Here you are. The one I have waited so long for. The one I wasn’t even sure existed.
I have had so many different kinds of friendships and relationships in my life. I feel like, since I was very young, I have just been sinking. I started at the top, a piece of something. Like my family was a ship, and I was cargo being carried through life by my mother and father, just along for the ride. When my parents got divorced, it was like my dad took the lifeboat, and separated from the rest of us, on his own journey. Then it was up to my mom to steer the ship all alone. When my brother died, it was like a giant hole was blown right in the side of the ship, and we began taking on water. Then, I was thrown from the ship, as if getting rid of excess weight to try and save it from sinking. Only, I was already too heavy to float on my own. I began falling, sinking, clinging desperately to everything I came across on my way down, hoping that someone would grab a hold of me and never let go.
Slowly I found that none of these friendships or relationships, though they may stop me from sinking further, were going to keep me from drowning. No matter how far under the water you are, you will inevitably drown unless you return to the surface. So eventually I would be let go again, but the weight brought on me by all these new relationships just added to the heavy cargo that I already carried. I sank further and further. Until, one day, I hit the sea floor. It was dark and cold. I sat and I reached out my hand, hoping that someone, anyone, would grab a hold and pull me back up.
But that person never came. Eventually, I had to make a choice. I could either rot at the bottom, or I could learn to swim. So I began letting go of the baggage I carried. I let go of the hurt I felt from being pushed from the ship in the first place. I let go of the bits and pieces of resentment I had carried from all those other people letting me go. I let go of the hurt, and disappointment I felt from being left and let down by so many people throughout my life. And slowly, I felt myself rising up. I gained momentum and eventually, I was rising so fast that I knew for sure the surface must be near.
Then, without warning, I felt something grab a hold of me. It was you. You were sinking, just as I had been not so long ago. You were gasping and flailing and trying desperately to swim to the top. I wanted so badly to help you, but I had already come so far myself. I couldn’t let anyone else bring me back to that dark, cold bottom I had already been. I thought to myself “I’m almost there. What if he brings me back down? What if it all stops here? What if we can’t both make it? I had a choice to make. I decided that I would not be like all those other people who let go of me. I wouldn’t give up, or let you weigh me down.
Instead, we taught each other to swim. I taught you how to keep yourself moving and reach for the top. And you taught me that sometimes it’s okay to stop for a second and admire how far you’ve come. Until I met you, I was sure I would reach the top myself, a one-man ship destined to roam alone. But you taught me that the journey back up is just as important as the view once you reach it. How can anyone appreciate what they have if they don’t appreciate what it took to get there?
So we took our time admiring our surroundings as we floated, arm in arm, towards the top. We even spent some time floating around, exploring the area around us. Our trip to the top was nor linear, it didn’t have to be. You taught me that the journey did not have to be strictly upwards, but that we could veer left or right, or follow the current for a while. I had never taken the time to even notice there were so many amazing things surrounding me. You taught me to enjoy them. You taught me that the surface can wait.
And here we are. Now, we have created a ship of our own. And we slowly build on day by day. since that very first day, you have never let go of my hand. Even when I feel myself wanting to jump off the edge and dive right back down, you never let go. You continue to build me up, above the surface and into the clouds. And I am forever grateful that you grabbed my hand that very first day. I hope you know that I will never let go of yours either.
I taught myself to swim, but you have taught me how to float.