This blog will be open and honest. Please read it throughout, as there are many things that I want to share authentically. I write this with the sole goal of honestly expressing myself and hoping that anyone else who has suffered in a similar way or is suffering can take from my own experience.
On the 18th of March 2015, my dad passed away following a battle with cancer. He had been very ill for a while unbeknown to me and sadly passed while I was on a family holiday in Orlando. I had visited him a couple of times before he died in order to make my peace with him as we had a very turbulent relationship, to say the least.
Then, exactly six weeks later on the 18th of April, my mum died, too. After a five year battle with many forms of cancer, her pain was finally over and she was free. For around ten hours, I sat by her bedside and watched as she slowly succumbed to her illness. I held her hand and kissed her goodbye as she finally took her last breaths.
Watching her die was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I had an amazing childhood with my mum she was loving, caring, honest,and all you would want a mum to be. She worked her socks off for us and made sure she gave us all we needed with bucket loads of love. I could always go to my mum when I had problems. She loved and cared for me and my three sisters and she did a splendid job bringing us all up while my dad progressed his career.
Due to many external factors in the final years of her life our relationship had deteriorated to the point of no contact and it was only a couple of weeks before she died that we made up. Thankfully I got to spend four hours with her just the two of us catching up once again. before she fell fatally ill.
The knock-on effect of these double deaths for me was horrendous and for the next nine months, I wandered through what felt like a minefield of emotions in my mind, body and life. Out of nowhere, the grief would come and engulf me then ultimately, the darkness would descend and the emotional storm would begin.
Depression and Destruction.
The following depression, destruction and anger would lead to bouts of alcohol, food and self abuse. Very bad habits were formed during this time, I just didn’t care any more. I would never really be present in situations. I wanted to sleep all the time, felt pressured just to live from day to day and I removed myself from relationships, becoming insular and disengaged from those around me.
I was very angry at life and this manifested in many ways but mostly in me being unapproachable, lazy, hugely negative and generally someone you would not want to be around.
I really did not know what was going on or how to deal with it and as the days passed into weeks and months, the downward spiral just grew momentum. in the last week I have read through online assessments for depression and I ticked all the boxes
I shared some of it with close friends and tried to make myself get on with life. I booked holidays to cheer me up. I self medicated with daily drinking and tried to eat my way to happiness. I forced myself to exercise but these session were sporadic.
My life was pretty much in ruins and even though I was surrounded by love and friendship, I felt sad, lonely and isolated. I tried not to be this way but I always boomeranged back. Inconsistency became my new best friend. It’s the best way to describe my performance; I would take one step forward and five steps back.
There were areas in my life that were massively important to me that had broken down: my health, fitness, relationship with food, productivity, buzz for life and intimate relationships were all oppressed by the way I was thinking, feeling, acting and being. It really was a terrible time.
There is a detailed back story to my relationship with my Dad. Up until Sunday 10th of January 2016, I would have described him as a violent, alcoholic bully who tortured me mentally, physically and emotionally for years. This perception has now been transformed all due to a course I attended.
I write this from a place of emotional contentment and a crystal clear position of freedom.
Between the dates of 8th and 12th of January 2016, I attended the Landmark Forum which is a four day group coaching program that is available across the world and has been delivered to over 2.4 million people.
This wasn’t my first “Rodeo” and it won’t be my last. I have been working on me in this way for just over four years and I doubt it will ever stop. I’m heavily invested in this process purely so I continually become the best version of myself as I mature further and journey through my lifetime. To say these 100 hours of “transformative learning” has had a profound life changing effect on me would be correct.
There have been so many positives that have come from attending this course my anger, aggressiveness and at times bad attitude I portrayed, have completely gone. I am able to communicate like never before. My productivity, effectiveness and overall leadership skills have improved. I am able to be fully present in situations and enjoy the moment and best of all that heavy ball and chain which was my past that I had been dragging with me everywhere I went has now gone. The breakthrough I have achieved has been truly amazing.
As I said earlier, my opinion of my Dad was that he was a violent, alcoholic bully who tortured me mentally, physically and emotionally for years.
The facts around this are true and there is no excuse for bullying and abusing a child. For years, I was angry at being attacked in these ways and it played havoc with me emotionally. As I grew older, this led me down a road of alcohol and drug abuse, crime and self-harm.
In the end, I became a paranoid wreck. I worried about everything. What I said to people, how I presented myself, what everyone thought of me. I analysed everything and made up what I now know to be a completely false reality. This false reality became my life and I was stuck in this negative fortress.
I spent most of my time living in my head, torturing myself within my own thoughts and mind. This was my reality for around fifteen years of my life.
Everything in my life was arranged around the “story”. I am the way I am because of what happened to me. I allowed the abuse to define me and essentially rob me of ever being truly happy or for that matter ever truly present in life.
I am not condoning what my Dad did; I’m just looking on it from an alternative, more compassionate perspective. He had many demons of his own to deal with which resulted in him being ferociously addicted to whisky, tobacco and being hugely depressed for most of his life. He lived in a bottle and had no control over it. This type of toxic living altered him as a person, fuelling his own anger at life and inability to express himself.
