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Never Saved Anything for the Swim Back

Something I wrote for my message board at Second Chances (SC), that I thought I'd share here.

“I need to believe, that something extraordinary is possible.”
- A Beautiful Mind

I do believe that extraordinary things are possible everyday. I see it here on the boards, as we all struggle, but every day we still wake up in the morning. We still hope. I see it in the kids I work with, and the miracles that happen to them each and every day. What a life to live, when every day you get to witness extraordinary things. Just as you all do, if you would only look inside yourself.

"Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart."
- A Beautiful Mind

What true words. It's great to be intellectual, to figure things out, to know. But even greater to feel, to really feel. Like with the kids- yeah, I know the principles behind ABA therapy like the back of my hand, but that is not what makes me a good therapist. What makes me a good therapist is the beautiful heart- because it fuels my creativity, and it is my heart that the kids feel, how they know things without me telling them anything. What a gift and discovery.

"People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up there as well. I can't answer the real question. All I can say is, it's easy."
- Girl Interrupted

I haven't decided if I agree with this statement or not. On the one hand- I think- it's hard- to make that decision, to go to the hospital. That decision takes strength and courage, and it is not for everyone. It means you still have hope, and faith...that you WILL get better. But on the other hand, it is easy. I see both sides of the coin- I could be those nurses, in my case, one of the counselors at the hospital, and I could be a patient (well was). It is a fine line. But that is fodder for another post now that I think about it, too long to explain. I would say, yes, it is easy to QUALIFY to be in the hospital, but it is hard to actually go, because that takes a hell of a lot of strength, courage and hope.

There is one movie I continually think of. It was never a blockbuster hit, but it has stayed with me for seven long years. The basic premise is this:Gattaca Corp. is an aerospace firm in the future. During this time society analyzes your DNA and determines where you belong in life. Ethan Hawke's character was born with a congenital heart condition which would cast him out of getting a chance to travel in space. He (Vincent) is also one of the last "natural" babies born into a sterile, genetically-enhanced world, where life expectancy and disease likelihood are ascertained at birth. Myopic and due to die at 30, he has no chance of a career in a society that now discriminates against your genes, instead of your gender, race or religion. So in turn he assumes the identity of an athlete who has genes that would allow him to achieve his dream of space travel. He achieves prominence in the Gattaca Corporation, where he is selected for his lifelong desire: a manned mission to Titan. Constantly passing gene tests by diligently using samples of Jerome's hair, skin, blood and urine, his now-perfect world is thrown into increasing desperation, his dream within reach, when the mission director is killed - and he carelessly loses an eyelash at the scene! Certain that they know the murderer's ID, but unable to track down the former Vincent, the police start to close in, with extra searches, and new gene tests. With the once-in-a-lifetime launch only days away, Vincent must avoid arousing suspicion, while passing the tests, evading the police, and not knowing whom he can trust.

I never forgot this movie. And there was one scene in that movie that makes me not forget it. The movie is Gattaca. Here are some quotes that explain that scene and why it stays with me.

"Our favorite game was chicken. When our parents weren't watching, we used to swim as far out as we dared. It was about who would get scared and turn back first. Of course it was always me. Anton was by far the stronger swimmer and he had no excuse to fail."

Then later, as adults when they swim, and Vincent is beating the odds:

Anton: "Where's the shore? We're too far out!"
Vincent: "You wanna quit?"
Anton: "We're too far out!"
Vincent: "You wanna quit?"
Anton: "No!"
Anton: "How are you doing this Vincent? How have you done any of this? We have to go back."
Vincent: "It's too late for that. We're closer to the other side.
Anton: "What other side? You wanna drown us both?"
Vincent: "You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it Anton. I never saved anything for the swim back."

"It was the one moment in our lives that my brother was not as strong as he believed, and I was not as weak. It was the moment that made everything else possible."
And that is what I think about. That moment. That moment made all the difference. It was then he realized that he could beat the system through hard work, ingenuity and self determination... and hope and faith. And to just keep going. Think about this:

"I never saved anything for the swim back."

When I can't go any further- that is what I remember- for seven long years- that line has stayed with me. It made so much sense. And so I keep swimming, and I keep beating the odds, because I don't save anything for the swim back- because why would I want to go back? That was the old me- the one who submitted, who was abused, who was a victim, who was silent, who helped no one. Go back? No way, I'm made to go forward only. I won't save anything for the swim back. Of course lately, I have just been floating- no energy and whatnot, but the important thing is that I keep going forward, or at least hold it steady.

The tag line for the movie: "There is no gene for the human spirit."
No matter what the hell is in our brain, or how the chemicals are out of whack, nothing can touch our spirit, our hope, our faith, our determination. The fact that we can and will.

