Leaving on a Jet Plane
I feel a bit bereft at times when I am away from home for the week – not only for the obvious reasons of not being with my family – but from the blogs perspective of not being able to add new images I have taken this week.
Even though this is a very one sided conversation and a little like public masturbation – it is an incredibly addictive medium and is very like writing a diary used to be for me.
My diary story is not too interesting, but due to the fact that it is the end of the working day and I have 8 hours till my flight leaves Colombo tonight – you are going to get it.
In September 2001 (the same day as my sisters birthday) I had a rather life changing car accident whilst driving home from dinner with a client in Manilla. Anyone who has driven in the Philippines will tell you how it is there but they may not tell you that the major roads have a lorry ban between 6am and 7pm every day; so that in the night the roads are full of large lorries with drivers generally cranked to the max on a local chemical called Shabu Shabu to keep them awake as they rush to make a delivery.
I don’t remember anything of the accident or the following two weeks and so woke to a changed world that had me piecing together not just the last two weeks but due to losing all emotional connection to everything and everyone in my life – present and past – I also had to relearn how to care about anyone. Brain damage is a strange thing – as it is generally permanent but you also have an amazing capacity to remake connections using other parts of the brain over time.
The next year had me acting for 100% of the time – acting that I was better, that I was competent at work, that I still loved my girlfriend and family and acting that the massive and random memory loss I was living through was not a big deal.
At this point I came as close as I ever want to come to being one of the bag people you see living rough on the street. I was so consumed with conspiracy theories as to why the accident had happened and could never come to the belief that I was in any way responsible for the accident.
The following April I continued to a prearranged marriage with my girlfriend that was never consummated and never should have been allowed to happen. I never have blamed anyone for allowing it to go ahead and am not starting now – but to say I was not well and not in a good frame of mind is an understatement. I guess it tells me that I am exceedingly good at acting. As my now wife and I were living in separate countries, the charade I was living was probably easier to manage but I also can’t help thinking that she must have been exceedingly blind not to notice that I was not the same person.
Towards the close of the year my role in the Philippines was coming to an end and I was talking about moving to Hong Kong for work and living with my wife.
The only problem was that since my accident we had never really been friends.
We were not close and physically had had no contact at all since before the accident.
So I made a choice, very selfishly but extremely necessary as I was only healing very slowly mentally. I would go away for a month to be on my own where no one knew me and I could meet people for the first time without them asking me if I felt ok with a concerned look on their faces.
As part of my rehabilitation I had started climbing to help my damaged hands recover and so I went to southern Thailand to live on the beach and climb for a month.
That month changed everything for me. I was happy for the first time since I had had my accident and I started a diary, first just to record my climbing, and then as I became confident in re-reading my piffle, I started to record how I felt and what was important to me.
From my month away I then took a year off work and life and climbed in Thailand, New Zealand and Australia and wrote diary after diary about everything I saw and felt and lived and the process of recording my life became as important a part of recovery as the freedom of meeting people for the first time and learning to care about others again. It was also an important time as this was when our marriage was annulled and the rather sad chapter was closed for me.
These days I am very happily a husband, father, son and brother and don’t write a diary any more.
But, this is where this blog fits in now.
Like a diary it is one sided and I am sure I re-read it more than anyone else.
It is also a cathartic process and having written for the first time ever about the darkest period of my life, I feel unburdened and also emotionally very charged. I don’t talk about this period of my life and so this is the most I have ever said in one place about what happened.
I don’t expect people to read this or if they are silly enough to do so; to make comments. Like a blog should be – this is my home for my thoughts and ideas and where I get to show what is important to me.
And so for that reason alone, it makes sense that most of the pictures I post and probably will ever post are my family and those I love.