“I hope you’ll find your freedom for eternity” – Robbie Williams.
I used to think Robbie Williams had a point, now it seems, we must question the word freedom and fight it with control. I reflect on my life so many times every day and how it all went wrong and nasty for me on what was once a nice, happy boy’s journey. Today I posted on my Facebook Page (which to be honest is more or less defunct these days, 1,000 fans less than it used to have, as nobody reads it any more after my honest exposures in 2016). Honesty really hurts some people – I don’t need the nasties on my sites. But today, I posted about how control wins and freedom loses. I’m pretty sure 5 years ago I promoted freedom as if it was the best thing in life, ever. I was so wrong.
This is what I wrote today, next to a photo (above) from Masada in Israel (taken in 2013):
“Life goes fast. 5 years ago I was backpacking the Middle East, it was non stop living for sure.#dontstopliving Life was genuinely good and I was happy. The freedom ruins us, it ruined me. Control and limits are better in life, full stop. #setlimits #destroyfreedom A year after this photo, I made the mistake of going to Romania, never to be the same happy backpacker again. I just give you warnings and honesty of my story and what many others I met also had. Fake travel bloggers claim it’s all amazing. It’s not. It’s their lie. #honestywins By all means travel but please set limits, don’t enjoy the fakeness of “freedom”. Nothing is free. #fakefreedom My freedom came with boredom, suicide, meeting dishonest people and stalkers. Time for control.#control #wacaday #ulsterczyk“
Five years ago this week was amazing, I was backpacking hardcore in the Middle East, through Israel, Palestine and Jordan. After that I had lined up the Caucauses and getting visas for Turkey, Iran and Iraq. We managed it, we saw all of those countries, as well as Qatar (second time) and UAE (also a second time) and Nagorno Karabakh. I was with my long term girlfriend, former wife to be Panny (I’m not French so never used the word ‘fiancee’ or whatever it is) and we were doing everything together. I think it was the best 3-4 months of my life. The problem was that long term travel (and professional blogging) brought me – freedom.
“Now here you go again, you say, you want your freedom. Well who am I to keep you down” – Fleetwood Mac.
Freedom? I despise it. Every second of ‘freedom’. We don’t want freedom, we don’t need freedom. It breeds boredom, options, too many options, time to spare, suicide, tiredom, lacklusterity, it breathes the life out of a once pumping heart. Freedom ruined me. I was free to go anywhere and now I realise the faults of that. I had no control. On the Tuesday we could wake up and think about going to a new city that night, or a new country the next day, or get a new visa the next week. We had freedom and no plans. It was out of control.
“Your joys are counterfeit” – Manic Street Preachers.
The start of my decline in life, my suicide bid and deep depression began on the 15th November 2014. Yes, less than 4 years ago. Since then, I really don’t know what happened to me, neither me nor anyone else can explain mental illness or justify the actions of others towards me. Here is a photo of the two fateful rooms which ruined my life.
And I didn’t know it then. It was a simple fact that two fellow tourists spoke to me in these two rooms, entering my life for an unknown reason and starting me on a spiral of pure depression, within the freedom I had. I don’t know what day the depression actually began though. I don’t know if it was as soon as I met this nasty twosome, or if it was gradual. I remember meeting Paddy Campbell in Newcastle in December 2014 and feeling still good, also in March 2015 when I celebrated visiting 100 countries, it seems like I was happy.
It went wrong and I turned to all sorts of things, (illegal drugs excepted but) alcohol, meditation, psychologists, psychiatrists and prescription drugs included. I spent almost 5 months in Bishkek looking for answers (in the aftermath of my separation from Panny), I did nude yoga, I tried Franch dating when in Paris for Euro 2016, I eventually decided to give up backpacking, in a very unexpected city – Poland’s Gdańsk. Again, nobody knows why it was Gdańsk and not Bishkek, or Termiz, or Grodig or Gdynia. But God graced me in Poland after my pilgrimages To Pelplin and Częstochowa and God saw me through the bad times, as best he could.
“My spirit has been purified” – Noel Gallagher.
Since that day that I settled, in Poland, I gave a backstage pass to Don’t Stop Living, hoping it would meander into nothing, disappear into its own loneliness of lies and despair, and I’d find a smile again. The smile, truly never returned. Not even for real at the football matches you might have seen me at, or the time I backpacked in Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan or Togo.
“Everybody cries, and everybody hurts. Sometimes” – Michael Stipe.
I don’t know how to find a smile any more. I dream every day that one day, the smile will return.
“Take me in your arms again, leave me in my dreams again” – Tim Wheeler.
The freedom ruined me, let’s take control again.