Hitting a wall

“Be a part of something bigger than yourself.”

This has been the way I have approached life. When I came up with the idea to swim across Lake Michigan almost a year ago, the sole purpose was to bring attention to an illness I knew little about at the time that I suffered from it. Fortunately or unfortunately, sometimes something big has to be done to get people to really understand or at least pay attention. Mental illness is difficult to understand. I still don’t understand it fully and I suffered from it.

As a secondary “bonus” to doing the swim, Jeff and I felt that it would be something that would bring us closer together. To do something that would challenge our minds and bodies. We knew that it would be an uphill climb. Especially with trying to balance our home and business lives, but we were up for the feat. Like I said, I tried to live life bigger than myself. But…

This week we hit the wall… literally. Our rigorous training schedule with trying to balance business and family life was just too much. Jeff and I realized we were looking into the face of a stranger each day. We had lost touch and our relationship was suffering. Jeff is one of the most loving, optimistic, funny, people that I know. You rarely see him in a bad mood. When I’m down, he always seems to be up, which really helps when you are having a bad day. This week I lost my fun loving husband and I was too caught up with my own issues and stress to notice. Jeff’s words that he felt we were living a lie by giving the impression to those supporting us that our relationship had come full circle, and that we were stronger than when we started this journey, when we were really worse off… cut me like a knife.

But I soon realized, coming full circle is exactly what we had done. Our relationship was suffering as much as it was right after the children were born; without the realization that it was happening. Did we really not learn a thing? This monumental task had challenged our relationship on every level. The only difference was that this time we were asking for help and people have been there for us beyond our wildest imaginations.

We spent some time talking yesterday with little resolution and today we were on schedule to do a 22 mile swim. Last night I had a sleepless night with tremendous anxiety that was affecting me physically and mentally. In the morning, I was not in the right place to complete a 13+ hour swim, but I knew I had to do it. We started the swim like we usually do. The lake was relatively calm, but shortly into the swim, the wind picked up and the waves increased. My stomach issues would not subside and we started to talk. We walked in the waves and talked and talked and talked. It was the first time we had connected in a long time and we realized we were doing exactly what we were supposed to do.

Based on our planned schedule, we did not have the perfect swim, we physically did not meet the challenge before us, but this whole journey is nothing without our marriage intact. We feel stronger physically and mentally today than we ever have. We feel re-energized and with our huge to do list and swim before us, we know we will be successful.

In what way, we have yet to find out, but I think the best is yet to come.