Going Through The Wall... A Story of Hope and Inspiration

For anyone reading this....the term "Going through the wall" has a particular significance to me from my childhood. As a competitive swimmer beginning at the age of 6 and coming from a family dysfunction that completely undermined my ability to have any faith and belief in myself....and the fact I had un-diagnosed ADHD in those terms...created a situation where I was singled out in my family as the "one" who could not be trusted. I was the only one in my family, where all other family members (but particularly my parents) that had no faith and trust extended to. Not only that, but discouraged, but down beneath, held back, and sabotaged by everyone who refused to believe in me or believed that I could never do anything for or by myself. The only thing they could see from this narrow perspective was my failures and nothing else. This disabled me, not from having ADHD, (which in my mind is neither a disorder nor a disability )..... but from ONLY this false perception itself. What happens when you someone refuses to believe in you...is you begin not believe in yourself and doubt your own abilities. The damage that this false belief had to my sense of self worth and self esteem cannot be fully realized by anyone who has not had this experience. Only to say, that if you grow up in an environment, where no one will believe you and you have to prove everything "first"....before you are allowed to move forward or even given the chance.... this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy for the non believers. At the very heart of this mis-belief ....when I became a victim of this kind of mental and emotional abuse as the effect in the untold damage this causes you..... comes the story of courage and personal triumph and faith.

As I recall the many times, as my swim coach ( Mr Rod Harmon ) a man who was instrumental in my healing and repairing the damage done to me and restoring my own personal faith.....would pull our team aside and give us his little motivational speeches to. And one in particular, that he shared with us as we sat on the cold pool deck huddled around him went something like this......

"The human body is an amazing thing. It is capable of feats that go beyond your imagination. It can withstand an incredible amount of abuse, and can repair itself to better than it was before hand. There have been times in history, when humans in the face of great adversity and to save the life of another human being in countless situations of catastrophic events, that can summon within them a power that goes beyond there own capabilities and limitations. There have been accounts of those who have lifted cars off the ground in order to save the life of someone trapped or being crushed underneath them in order to free them and save that persons life. In these moments...that person digs down deep inside them and finds a strength that they never knew existed."

As he continued this story, he related it to swimming and in those moments when your body starts to fail and the "bear jumps on your back." (as the reference in those terms) To gain a better understanding of what he was talking about....this is the moment of truth for any competitor when they come to that wall.... where your mind is screaming for you to STOP.... from the excruciating pain you are feeling from the blood leaving your arms and legs and your body is beginning to fail you.

To continue as he on with his speech..... "When you body hits that wall....it's the time to not listen to what your mind is telling you. Your mind is responding to your body since you are now going past the point that it has enough oxygen to stay alive if you continue further. It is sending a message to you mind that says you are dying...but in reality, it does this way in advance of that ever happening. In this case, your body is lying to your brain and you have a huge amount of lee-way before you would ever get close to doing any damage to yourself."

"The difference between winning and losing any race...comes in the last 10 yards and when you reach that wall. Most anyone can make it to that point and the race will be even up to then.....it's the person who can endure this pain and go through the wall...is the person who will win the race in that last 10 yards. To do this...you must summon the same power and courage and believing that it's possible....in order to go through the wall and win."

From the first time I heard this story...and heard it repeatedly for the next 10 years of competing....I had never managed to find it in myself to do what he had said. And because of this....my status and times reflected my inability to find a way through. For 10 years I tried....and for that many I failed to do so. It was not until the day...that I began to believe in myself....did that ever happen. On this day.....something came over me and that I cannot explain...but it may be likened to the story of the "Grinch" where his heart grew beyond it's size and the courage that comes to you when that happens.

As it was....I was entered into the meet by the best time I had previous. This place me one heat behind the last heat...where only the fastest swimmers competed side by side. I did have the fastest lane in the middle of the pool which meant the competitors next to me were only slightly slower than the best time I had ever recorded. And as it is with swimming, once the race begins....you can't really hear much beyond the sound of water rushing in your ears...as well as being able to really see who next to you or where the other swimmers you are racing against. But as any swimmer knows who's sitting on deck resting... playing cards... or reading magazines while killing time between races. When you her the noise of the crowd slowly getting louder and increasing in volume....you know something big is about to happen and everyone rushes to the edge of the pool to witness the event about to happen.

And as it was for me....when swimming in this particular race (100yd Backstroke)...I began to notice something different which told me the same thing. As I approached the final wall before returning to the other end of the pool.....I began to notice other swimmers lining up along the edge of the pool. I then began to hear the crowd noise coming over the rushing in my ears. When I hit the last wall on my return and pushed off....I saw my coach standing right above me circling his arms and whistling over any other noise I could hear. I knew immediately what that meant since he only did this when you were ahead of the fastest recorded time at that point and you potentially were going to go below it and set a new one yourself. At that point in the race....I only had 15 yards to go.

This was the first time in over 10 years that I had ever been in that position before. I had watched my coach do this countless times with other swimmers and now....there I was....and there was my coach animated and excited and encouraging me to go through the wall. And that was the moment he had been talking about that I had been there countless times before but had never made it through. This time however.....I heard the crowd....I saw my fellow competitors lining up to "see something" (the term used on the inside for this situation) ....and my coach standing there confirming that they believed in me and believed I could do it. And because of this kind of encouragement....I could not let them down.

And as I came to understand in the next 8 seconds of excruciating pain.....that it was worth every ounce of pain and suffering I had to endure. This was when I fully realized my own potential...and the realization of the story that I had heard so long ago. I went though the wall, and set a new record. One that had stood for over 11 years from a guy that I had always looked up too from below....and only dreamed of ever becoming as fast as he was. And when that happened to me....I was no longer below anyone ever again.  The time that I recorded not only set a record...but it beat everyone including all the fastest swimmers ahead of me which earned me 1rst place.

From that day moving forward....I knew that if I stayed with it and didn't quit....I could go through that wall again each time I came to it. It only takes once to know that it is possible.....instead of believing it might not be. But what it took me to get there....was just one person who believed in me and believed I could do it. All I needed was one person to do this for me....and from time moving forward....I could do it for myself and need no one to this for me ever again. At that point....I believed in myself and I believed I could do it any time I made my mind up to do it whenever I really wanted to. And as this holds true to this day......I just did it again with my wife.

As of this morning after a huge fight we had about this very thing only last night when I refused to back down and made her listen to me to me and went through the wall.   In this case...I came to her in the last 10 yards and made a believer out of her.  How I did this is less important to getting her to actually believing in me...and that's all I need her from this time moving forward but this time unlike any other..... she trusts me understand and the reason why. I can sense the weight has lifted and the room fill with the same air of triumph for the both of us, I can taste it...and I know that flavor when it's in my mouth. For my wife and I.....it is the taste and flavor of trust and believing and I know that one without a shadow of a doubt:)