The conversation at the edge of the water-hole between the young man and his old friend continued.
“So, life was wonderful and you felt positive and optimistic after coming out of that old, dark relationship?”
“Yes, until March 1999 when I crashed. Literally; I didn’t notice a small dent on the cycle track as I headed home on my roller blades at dusk. Falling backwards, I kicked my left knee with my right skate and fractured the top of my tibia.
As I lay on a bridge over the river Maas in The Netherlands, a mum, dad and two small daughters came to my aid. Their images were strange, out of focus. But here’s where my ego took center stage. They offered to call an ambulance and that kindness reminded of the pulmonary embolism that invaded my body back in 1994 after an operation to fix a torn Achilles tendon. I hesitated.
Isn’t it wonderful how the ego serves to protect? There was no way I would go to hospital despite its insistence that I should’ve been in intensive care. Laying in pain, I fought the ego and asked the family to guide me home. Surrounding a stranger with love, they helped me stand and with my left leg off the ground, wheeled me two-hundred meters to our door. I never saw them again but can’t shake the feeling they were meant to be there on that unusually warm spring evening.
I went to the hospital the next day after a sleepless night and left with a hip to toe cast with a six-week prescription. I’d had countless sporting injuries before and was slightly happy with this one because work paid me to recover at home with my amazing family and their unfaltering love and light.
Then darkness fell. I didn’t recover as expected and by the time our second son arrived seventeen months later, I was sitting in a wheelchair. A doctor told us to expect no recovery or exit from the wheelchair, and only high doses of opiates would manage the pain. I felt like an outsider to this world, looking in from a distance while our infants grew into toddlers, started school . . . I didn’t understand what was happening. The medication placed an uncomfortable blanket over the pain, made me weak and vulnerable. The ego ran riot; everything was about me. I tuned inward into a hostile environment, rarely and only briefly would my true self pop up for air.
My family shared their unconditional love our friends rallied, and during one of those clean air moments, I knew the doctor wasn’t right. My soul shouted and for once I heard the distant wake-up call. But, many more dark days followed, my pay went to half and after twelve months down to zero and we were forced back to the UK. The most painful decision we ever had to make.
Even though we had a second daughter by this time, the world felt like a very exclusive place and I wasn’t a member of the club. Not to mention the pain my partner and our eldest daughter felt. That scared me most of all and silent tears, kept hidden from view, tumbled in frustration and, dare I say it? Self-pity; it was all my fault. There was no bigger picture; I loved my partner and our children but had no love for myself. On the scale of 0 to 100, I vibrated below 20.
The medication wasn’t working, the treatments failed, I developed migraine headaches and with this came more medication. A physiotherapist refused to treat me because I was too sensitive, the pain was too great. Go to this clinic, go to that, no time in the day to do anything but respond to the pain.
A grumpy old man, under forty-five. A leading neurology professor in the UK couldn’t find a cure. Why would he? Nobody could. I was a lost cause living under my blanket of darkness and negativity, surrounded by the love of my family.
Occasionally positive distractions fell into my lap and learning took place. I recognized fifteen years ago where I needed to be today, but health, psychological setbacks and medical interventions and misleading diagnoses kept popping up. Each time they did, new learning took place, and I grew. The light beckoned once more; it had only asked that I consider a few things; including what it felt like to be told that I had MS which was later disproved by one doctor, reasserted by another and disputed by me.
Something odd happened in 2005 when we managed a five-week road trip to the south of France from our home in the north of England. A long trip, over 1400 kilometers each way and, it should have been outside my reach. Regardless of the pain determination became a strong ally. The further south we traveled the lower the pain became. There was no logic to this; it was just the way it was, and I didn’t stop to question the accompanying light.
We bounced back and forth every summer for the next eight years. I looked forward to the respite the holidays brought to the painful existence I suffered during the rest of the year. It didn’t seem logical but deep-down, it didn’t matter.
Most of all, the light forced me back to events before 1995. A theme that festered on my mind. Something, and please don’t ask me to explain, told me to forgive myself for what I became. Also, to forgive the other for allowing her to lead and be led by me into that place of pain and misery buried beneath excuses. It’s strange to think I worked in a caring profession but didn’t do such a great job of caring for myself.
That relationship wasn’t the only debt I needed to pay. Thoughts of constructs in my mind embedded long ago danced their dark tangos. Ask for forgiveness, forgive, move on became a mantra as childhood models of reality crumbled, no longer reality, serving nothing. Was this karmic debt demanding repayment? Surely not all this pain if there’s such a thing as Divine love? I asked for forgiveness, forgave, moved on. I visualized the source of my memories, went face to face with confusion, pain and doubt.
There was another subtle shift too. I took treatments, took the love my family unconditionally gave, until one day I realised that I needed to start giving instead of taking. I became for giving and although it was a long painful process of self-analysis before I could begin to move forward. I forgave myself for the pain my selfishness had brought about in others.
Picture the most stunning sunrise you can. Now, imagine creating minds-eye views of your own painful events and confusing models of reality. Only by doing that would it be possible to ask those concerned for forgiveness and forgive everything that forced me off my divine path into an abyss.
People often say, ‘forgive and forget.’ Through doing just that, slowly things changed. Grounding myself in the present I moved forward. Drawn to writing, speaking and enabling, today, the light is infinite. I’m travelling and guided to the place of my destiny with gifts meant for sharing, not burying in a well of self-pity.
Occasionally, I caught glimpses of my personal power while I was sick, and I knew I needed to live a different life. All I needed was to stay positive and loving, focused, balanced and at peace within. Easy to say, acutely painful to achieve.
A telephone conversation with a stranger informed me I am a healer and, this wasn’t the first time I heard this. That was back in 1995. He blew away the good news though by explaining that while I could heal, I couldn’t heal myself. I believed him. The journey might have been different had I chosen to believe I can heal myself. We all can; as tough as it may seem, we have a choice. We are limitless souls with free-will living in human form.
A psychotherapist* summed up where I am today,
Spiritual work focuses more on what is intrinsically right: how we have infinite resources at the core of our nature that we can cultivate to live more expansively. If psychological work thins the clouds, spiritual work invokes the sun. *
I was in darkness rediscovered the light and despite clouds cast over my life that light never leaves. It’s where I and all of us are meant to be. The learning didn’t follow a curve, rather a series of vertical leaps and the hands of the universe never left my back.
So, if I am to sum up three things you might take away from my beautiful and continuing journey; they are these:
As dark as it may get, the light is always there. The Universe has your back.
If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody. Reach out for peace, love and happiness.
Trust your intuition (Divine Wise-Self); it knows what you need. Be patient, listen and pay special attention if you’re sent a wake-up call.
My experiences may have written stains on the lives of my wonderful partner and our beautiful family. I hope not, rather, I hope I will have left them lessons and a road map that shows how the choices we make can lead to a life of disruption and pain. That has been my path, not theirs although they have blessed and crossed mine. I thought everything was about me when we should follow entirely different paths. Sometimes though, our paths are intricately woven on singular threads.
I ride my mountain bike once more and ski as though the skis never left my feet. My body has healed, my spirit is no longer a shadow of its true self.”
The young man took a breath and absently wiped away a tear as he turned to his friend; who had gone. He left with the sunset, reminding the young man that the sun would rise again the next day and every day after.
*Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, John Welwood