When I began my journey way back in November 2012, I had something of an agenda which is much different than today. I spoke about ‘finding myself’ in my About Me page and knew I had very real issues, both emotionally and physically. My hope was that as the trip progressed, I would find some kind of solace from the past and become a better person. Truly, I needed to learn to like myself before I could be of any benefit to either society, or anyone unfortunate enough to try and understand me. Love, well how could I ask for love if I couldn’t even love myself?
This trip has been an incredibly difficult journey for me, of which I have described the physical aspects pretty well in my blog, but only shown brief glimpses of the real battle that was going on. Initially I didn’t even mention my cancer or the real illness – my depression. Believing I had to concentrate fully on the cycling and engage people with how fascinating this aspect was, that became my main focus when writing the blog. Yes the cycling is what most people want to hear about, so why bother with anything else?
As I have travelled I have opened up, talking for the first time about many things I have never discussed before. Not even my closest friends knew about many of the demons I was desperately trying to exorcise. But truth is my demons, inner strengths and physical battles have actually guided me through life and made me into the strong character I am today. Yes I have moments of weakness just like everyone else, then I use one of the blackest episodes in my life to give me hope, saying to myself “if I can come to terms with this, then what else can harm me.” If you think this is all a bit dramatic, then consider this: it was not until my friend Ruth told me to go for Christian counselling (following my attempt at suicide over the death of my wife) that I learned about my childhood. I had virtually no memories from before the age of 14 as my mind had blotted them out. The counselling exposed them, but that’s another very painful story for another time. How many people could cope with that at the age of 53?
So why am I writing all this, why tear up the picture of a strong man doing incredible things that undoubtedly many of you have built of me?
Because I HAVE changed. I have become a more complete person. I’m no longer the selfish guy who left England on November 13th 2012. Not only do I now share my story, I share everything I can. My goal now is to give something back. In fact it’s become much more than a goal, it’s become a burning passion. Yes I have cancer, yes I’m pretty certain it’s going to kill me, no I don’t want this to be what people remember me for – a man fighting bravely against a hidden and deadly disease. I’m not brave at all, I’m almost pissing myself with fear.
I want others to know this, not put me up on a pedestal to be admired. So no more pretending. I’m going to tell it like it really is, speak out about what I’m really going through. The physical pain is easy for me to deal with, as since I was a child I have always had a very high pain threshold, but what it’s doing to my mind, well that is the real battle. Speaking out I hope will not only help me, but the hundreds of people who now message me. As my journey continues this is really what will inspire me to finish it, to reach the end.
But wait, there’s more. I have absolutely no idea how much longer God will allow me to wander on this earth. I have tried to make my peace with him. Do you know the only thing I have ever asked him for? to take me instead of Caroline, my late wife. I now ask him for something else, because for the first time in my life I truly believe I will be able to accept it and not corrupt it. And now I am being selfish, because what I want is for myself, to prove I’m deserving of it, capable of nurturing it.
I want to know love one last time.