End of week 7, almost there…

12 days to go…I feel like I should be nervous but I’m not…yet…So busy setting up the leaving events in London and the endless practicalities involved in walking for 18 months, and constant training, I barely get a moment to register my feelings on what I’m about to do.

Still, it’s been an incredible week with as much exciting progress as I could have hoped for, with some unexpectedly profound experiences thrown in. I can’t say I am surprised by the lack of support from many of the companies I’ve approached but of course it’s frustrating. If I was raising money to stop cancer, I wonder would the project be in a better financial state by now? We all know someone affect by cancer of course, so it’s clear to see why so many are moved to support it without much convincing. What amazes me is that we all know a crowd of people affected by child sexual abuse. If you dont think you do then please understand, 1 in 4 of the women and girls in your life are survivors. 1 in 6 of the men or boys you know are too. Have none of them ever told you that? No? Why would that be, do you think?
 
So why are companies so shy about coming on board to support an event aimed at reaching out to 100,000,000 survivors in 31 home nations, when we know that by Stopping the Silence we make it better and by doing this we’ll eventually find a solution? Because, no one wants to be the ‘positive face of child sexual abuse’. In a sense there can’t be one, the only faces of abuse are the celebrity offenders. Who would choose to be associated with them…?
 
The media has done a lot recently to remind us how evil this crime is and also how prevalent it is but at the same time has created such a hysteria around involvement in the subject that people are scared to be seen in a newspaper next to the words ‘child sexual abuse’ even when the rest of the sentence is ‘awareness to help prevent and heal…’
Consequently, with the exception of a few truehearted small-Scottish-companies, such as Fleet Alliance who gave the Road to Change £1500 worth of office space and even £1000 cash to kickstart the ‘Just giving’ page, and 21st Century Kilts, who’s celebrity designer Howie Nicolsby has deigned and donated £1000s worth of kilts, the major support has come from my friends and family, and some new friends I’ve made on facebook since beginning the press campaign. Truly, I am deeply grateful to everyone who donated, I appreciate every penny and I hope you realise that you are now all part of the Road to Change. Your contribution lives beyond the £20 you put in, it is in the way you know feel about this subject, and how you will respond in a conversations about it in future. Clearly, you are someone who cares. You are someone who is comfortable publicly supporting a campaign with those scary words, ‘Child sexual abuse’. You realise the words themselves are nothing to fear, even talking about it is okay. Your ability to be open to discussing child sexual abuse will in its own way change the world around you. Just imagine, If we all changed our own world, we’d change the world. Children who might be suffering abuse right now that you become aware of will be saved because you will act when others who are still scared to ‘get involved’ will ignore it. Survivors who may have spent years feeling shameful will find a little healing just by hearing you calmly mention child sexual abuse, as for so long no one did. This is the real change. The government cant stop it alone, policies and laws are important but to reduce and eventually remove child sexual abuse from our society, we require a major shift in our awareness and intent to act on what has in the past been so universally ignored. Never underestimate the profound world change you are now part of, even when it doesn’t feel that epic. The world needs more people like you.
 
Anyhoo…the real thing I wanted to share this week was not the bleek state of my rained-off fund-raising attempts but a significant incident in my own journey towards healing. Avid readers may remember, I spent a week in York last month as the Meditation Trust (again, a small yet generous charity themselves) offered me a free weekend course to learn Transcendental Meditation (TM). I was seeking this skill not for any spiritual reasons but as a method ,recognised by doctors, of resting my body and mind into a state twice as deep as can be achieved in deep sleep, which I image will be hugely beneficial during this uniquely demanding treck. Apparently now highly recommended to those recovering from a traffic accident, TM gives our being the opportunity it needs to naturally heal itself from physical and psychological trauma. The benefits to survivors of child sexual abuse are remarkable and is highly advocated among ex-service personelle suffering PTSD.    
 
While alone in York, I was also finishing a week long ‘Juicefest’, having consumed nothing but liquidized fresh fruit and veg for seven days, I figured the best way to top off all this mind and body detoxing would be a massage. After some last minute calling around, I was fortunate enough to meet Kerrie Marie Scot in her wee healing centre, Chakra, on the actual Shambles. During the session I casually mentioned having a weak knee, which of course could become an issue on this relentless walk. Kerrie said that knees can be where we subconsciously hold onto stress, and suggested I get some Reiki. Fair enough, I thought…
 
I’ve keep an open mind with regards all things spiritual. I understand religion as public displays of faith which mean life or death for so many people but spirituality seems to be the more quiet personal relationship with one’s own beliefs. Even beginning to write about it now I can feel some of you sitting back and wondering where I’m going with this…Don’t worry.  Keep what you believe, I’m not challenging anything, but here’s what happened this week:
 
In the highly corporate environment of the Fleet Alliance office, I wasn’t expecting to find a holistic healer, yet with Kerrie’s suggestion lingering at the back of my mind, my ears pricked up during a conversation about one of the ladies in the office being an excellent yoga teacher…two internal emails later…I was offered a free Reiki session by Hayley McGhie who is currently establishing Core Connections. Arriving at her tranquil studio, I mentioned to her about the knee and Kerrie’s idea that I might be holding onto something which perhaps a spiritual approach could better remedy. To my surprise, Hayley actually suggested NLP. 
 
