If you were at the beach as a child you may remember the feeling on being ankle deep in the ocean water and, as the waves were approaching, the previous waves would run underneath (the breaking waves) in the opposite direction. This gentle current, or undertow, gave the unique feeling of gliding as well as testing one's balance and then possibly falling into the water. Ocean conditions seem obvious by looking at the water and waves, but what we don't see clearly is the undertow. While the undertow can be more problematic for children or less experienced swimmers, to get back to shore, the larger concern is the rip current which looks like a calm path of water between two breaking waves, but is anything but peaceful. Rip currents affect even the best of swimmers.
In my practice I see individuals, couples, and families trying to navigate a range of currents. Some are ankle to knee deep in an undertow, and others are reaching out for help when they've been pulled into life's rip currents, trying to gain some control as they lose more and more energy after fighting so hard to avoid being swept deeper into the water towards the ocean floor. When they arrive to therapy, the desperation to make it back to shore is so great, that it takes time to adjust to the pace needed to start understanding that calming oneself, while not swimming against the current, is essential to making it back to shore. And at times, it's the letting go, accepting vulnerability, and trusting that before the current brings them back to shore it may be that the waves pull them further out to sea where there is calmer and safer water. At that point, one's energy can be restored, panic is not getting in the way, and judgement becomes easier on how to move with the flow, not against, and allowing to see more clearly what's ahead to support getting back safely to shore.