Wow I can’t believe it’s 2018 already. This year is going to be one of the most life changing I have had in my 37 years on planet Earth and that’s saying something with what I have managed to pack in and experience in my life so far, both positive and negative!
2018 also marks just over 10 years since my wife and I cut short our round the World backpacking trip (more here) and having stayed in one place for the longest we have ever done as a couple (just over 5 years!) we are going to be withdrawing our 3 children from their brilliant school, packing everything we haven’t thrown away into our attic before renting out our wonderful family home and heading off in Lightning our motorhome to explore Europe for 12 months or so 🙂
We will be World Schooling the kids on the road in our motorhome which will also be our home so feel free to pick whichever term from World / Road / Home Schooling makes the most sense to you (if any do!) and read this earlier post for more on our reasons for this side of things if you haven’t yet.
However, as is customary with such New Year posts, I think it’s worth looking back at 2017 before moving forward, especially as 2017 was probably one of my toughest years, even by my crazy standards. Hopefully via my rather untypical, frank and honest reflections below these might help others in some small way during 2018 and beyond…
I personally reached the lowest point I have ever reached during 2017, well at least since I was a kid when I had to deal with all manner of things no child ever should and these deeply buried bad experiences from my turbulent childhood finally overwhelmed me.
If this wasn’t enough, this was also combined with both my wife and I having lost our way somewhat which created the perfect shitstorm where I actually took the incredibly difficult decision to move out of the family home for several months to try piece myself back together whilst pressing pause on life. I did everything I could to minimise the impact of this on my wife and kids and even sought professional help to talk through the emotions I had suppressed for so long but no amount of explanation can ever describe how hard this period was for us all, especially my wife 🙁
My mental breakthrough as we like to call it in our now happier household rather than the more negative, common mental breakdown tag, gave us both the time and space to reflect on what we wanted after 12 years of marriage and reconnect to ourselves as individuals in order to try plan for many more years as a family of 5 in whatever form that was going to take.
During this time, when I wasn’t even living in the family home fate, chance, synchronicity or just plain randomness depending on your own personal beliefs led me to revisit a web page for a family who we had heard about many years ago who were still travelling with the 4 children they had during their 17 years on the road after setting off from Argentina in their 90 year old car. Not only had I found my way to their web site I had also liked their Facebook page and realised they were currently in the UK, in London and either heading North towards Scotland or Ireland so I messaged them and invited them to stay with ‘us’. After exchanging several messages with them they had decided they were heading to Scotland and so would be passing. I told my wife what I had arranged who quite rightfully thought I was CRAZY for inviting them to stay with us when we weren’t even living together!
A few days later when Family Zapp turned up at our house in their car with wooden wheels, I fully expected to get them to stay in my rented flat so they could have some peace and quiet and I could hopefully stay on the sofa in the family home but without knowing our current circumstances they insisted we would find a way to get the 6 of them to join our family of 5 in our modest 3 bedroom house for a couple of days so the kids could play and we could all eat drink and chat. Thankfully, my amazing wife went with this absurd plan, we stayed up late chatting to the Zapps, watched their videos with them (English subtitles available) whilst our kids played with theirs and the best way I can describe the effect of their warmness, kindness and attitude for life at that pivotal moment in our own lives was that it was like having some sort of spiritual, travelling Buddha shine a spotlight on everything we weren’t happy with whilst not living true to OUR own core beliefs and values.
You can read more about the amazing Zapps and their visit to our home here however it is no exaggeration that they ‘Zapped’ a new sense of meaning and purpose into us both during their time with us and gave us the confidence to follow our gut instincts and start thinking about how we can live closer to our true beliefs or in short they gave us the belief it was possible to live with more integrity.
After the Zapps left us, thankfully it wasn’t long before my wife and I worked through the rest of the issues we were dealing with. After a ceremonial burning of various things we had written on scraps of paper that had been pissing us both off for years we made the decision to reshape OUR lives and I moved back into the family home. Since then we haven’t looked back and have slowly worked on getting the bits of the jigsaw puzzle of life in place to enable us to head off in April 2018 in Lightning as a stronger family unit with a mixture of excitement and nervousness but confident this is the right thing for US all.
Thank you if you have made it all the way through the above to this point in what is another looooong post of mine. I would also like to thank those that were true friends to me during 2017 rather than simply either ignoring or worse pretending you didn’t know what was going on in my life which includes a lot of male friends of mine.
A true friend, in my opinion, doesn’t have to have known you a long time or know your full life story but be a good listener, genuine, non judgemental and not afraid to speak their mind or challenge you on any of your beliefs or actions. If you have anyone in your life with these qualities then make sure you look out for them and be there for them when and if they need you. Together, you will hopefully help each other admit your shortcomings and help each other grow into better people when either of you are ready to do so, which I am thankfully lucky to say I have done myself in 2017 whether that has been via such friends in person or via people I know via social media and forums etc.
Most men are frankly crap at dealing with emotions which is probably a large reason why male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK (more here) but if I can pass on one lesson for other dads / men from my rough ride in 2017 it would be to TALK to other people about your demons as once you open up you will be amazed at how many others either have similar or have made it through the other side.
You are NOT the first person to have felt such feelings OR TO HAVE been so low
Even if you aren’t low now, I would urge everyone to read the following that are linked from every page of my site to get some context to your current feelings and emotions:
January, when I’m writing this is an especially difficult time for a lot of people returning to work after the festive period here in the West but if anyone ever needs a sympathetic ear then my close friends and family have my personal contact details. Seriously, even if I don’t know you personally please feel free to use the contact form above to drop me a message and I will do my best to listen and point you in the right direction to take your next step forward whatever that may be.
DISCLAIMER: I’m no expert or professionally qualified in anything but I do think I’m a pretty good listener and with my vast life experiences, both wanted and unwanted I hope I can help you on your path in some small way.