Underwater is where We Learn to Swim Have you ever heard the cliché “underwater is where we learn to swim”? It's such an ironic statement because one would think that it’s on the surface where we learn to swim.
However, in life, I’ve discovered that it's in the depths of the water where we learn to adapt and thrive. It's when we are given no other option but to survive, the strength to keep moving forward can be realized, even when the future may seem hopeless. I used to think I had it all together. I thought I had life all figured out.
After growing up in the Midwest relatively poor, my love for programming computers quickly raised my social and economic status. I lived in prestigious Calabasas, California with my first wife, our two kids, and two dogs. I was the owner of a successful software development firm. I was living what I thought was the "American Dream." But one day, my world was turned upside down. My wife of nearly two decades blindsided me with the news that she wanted a divorce and was moving 1300 miles away to Portland, Oregon with our kids. I was completely devastated. How could this be? I had worked so hard to give them a life that I never had.
That wasn't the end of it! Just a week later, my grandfather, who was also my father figure, unexpectedly passed away. And when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they did. My mother, who was my rock, also passed away without warning, just six days after wishing me a happy birthday.
I am the perfect example that the right series of unfortunate events can lead anyone down the dark path of addiction. I started hanging around the wrong kinds of so-called friends who gladly introduced me to drugs. I used them to numb the pain and try to forget about my problems. I wanted badly to escape the reality that the people I loved most were gone. I thought I could control it. The drugs made me feel so good while at the same having me oblivious to the fact everything around me was falling apart.
I left everything behind. My business, my house, my car, my true friends, and even the rest of my family. I hit rock bottom. I was drowning, I didn't think there was a way out. But that's when I learned the lesson that underwater is where we learn to swim. It was in the depths of my despair that I found the strength to swim. I realized that I couldn't do it alone and that I needed help.
I went to rehab. I started therapy. I joined a support group and attended meetings regularly. I learned that I wasn't alone, and others had gone through similar struggles. Most importantly, I learned that recovery was possible. It was NOT easy. It took a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment. I had to face my problems head-on, confront my demons, and take responsibility for my actions. I set attainable goals. And with each step I took, I felt stronger and more empowered, which in turn gave me more and more reasons to not look back.
Today I am proud to say that since I chose sobriety, I have rebuilt my life. I found true love and I’m happily remarried. I’ve re-established a relationship with my kids and family. I’ve reconnected with my true friends who graciously welcomed me back, and I’ve made a lot of new ones too. I am on a new, more meaningful career path in social work so I can help empower others who are struggling with the resources they need to get their heads above water. I am more happy than I have ever been in my entire life. I share my story with you today because I want everyone to know that no matter how dark things may seem, there is ALWAYS hope. Underwater is where we learn to swim, and it's in the depths of our struggles that we find the strength to overcome any challenges that are thrown our way.