Helping Hand

As I stretch my arms overhead I close my eyes and absorb the sunshine uninhibited by passing clouds. I begin my approach. One, two, three, spring! Assuming the diving position, my body pierces the clear, chlorine treated water that awaits below. I begin freestyle laps.How many meters I wonder, after having watched so many amazing athletes raise the bar yet again of what deserves a Gold Medal? I have no idea. Lap after lap, I lose myself in my movements.
I break, look towards that beautiful sunshine that warms the soul thinking how lucky I am that I have a moment to embrace this instances of beauty. I take a deep breath and plan to resume my laps as a I feel something softly brush against my legs. Odd i thought, why would I be feeling something resembling seaweed found in the ocean in a standard, unoccupied, swimming pool? I look to see what it is when I feel it slowly wrap around my ankles and give a violent pull towards the bottom. Tighter and tighter it envelopes my legs and I find myself lifting my chin towards the sky to take one last final breath. Down I go thinking I must touch the bottom soon, right? Further and further I’m pulled exhausting my previous determination, fight, and will-power to save myself. I struggle, whirling myself in a circular motion hoping to find a way out. I’m panicking. Too many bubbles, To much I can’t see. Which way is up? I’m scared and alone and the more I struggle trying to recover on my own the more confused I become.
Finally my body begins to shut down. My lungs are burning and I know I’m running out of time. Finally, I accepted my fate and conceded defeat. I have lost the will to keep trying. In my mind I’m screaming, ‘YOU WIN ALRIGHT!!!! I THOUGHT I COULD REACH THE SURFACE ON MY OWN BUT I CAN’t. I GIVE UP!!!’
If I wasn’t encompassed by water my face would surely be wet with tears. I let my body go limp, stopped thrashing, and excepted my fate. The water begins to settle almost rewarding me for giving up, when suddenly I see a hand, outstretched, just within my reach. Who’s there? Was that hand there the whole time? With all the confusion and thrashing to get free I hadn’t noticed this hand waiting patiently to help pull me back up. I see that hand and wonder, what am I fighting for? What awaits beyond the surface of the water that I thrashed, screamed, and fought so hard for. What is this constant pull towards the bottom? How do I know I won’t be pulled back down again? That moment, suspended in time, I found myself asking if I thought I was worth saving and whether or not I wanted to be saved. Before it was instinct, a primal urge to survive, but now it was a choice. Do I really want to try again?  Do I want to be saved? I try so very hard to do it on my own, but after all this fighting for survival there was that one hand asking me if I wanted help.
I awoke from my dream choking, sobbing, and asking a dark silent room, why? I think everyone, whether in a dream or reality, is often asked themselves, ‘are we so determined to thrash, fight, and struggle, without asking for help that we would rather be pulled down into the darkness’? Why are we so scared to ask for what we need? I thought about this and came to the conclusion that for me, it is admitting that I’m vulnerable, not always self-sufficient, and hold the phone…flawed. I’m human, being flawed is a prerequisite. Friends and family already know this about me, yet still I feel the need to pretend that I’m always strong, never need help, and… perfect. All the effort pretending to be something I’m not is exhausting, and the only person I’m fooling is myself. Now, please don’t misunderstand, I am not trying to be Negative Nelly, just honest and uninhibited.  I know that I have many moments of great strengthen, let’s face it with this deck of cards you pretty much have to be.  I know that when push comes to shove I will ask for help, just in my own, waiting till the very last moment possible, kind of way.  Either way I have a long way to go when knowing how to ask for help.
I cried for a while after that dream. For what? I’m not completely sure. Maybe I was sad for the times I wasted never asking for help, never seeing that open hand waiting for me to grab hold. Maybe I was upset for the thought I had during the dream of just giving up, admitting defeat, and excepting my fate. Or maybe, I was crying in relief…for that one outstretched hand….just within reach…that I chose to take.

Carly Speelman

Copyright © 2012



  1. Jane Hazeltine


  2. Thank you aunt Jane!

  3. Patti

    Carly, your words are beautiful, intelligent and so heart-felt. I enjoy reading about your journey and find your strength amazing!

  4. Thank you Patty! Miss you and hope your family is doing well!

  5. Rebecca Burns

    Your beautifully written words definitely struck a chord in my heart… so very true about realizing how much we try so hard to do on our own when there are so many hands reaching out if we only ask. Thanks so much for the stories about your journey ~ your words are such an inspiration.

  6. Miss you so much Rebecca! I always keep you close to my heart!

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