I Can
So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, Thou must,
The Youth replies, I can.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It is not length of life, but depth of life."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Depth of life. Too often we are concerned with the length of our life- many times the shortness of life, given our suicidal tendencies. But then I wonder- what could we all accomplish. We have so many people here. So many people with so many gifts- even if you don't know it yet. For those teens that don't think they can make it another day, fast forward five years or so, and what if you too, are an advocate for those abused- you could be the one to instill faith and hope, to let people know they are loved, to get them through this stuff. You could be one person's light in this world. And I am reminded of that every day, whether it's through my little brothers- and my new role of teaching them unconditional love, or knowing that it is my hard work and dedication to Julia that has gotten her the point where she is almost considered "typical" to her peers, despite how low functioning she was at one point. Because I chose life, I've made a difference. And because you guys have chosen life, you are changing lives, including your own.

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like this meaning of for thought, don't you think?

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with in us."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This was the central question at my last hospital visit- what is it in me, that would will me to live. It's hard to explain, I will in another post. But, obviously, I found it. I found the reason for me to live. A little about the not saving enough for the swim back. And as much as I ever wanted to die- I was always so full of life. Just as I see all of you, so full of life.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like this one. I used to just follow, well no that is not true. I was always the leader of something, that headstrong, stubborn side of me. But now, truly in my life, I'm going where there is no path. My hope and faith and my heart guide me, and I'm trying to leave a trail as I go- sorta like these posts. I'm going somewhere, not sure where, but it feels right, and that is enough for me. I know it is the healing path. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't.

And about Self Injury:
"I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites; like my appetite for patterns; perhaps my appetite to imagine and to dream."
- A Beautiful Mind

I thought about self injury when I heard this. Eventually, I just chose not to indulge in those appetites. By the way, he is talking about his hallucinations in the movie. They stayed with him, but he chose instead to ignore them, to not acknowledge them. And he lived a hell of a life. Like we can. We do have so many healthy options at our fingertips, yet sometimes it is so hard to reach for them. And that is what SC is about- helping you reach for them. Because change is possible. Finding yourself is possible. Beating the odds is possible.

"Just remember that I was as good as any and better than most."
- Gattaca

I believe in this statement, and I believe it applies to the members of SC. Just by the mere fact that we are alive- through everything we have been through- we are STILL here, we still wake up in the morning, we still work through our troubles. Some part of us is willing to get help. Sometimes the progress is slow, or even stagnant, but each day that we wake up, we are further along in our journey.

"They've got you looking so hard for any flaw that after a while, that's all you see. For whatever it's worth, I'm here to tell you that it is possible. It is possible."
- Gattaca

The "they" is our parents, or anybody else that has tried to keep us down. It's the basis of the cognitive distortions. We've gotten so good at putting ourselves down that no one has to do it for us. We get told how bad we are over and over again in various forms, that we begin to believe it, without question. You come here- question it. Because we are good, we are great, we do have worth, just by the very fact that we are alive. It is possible- you all see it every day. Come here, you will see it. Look inside yourself- you will see that it is possible.

"I was never more certain of how far away I was from my goal than when I was standing right beside it."

Gotta love this statement, for its truth value. To stand next to your goal, and see how freakin far you have come. Bobb once wrote to me, "I am really so proud of you, and so happy for you, that you "get" it, and I do know that it can't be ungotten. You have changed, and it feels like a miracle to me.”

And then to that I replied:
Why do you feel it's a miracle that I changed/got it?

Her response:
Because it was such a long long road from there to here.

I think that about sums it up, don't you? So many times it feels like I am getting nowhere, that I'm barely making any steps, that I forget to really look back and notice how all the "small" steps have added up. Which is why I write so much, or keep lists or other things- all to remind me how far I have come. Just as I see how far you all have come. I'll use my favorite person as an example- Ashley, I think we've had this conversation about how far she has come. She couldn't really see it when we were talking, so I pulled up a conversation (because I save everything) from two years ago. It could easily be seen then. I think it is so important to see how far we have come on the journey, in that we can gather so much strength and courage to take more steps further. And it's fun to get a smirk when you realize how far you have come. And you can give you cool counselor a miracle before her eyes, that is fun too!

Redemption...Grace...Hope. You never really know what those words mean, they are just words said...until you get a CHANCE. A second chance at that. Each one of us truly knows the meaning of each of those words. I can't describe the feeling I get when I hear the word "hope." Words will never be enough. For something that saved your life, something that grows inside you, something that propels you forward when you think you can't go any further. How you don't save enough for the swim back.

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
-Dale Carnegie

And they kept going, because there was hope all along. I don't know why I wrote this. I meant to write something entirely different. But here are my thoughts. Love 'em or hate 'em!