The Camino Adventure: The Voyage Home
Wednesday October 9th 2019
The Voyage Home
When you're flying across an ocean and two continents you have quite a bit of time to reflect. This Camino Adventure plus France extension has been incredible. Not without ups and downs like all journeys. But the greatest gift has been the time. The time to heal and process my inner pain and personal growth. I've traveled back and forth over eighteen thousand miles by air and walked over a hundred and twenty miles on foot. I've spent a great deal of time alone and a great deal of time with absolute strangers that have become my friends. I've grown spiritually and relationally and the most inspired I've been in my life. I'm truly in love with The Camino. There's so much more for it to teach me and so much more to learn.
I'm sitting here on my flight trying to make sense of my adventure. What have I accomplished? What answers have I found? What resolutions have I made? What are the fruits going to be from this experience? Well there's many answers to these questions and even more questions to my answers if I'm being honest. And I recommend you buckle up for a gamut of emotions. I'm about to bare my soul with you.
The three topics or "results" to use an umbrella of a phrase are the following:
Faith, Forgiveness, and Focus.
All three of these results have given me anxiety and elation. They've buckled my inner being and challenged my heart and world around me. They've also been so personal that it's difficult to express them in words. They have been like being moved by a sunset or the feeling after being satisfied by a meal. You can relate them to others but really nothing can really approach what those experiences feel to you while you're going through them. Let's start with the "results" of faith on this adventure.
I've been challenged in what I know and what I believe. Only this summer was I so broken-hearted that I had resolved to end my life. At first minus one meal at a time. As that became a more difficult task as loved ones intervened I planned darker methods and even decided on a specific date and time I was going to end my life. Yes this is heavy and yes it's a vulnerable and frail subject. However my veil is torn. There's no pretense or ceremony for me to withhold these painful truths. I had decided I was going to jump off the Saint John's bridge in Portland Oregon, on December 25th at 11:59pm. There I said it! It was a very dark time for me. However please understand I'm not saying these things to rattle peoples cages. For me saying this stuff helps me acknowledge how lost I felt. You see that's the beauty of The Camino. After you've traveled this great distance you can look back and see how far you've come. And as I'm now seeing this at a significant distance I can look back and be amazed and appreciative. I've had many saviors along the road which I've mentioned in previous posts, and I can list The Camino as one as well. But in the spirit of this retrospective I need to further express what pushed me so deep into this pit of depression.
Most importantly I'm not here to blame my ex wife for being the reasoning for my suicidal issues. Heavens no! I had a hidden struggle for many years. What exasperated my sadness was not my wife leaving me but the context in which she left me. For I was always afraid that if I told her these things she would leave me. So while in therapy I revealed these dark secrets and my fears that if she discovered my inner sadness that she'd leave me. Well she left and I felt my fears had become reality. So while I was looking for a freedom from my pain it had only worsen when my closest friend abandoned me.
So I spiraled and as I mentioned above I actively planned how to end my life. I won't go into any further details as I believe I shared a great deal already. But this is where my road was starting from which I can't express how blessed I feel to be alive today. Sure there will always be sorrow and hardship; but I've grown to appreciate that my suffering doesn't isolate me from others but actually connects me to others.
So this is apart of how I've grown in faith. I've also seen doors break open as the world seems so much smaller. I've become a world traveler! Anywhere and anything is possible now! I've been given this wonderful gift. I can now dream bigger and be more fulfilled like I never believed. It also means I have a new dilemma of where will I call home? Well to those closest to me I'll be sharing this in more details but I've come to a crossroad so I'm using what Christians refer to as "setting a fleece".
What does that mean? Well there was once a prophet in the Bible that wanted to know if God really desired him to do a particular path. So he asked God saying tonight I'll lay down a fleece on the ground and if your hand is in this decision when I awake the ground will be wet with dew and the fleece will be dry. So low and behold he wakes up and the ground is wet while the fleece is bone dry. However this wasn't enough of a confirmation for the prophet so he asked God to this next time when he wakes up for the ground to be dry and the fleece to be wet. So the next morning the ground was dry and this time the fleece was soaking wet. So much so that when the prophet ringed the fleece it filled a cup with water. If you're not a person of faith you might find this silly but for me I've placed a certain set of fleeces out for when I return. If they happen as I perceive it I'll call one particular place a home over the other. I've resolved to let my faith lead me and guide me and not anxiousness or fears. This might puzzle or frustrate some but this is my life to live and I need to just do these things this way. I don't ask for others to understand it just if you're curious this is what and why I've decided to do. You can respect it or you can ignore it it's my decision and I'm at peace with it. The next "result" is that of "Forgiveness".
Three people the experience of The Camino has given me the power to forgive. Three people I could also use forgiveness from. Yet only one is both living and has the potential for an active relationship with. Of the three: my father, my mother and my ex-wife only my father is both alive and currently interested in forging a relationship. But apart of this forgiveness both giving and receiving it takes time and takes authenticity. I've resolved to forgive my father. Not to hash up the past or rewrite history. What's been said has been said and what has been done has been done. In order for me to forgive him we need a future not a past. There will be challenges and there will be issues that will most likely need to be addressed but as I see it I just want a blank slate. If we can start that way then there's hope. If not that's ok too. I've decided to the best of my ability I won't be uncorking past hurts about him on my blog as a sign of solidarity and resolve. That's between him and me and I've let it go. I love my father and I want a relationship with him. We've both wronged each other and got ahead of the feelings of one another. He's not me and I'm not him. We'll just have to accept each other for who we are, agree to be respectful first and take it a moment at a time.
