pushing me down on the playground and the scorching sun melting my ice cream.

 No matter how many times I tried that dive it yielded the same results: letting go of my legs too early, decades before my coach called me out of my dive, only to land flat on my back, smacking into the surface of the water with such brute force that it felt like my skin was engulfed in flames. The cool depths of the pool had turned into hellfire, quickly burning my heart of confidence, clouding my mind of focus, and emitting self-doubt, fear and hatred. The back one-and-a-half somersault had become my worst nightmare.

Time after time, I smacked into the hellish waters beneath me until finally, my skin wreaked a blissful numbness. I had reached my breaking point.  In that moment I had never hated anything so much as I did that dive. I loathed it, wanted to banish its existence. So it was when I broke the surface of the  waters for the hundredth time and heard my coach Bill say “again,” that I met the task with great difficulty.

Tears stinging my eyes, I clambered back onto the pool deck and made my way back to the diving board. Standing at the end of the board, it felt as thought my bones had been filled with cement. My body refused to move. Visions of myself smacking into the pool played against the white brick wall in front of me. Doubt was written all over my body. But then, amidst the negative thoughts and images, there sounded a convincing voice. “You can do this, Allison,” I thought to myself.  “Just wait for the call.” Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes. Gone were the visions reflective of self-doubt. Gone were the boiling salt-water tears that stung my eyes.  Gone were the visualizations of failure, replaced by an internalized video of success. Beneath my eyelids played a step-by-step manual on how to perform the dive.  All of a sudden, I knew what I had to do. I knew it with all of my heart, with all of my soul. What had been self-doubt morphed to intense focus ant determination. This was my moment, and I was going to own it.

Opening my eyes, I slowly began rocking the board, up down, up down, up down.  After the third jump, I sprung up from the diving board. Fully extended, my knees met my chest, my hands grabbing my shins as I rotated backwards. There was the wall: first rotation complete!  Next step: kick with legs, look back with head, and reach for the water! Entering head first, I cut through the water like a steel blade, puncturing the pools glassy surface as I soared effortlessly into the depths of the pool.

And so, there was the sunshine after the storm.

Swimming back to the pool’s surface, I was greeted by applause and excitement from my coaches and teammates. I have never felt as strong a sense of accomplishment as I did in that moment.

While Hell at the time, this moment is perhaps the most significant moment in my life. Never before had I been tested so mentally or physically as in that moment. From this experience, I gained knowledge about what it means to work hard and reach into further into my soul than I knew existed. But it also taught me about others. This experience is not only about me, but it’s about those who helped me get through a hard time in my life.

Today, whenever I am experiencing a hard time or a dark moment, when self doubt or fear begins to weigh me down, I think back to my days as a diver, and take comfort in knowing that through moving forward, remaining positive and having faith in the people in my life such as family, friends, coaches, etc. that everything will turn out in the end.

And so, there was the sunshine after the storm.


  1. Please see my response to your memoir: "Responses to 'Sunshine After the Storm' and 'Passenger Seat'"

  2. Really nice job developing some good imagery in your memoir. You use an authentic voice that grabs the reader. Add a few more storytelling elements to enhance even further.