In the face of heartbreaking loss, we all have our anecdotal means to deal with the fallout and the pain. Some seek refuge in the warm and comforting support of family and friends, working through the grief, hoping to come out the other side with acceptance that is married to a positive outlook for a brighter future. I’ve always tended to meander hopelessly back and forth between the polar extremes of recklessness and safety; recklessness that was destructive and devoid of value - a quick dose of procured dopamine here, a slash of easily sourced serotonin there - all a means to avoid dealing with the hurt that I was feeling. If I wasn’t searching for a ‘hit’ (not the type you’re probably thinking of), I was shrinking into the relative obscurity of safety in the form of tired old routines. I was in denial that I had (and have) a very real problem that I should probably seek to manage with a more effective game plan. As with the recklessness, this clinging to safety was equally devoid of any real value. In hindsight I have learned that both of these approaches were and are symptoms of my ongoing inner battle, wrangling with the challenge of Bi-Polar Type II Depression.
If I get to heart of it...last year, my world fell apart.
My relationship and my love - the one I believed to be the final destination of all my special and most cherished loves - ended just shy of 9 months ago. I cannot find the words to adequately describe the depth of my desolation and despair when I took a phone call that would drastically alter the path that I was on. Her words carried such crushing weight and definitive finality. After 6 wonderful years sharing countless adventures with the love of my life, it was over. It is only fair to point out that we remain close friends who love and care about each deeply. Such was the heartfelt nature of our relationship that we could never not be close and call each other allies, come what may, until the end. I'll apologise to no one for wanting her to be happy, regardless of how much our separation hurt me. After all, just because we didn't work out the way I wanted it to, doesn't mean I can't want the best for her and appreciate that we managed to salvage a meaningful, loving friendship instead of nothing. That's just the way I am. At the time of her phone call, I felt what years earlier I had promised myself I would never again allow in my life; the distinct sensation of chemicals swelling and shifting dramatically in the depths of my body, the kind of toxic concoction that registers a sense of pain without any actual pain (least not in the physiological sense). It was a powerful - and certainly unwelcome - lesson on the power the mind holds over the body. Cartesian dualism is what I have come to understand it as. In my mind, there is no term strong enough to describe the inescapable reality of what I felt in the ensuing moments after that phone call. Simply put, it was pain. Pure, undiluted and all-encompassing pain. I recessed into a black hole while becoming distant and hollow. I forgot who I was and forgot to stand tall.
A lot has changed since then.
I'm piecing things back together. Moving on and getting over as they say. Planning for a different future that I hope to make as bright as the life that came before. With the love, patience and support of my family and friends I managed to salvage some silver lining; the dream to grow old in beautiful, blue sky Wanaka, New Zealand remains. After much reflection this site will change too. I need to reckon with the damage done. I need an outlet that helps to stop the thoughts and words crashing into one another within my mind, forming clusters of random thoughts that bear little resemblance to anything constituting clarity. I need to write about my experience, the experience of my past and the experience still to come. The focus will still be my unwavering love of everything related to the adventure of travel, and I look forward to sharing that with you. But I want to start being real about my place in that world. In the past I’ve tried to make this page resemble what I wanted it to look like, instead of just showing it for what it is.
To quote my father, “real life is good enough.”
When people say they err on the side of caution, for me that cautiousness tends to lead to a state of full blown procrastination, doubting if what I want to say sounds good or reads good, treating my story as far less valuable than I should give it credit for. I double guess myself a lot.
The truth is, I just like to write about what I experience. In that sense, I guess it’s an open diary, experienced and narrated by me to share with you. Those of you that know me well will know that my best words come from the heart. When I really care about something, I seem to find a way to say it. Maybe you’ll find something meaningful in it, maybe you won’t. The important thing is I need to find the kind of meaning in my experience that makes me feel the way I ought to. I’m just going to keep on with the adventures, collect an abundance of photos/video, write about the good and bad of being me, mix it all together and tell the story as it unfolds.
I’d love for you to join me on my next stop to Nepal. I’ve decided I'm going to hike to the base camp of Annapurna, raising money and awareness for those whose stories include mental illness. It's a cause that has significant meaning to my life and one I'd be thrilled to assist with. If you would like to take part by spreading the word or making a donation, please follow the link provided in the comments section. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
Just because my life with my love ended, doesn’t mean my life has to. My adventure must go on.