The Younger Me
I was a very angry and misunderstood child who was very emotional and had a terrible temper. I would freak out regularly, usually in some form of violent way, always resulting in me getting physically beaten for what I did wrong.
My Dad in his career as a Detective Sergeant in the Criminal Investigation Department would have witnessed many young boys like me grow up and lose their freedom as young adults through anger and violence. He certainly went about beating that out of me in a brutal way. I then, in turn, made this out to mean that he didn’t love me, and chose to reject me.
I now see that he was, in a strange way, trying to make sure my life turned out different. It was the way he watched everyone being disciplined as a child and perhaps didn’t know any better.
Our relationship had many arguments, fights and battles and it was pretty much that way from when I was big enough to fight back and not take any more of his physical assaults. The verbal and mental stuff continued with me fighting back at every opportunity and making every visit to the family home an angry one. Eventually, enough became enough and I removed him and the rest of my family from my life. It was causing so much pain and anger I thought I had no other choice.
The Letter That Set Me Free
Above is an overview of my perception of how I saw my life then. Below is the letter I wrote to my Dad and read out in front of one hundred and sixty people during my forum. The sense of completion and emotional freedom I gained from this is very hard to explain.
I am sorry for all the hurt, pain, anger and frustration I caused in my life. I realise now in your own way you were trying to keep me safe and make sure I didn’t destroy my future.
I also realise that a lot of your own anger and frustration at not understating certain things was channelled in many wrong ways. I want you to know I forgive you for that because I know how you felt and I understand.
I have an amazing life surrounded by love, light, joy and happiness. I have a beautiful wife, two gorgeous kids and loyal friends. It all makes sense to me know.
You know what some of the best bits are? I have created an amazing existence using all the personality traits you and mum gave me. For that I am forever grateful.
I’m making a promise to you today that my boys, your grandchildren will know just how awesome you were.
You always taught me that in life if you are big enough to bring a person into the world then you better be big enough to look after your child until it’s big enough to look after itself. No matter what I did wrong you may have got annoyed and angry with me but you never gave up on me even when I caused a lot of trouble for you in your career and in life.
You and mum made me a spectacular, handsome, happy, loving and generous human being with power beyond measure.
Look down on me pride knowing your my dad, you created me and you made me the man I am today
All my love, respect, complete understanding and forgiveness
I had never talked about my Dad in this way ever before. It’s amazing what a bit of compassionate, authentic feeling and writing can do. I also wrote letters to, and called other family members that I have no real relationships with any more. Not looking for forgiveness or to justify my actions; only to take responsibility for my part in it and to apologise sincerely.
Always Being the Victim
I also realised that a lot of my life had been spent in the fortress of this story and due to the coaching we were given, I was able to see that I had been avoiding taking responsibility for my actions. I always made him out to be wrong and at fault which then justified my purpose in having to be right and always win the argument. If I was right, then he couldn’t dominate me. With deeper reflection, I now realise that I have spent a lot of my life in that fortress always being the victim, always having to be right, justifying everything to make me right and fighting to avoid dominance by anyone. Until now.
The Truth Will Set You Free
Through this new found freedom achieved from attending Landmark Forum, so many positives are occurring. I have a much more positive and excited outlook on life. I am truly reconnecting with those I love and care about. All through being honest, sharing openly and expressing myself fully. What I am experiencing is remarkable. I feel happy, excited, content and I have a new level of understanding I’ve never experienced before.
The Lighthouse in the Storm
My life has had many dark and desolate times. I’ve walked, crawled and dragged myself through this dark lonely and scary place and now I feel completely free and truly ready to start living life. The storm has passed and we have sailed to safety thanks to the strong beacon of light that was my lighthouses.
I would like to recognise and thank all the people who were there for me throughout this. My amazing best friend, soul mate, wife and a woman who is a remarkable soul: my Julie. To the friends who were and are there for me (you know who you are); to my crew for taking care of business in my absence; and to our students standing by me. I love, care for and respect you all.
It’s the end of this part of the story and what I can look forward to now is a realm of new possibilities for me. I know that I may journey into more storms in my life; that’s granted. However, now I have this amazing experience to guide me and I have a new level of understanding.
What an amazing start to what I am sure will be the best year of our lives. We have a motto on the back wall of our gym it reads “Strength for Life”. It’s about how working on your emotional and physical health along with fitness and conditioning can get you through anything life throws at you. I endured, I gave in, I got lost, I was depressed, dark and destructive but most importantly…I never gave up. I searched for the answers and I found them in Landmark Forum. I found my own “Strength for Life” and now I am in the midst rebuilding and strengthening the areas of my life that I allowed to deteriorate.
I will finish with a quote by Sir Winston Churchill,
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.
Love to you all,
“Strength for Life”
P.S. If you’re in the darkness then keep going and if you want to talk, get in touch.