Now, I always thought NLP was part of the whole mental-attitude money-making systems promoted constantly since the world all learned ‘The Secret’ six years ago, but in fact NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is simply another technique developed to help us examine our own minds, and what’s going on in them. Entirely open to the experience, I sat relaxed, eyes-closed, as Hayley guided me through a visualisation, which would take me back to the incident when I injured my knee. 
 
Fully expecting to see myself lying in pain from the torn ligament way back when it happened, I was baffled when I saw nothing of the sort. In high-school, I missed English most Wednesday mornings as I had to be at the clinic to receive radio-therapy on that knee to help it heal BUT there was in fact no actual accident when it became damaged. I told my mum and the physiotherapist that I had fallen and twisted it because I didn’t think they’d believe me if I said it just started hurting that badly for no reason. I could barely sleep some nights with the strange ache inside that knee. Eventually, I learned to live with it, and for many years even forgot about it.
 
In 2008, I walked the West Highland Way, 96 miles from Glasgow to Fort William, to raise money to produce the play, To kill a Kelpie, that I’d written about what my uncle did to me. It was then the pain in my knee came back…like that smiling clown in Steven King’s ‘IT’…In 2011, preparing for the Road to Change, I walked from Barcelona to Perpignan to raise £3K and learn about EU walking. The knee gave out then too, I almost expected it too but with no original injury to the joint, why was it so weak? The answer lies in what I saw during the NLP, when Hayley lead me back in my mind to, as she put it, the moment this problem appeared.
I saw myself, aged 13, sitting alone on the steps of the Westwood Community Centre, facing the Westwood Square. It was just before 7pm, on Sunday the 24th of March 1996. The sun was beginning to fade and I was chewing Wrigglies Juicyfruit from the yellow and red packet, while staring at the grass. Sitting so quietly and still there was no danger of injuring my knee  here, that anyone could imagine…Still visibly shaken from the confrontation only hours before, when I had finally found the courage to stop my uncle from touching me. As startled as I was, he’d dropped me home at my parents house and I had wandered down here to the shops. If I stayed in the house, my brothers might ask me whats up. I figured I better go away and calm down. The change still in my pocket that I had stolen from him when I tried to run out his flat, when my plan seemed to be that I’d get a bus home (From Glasgow to East Kilbride, at 13) I had never bought Wrigglies Juicyfruit before, or have since. My head was just blown apart when I walked into Spar to get rid of his money from my pocket. So, as Hayley’s voice floated off into the distance, I saw myself on those steps and I remembered what I was thinking in that moment, like I could hear my/his thoughts, I suddenly recalled the weighty promise I was making to myself…
I have no idea how I knew this at that time, but I had a feeling that what Terry had done to me might ‘mess me up’ in future. Here on the steps that day, was the moment when I promised myself I would never let it effect me…because then he’d have won, again. I couldn’t have known just how hard that was going to be to achieve, and that by putting so much pressure on myself to stay strong and well I had taken on more than any kid should ever have to carry.  I have walked with the intense weight of this invisible pressure ever since that moment. If you put a tone weight on your shoulders, it’s your knees that feel the strain. My knee couldn’t take it…
This was a huge lightbulb moment. I felt quite emotional, luckily I was only sitting quietly in a darkened studio recalling these visions. Hayley invited me to say what I felt the younger-me needed to know, and so, like Scrooge witnessing shadows of the things that have been, I sat beside my-young-self and put my arm around me. I told my-young-self that its okay not to be okay, that it wasn’t my fault what Terry chose to do to me, so if I ever feel less than 100% at any point, I can fall apart and it doesn’t mean that I’ve failed…or that he’s won…As I said this to my-younger-self I knew the phantom pain in my knee was now gone forever….Spooky huh…
 
There’s more to this story but again, I’ve really rambled on this week so…to be continued…what happened next was really illuminating but I’ll save that for next week…     
 
Before I shoosh, I need to say a massive thanks to the National Theatre who are hosting the leaving event on the morning of the 31st. Huge thanks also to Alex McGrotty, a piper, offering his services to lead us off on the first mile along the south bank, and I must say a huge thanks to all of you who have donated cash, your time looking for a motorhome or even a spare satnav (Gail Anderson) and of course thank you to Kerrie and Hayley for the beautiful healing. Nearly the final furlong…before the journey really begins…
 
Thank you for reading, catch ye next week, for my last blog before the Road to Change begins 😮

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Rainy fun day in Cumbermnald…Least me made £10…Shame it cost £13 to get there…

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