Written by Vivian, Never Too Late Team Member
I was out four hundred meters swimming in Lake Muskoka for the first time. It was only my thoughts and I, it was deafening. I had never been a great swimmer. The water was astonishingly deep, and I was beginning to lose energy. I could feel how tough it was to fight to take a single breath, yet there were full minutes of utter tranquility. I was uncertain if I'd make it to the other side of the lake and back, although I knew I had to do this! This was something I told myself I needed to achieve.
What led me here was a trip with a group of people who want to call me family. The lake and the family aren't that different. I equate my life-altering swim with a life-altering change from my past.
When I was young, I felt like I was continuously gasping for air, like someone had been stepping on my chest. It happened again when I entered a point in my life where a family wanted to care for me unconditionally. I felt that same feeling I hadn't felt in years. The air was being kicked out of me. When a group of people let me know they cared for me boundlessly, I felt I needed to escape from whatever terror this could lead to.
Yes, in my mind, this felt like a childhood bully trying to chase me, and I just couldn’t get away. Now, those are fleeting moments of fear. There are also moments of joyous evening banter over dinner, or my family and I watching a film. Ah, a gasp of fresh air without fear, one would call that tranquility.
Did I make it to the other side of the lake, and more importantly did I make it back?
I sure did.
What was the main take away for me?
Emotions are fleeting, and I mustn't react right away.
Once upon a time, I would have told you I would never want or need anyone. I frankly didn't think a family could be significant. Now my paradigm is beginning to change. It's nice having people to talk to when I get inside after a long day. Now I feel as if I have a real home. It's not the roof, it’s the those underneath it.
It's the ones who place their hand on my shoulder. Their fingertips laying on my arm is what lifts the burden of the world. It's the continued familiarity - with the repetitions of tears, grace and understanding.
I now know I can make it across the lake with full faith if I have their hands on my shoulder.
Never Too Late (NTL) is a program on the Adoption Council of Ontario. This article was originally published in the Never Too Late October 2020 Newsletter.