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  • Writer's pictureCamp Goldston Publishing, LLC

Keep Swimming

Traci and Marlon Hayes


It’s easy to instruct someone else not to give up on their hopes and dreams, but it’s not so easy to soldier on in our own lives. There are times when it seems as if life will be a consistent string of losses and failures, making one feel as if the prize will never be won. Dark thoughts emerge, and quitting may seem to be the best option. Trust me; I’ve been in that state of being on more than one occasion.

I’ll share a couple of my own stories, as well as the feeling which comes from enduring the worst storms and emerging from them into a world of sunshine and rainbows. It has been proven to me time and time again; after the darkest night, the sun will always rise.

My wife and I experienced a dark shift in our marriage about four years after we shared our loving wedding vows. I had gotten hurt on my job, and she took on all of the financial aspects of our household, which added a little bit of strain; most of that was my ego. This setback came just after I’d made a couple of dire financial decisions, which placed us in severe debt. The financial part of our union was on shaky ground. Also, my wife was experiencing severe health issues, which ended our quest to have a child together. It was a blow, but I felt as if it must have been God’s will, and I tried to shrug it off. Instead of her issues bringing us closer together, I retreated from the possibility of a deeper bond, seeking solace and comfort elsewhere.

Things went from bad to worse, and we became two not-so-polite strangers inhabiting the same space. During our challenging time, I was attacked with a knife by a supposed friend, and it was at that moment, I knew I needed to change some things. I forced myself to look at the crumbling foundation of my marriage and realized how much I needed my wife in my life. Unfortunately, my epiphany was almost too late.

We went out to dinner to discuss our marriage, and she said she did not want a separation; she wanted a divorce. I felt all of our shared hopes and dreams fading away, and I asked myself if divorce would make either of us happy. The answer was ‘no,’ but how does a couple on the precipice of destruction save or restore their marriage?

We talked over dinner that evening, and the conversation was full of emotional outpourings, accusations, and recriminations. As the reality of divorce grew closer, we both realized it was not the prize we signed up for. We cautiously backed away from the edge of the cliff, and we began the new job of rebuilding our foundation, one day and one step at a time. Things got better slowly as we began to adhere to rules which hadn’t been in place before. Communication was a key, whether good or bad, and open transparency about all things. We also discovered and became great believers in one truism about our marriage; keep us to us. We kept our business between us, whether spiritual, financial, or romantic, which turned out to be the new foundation we needed.

That was five years ago, and the journey has not been easy. Laughter and love are the languages we converse in, and even arguments dissipate like smoke in the wind because a disagreement is a small thing compared to the Empire of Us, which we have built together, brick by brick. Yet, sticking to the tenets of our covenant has brought us to a place where we never thought we would make it; happiness. It’s not perfect by any means, but a new foundation has been created for endurance.

In another aspect of my life, I’m a creative person, a writer to be exact. In my career as a writer, I’ve learned not to let rejection or someone’s opinion of my work get me down for long. I taught myself that everything ain’t for everybody, and rejection may happen because whatever the written piece was, it might not fit with a particular publisher or magazine. Yet, the same rejected story might be a perfect fit somewhere else. It’s all subjective, and I keep going, achieving soul-satisfying acceptances and contracts, because, as I said before, light follows darkness, and every defeat means the victory later will be much, much greater.

I think of folks inside a ship, chained together and bound for a grim existence as slaves in a new world. I think of children snatched from their mother’s arms, to be sold away. I think of folks getting spit on or hosed by police or having to fight off dogs just to be treated as human beings. In my moments of doubt and darkness, I think of my ancestors… and my inner light glows because I know endurance is in my DNA. It will be alright… eventually, as long as I keep swimming.


Marlon Hayes

Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, poet, author, husband, son, and father from Chicago, Illinois. Find his books on Amazon, and follow him at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook.

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