The second person the Camino has empowered me to forgive is my mother. This has been the most difficult and the most unexpected. I've come to a peace with my mother. She was unfortunately mentally ill and I lacked much in how to make sense of it. I was hurt and regardless of all that took place she's gone and there's nothing I can do about it. My mother is in heaven and I've made peace with her passing and I'm ready to let go and forgive her. I'll always love my mother and even with her gone I know the Lord has given me many mother's in my life, and will continue through mother's show me the kindness and nurturing I still crave.
Lastly the person I've been needing to forgive the greatest, and the one that still owns my heart; my ex-wife Katie. There's a large apart of me that wants to write her a love letter or do a big romantic gesture aimed to win her back. But I'm at a complete loss of what to say or do that I haven't already said or tried to make her love me again. I wish I could see her again. I miss her so very much. I wish I could hold her again. To talk to her again. To kiss her again. To smell her hair and touch her skin. I miss her so madly deeply I miss her. I wish I could understand why she's gone but this is my reality.
Not to be rude but as bluntly as I can express: If you haven't had your heart truly and profoundly broken you can't possibly scratch the surface of what I'm feeling or going through. Unfortunately because there is so many people that have been hurt I'm not alone. I still love Katie. And yes I forgive her. I know that I need her to forgive me as well for many things too and I hope one day she will do so. I love you Katie and I forgive you. And in solidarity for that I've decided to the best of my abilities to refrain from uncorking any further details that might seem to disparage her on my blog. She's not a villain and if you respect me please don't trouble her or pick a side. I love her and I pray for her all the comforts and happiness that God's grace can pour on her.
Furthermore I need to express another revelation. You can't replace people. You just can't. While I've heard advice, thoughts and opinions about what it means to move on the truth is layered. Layered how I feel. Layered how I think. And finally layered what I need. When someone catches my eye that is a reminder there is no shortage of beauty in the world. When my heart suddenly aches that is a reminder there's no shortage of pain either. But aside from what I think and what I feel there will never be a replacement for my love of Katie. And even as things are today I would take her back in a heartbeat. I've forgiven her and am continuing to forgive her. If I could understand why she pulled away I feel it would help me better in my forgiveness but I'm currently not allowed to know why. My heart breaks whenever I think of her. I worry about her. Is she safe? Is she being taken care of? Is she eating or being comforted while she's in pain? Whose there to love on her? Whose there? Has she attempted to replace me?
All of these swirling thoughts and feelings will remain for quite sometime. This is also why I've decided to remain single. I'm not interested in a fling, that's not me and I'm not interested in tethering myself to another person while I'm still hurting. I've resolved to remain a chaste man. Through the grace I discovered on The Camino I'm not afraid of being alone. So I say this in all love and respect I'm not going to hookup, make out, score with or cuddle up to another girl. I'm not. I might be single for quite sometime but I'm not troubled by that. God has given me a very clear message that I'll know when my heart is ready again and at the present it's just not ready. So please respect my decision.
Furthermore I'm not going to listen to any advice about me needing to have some string of sexual partners! No thanks. While Katie was the only woman I've ever known that doesn't bother me. To me that makes what I had more precious. There's more to life than sex and if this confounds you understand this is my personal convictions. This also means if I'm befriending someone of the opposite sex I'm strictly looking for friendship, truly and in a platonic way. I enjoy female friendships quite a bit as women are typically more comfortable talking about their feelings like I am. This isn't always the case with women but I'm looking for meaningful relationships plain and simple. This is my time to heal and I just need to clear the air for my own peace of mind.
And finally the powerful clarity The Camino has given me is "Focus".
Be that adding or removing creative projects or ventures I'm no longer interested in spinning my wheels on anything thing that bares no fruit in my life or fire within. There are many decisions ahead of me and I'm cutting burdens and weights on all sides. Much of this will reflect in the work that I do and in my creative partnerships. I'm taking less on to do more. I'm going to prioritize my education, my writing, my family and my dreams. Specifically I'm going to, Lord willing, publish a series of children's books.
The Camino has been this well of inspiration and I need drink from it while the water is flowing. This also means my relaunch of my podcast might be short lived we'll see. I'm going to take my spirit as the lead and quit things early if they begin to feel a lack of strength to do it. Which might result in me even setting down some vocational opportunities, I can't yet say all of this as I mentioned there's many fleeces I've set out. Sure you might be thinking I thought he said he had focus? I do! My focus is to look to my spiritual rudder and that compass will guide me. I'm going to say "no" more often and "yes" only when I mean it with my whole being.
So there it is. My soul laid bare. I've grown in my faith, my forgiveness and my focus. Reality will take its place soon as I enter back into my life in the United States. But the effects and the decisions I have to make will feel so much lighter. Thank you for following my journey.