From a young age I was taught enforced beliefs and habits―patterns in my beliefs that said the world was only one certain way. If it wasn’t exactly that way, by those rules, it was wrong and people were wrong. At about 31 I started to realise my whole life was a result of the limitations of these rules that I thought I had to obey to be ok, loved and accepted by other people or by the only god I knew―which I can now label as fear―and at its best advocate for enforcement shame.
I was consumed by shame and fear, I never dared question if these beliefs were acceptable by or for me, I was far too scared that in hearing my doubt if a God existed, they would disown me and I would be on a track directly pointed to the hell that fear created and the biggest fear of all was to question the rules of the authority of fear itself (especially in the sect/cult I was raised in). It was a dark place in the jail of the mind I lived in.
Simple statements constantly reinforced to me like – ‘curiosity killed the cat’ – ‘that’s just the hand you are dealt’ – ‘that’s just the way it is’ – ‘such is life’ – ‘it’s just our cross to bear’ ALL kept me trapped in a mind that was endlessly drowning in my conviction that I could never be good enough, I should accept my lot in life and deal with it. If I couldn’t do that I was weak, a failure, not acceptable, unlovable and an outcast.
The only thing I knew that felt like escape was competitive sports (which for me was limited to school). Laughter, and that was not common to our family, or hurting myself. As I remember, everything pointed towards being right and striving to portray myself as a perfect human, unaware then that none of those exist.
Although I couldn’t language it this way back then, even as a young child I could see my father striving to be right, trying to assist others the best way he knew how, all the while hurting them, living out of the judgement from which he could never free himself of and refusing to question if there was another way. The way he knew for himself held more comfort than challenging the pain that made him the judge.
After being born in Australia into a family deeply committed to an unhealthy view of religion―a cult―where they were convinced they had all the answers and knew ‘the only’ way to God.
At 9 years old my dad decided that we had to make a move to England (my parents’ homeland) where he would become the head of our small church there, his dream I’m sure. There was a reasonable amount of power in being a leader that was appealing to all the men I had watched growing up. The problem that never seemed right to me was that the beliefs gripped people by fear and my question―How was a loving God or Father able to lead what was meant to be loving people by fear. Fearful people created more fearful people. Only a loving God and loving Father could create or inspire loving people. I have learned that where we cannot achieve love as humans, we settle for connection however that is felt. At its worst the connection of shameful people is enough for comfort to be felt although the result is of a growth of more shame and greater fear.
I lived forever striving for the acceptance of my dad and God because the rules for being loved by either of them were the same and in our house fear and manipulation through shame (a sort of Spiritual abuse) ensured I didn’t cross any lines, that I wouldn’t turn away from the teaching and back then meant I would have the best chance to see heaven. My challenge to this was while there was the belief that no one could ensure they were ever good enough to be accepted by this god of fear, apparently there was a ‘lively hope’ that is where my joy should have come from).
Needless to say―I struggled with this ‘truth’ I had come to know. Though we experienced physical beating in our family, it didn’t haunt me in the way the manipulation and discipline using guilt and fear did. This mind full of shame created my whipping post and it was relentless to me in my actions, hurt and pain. Even when I was totally alone I was beating myself up so why did I need him to continually load it on more. His fears that I might just do something ‘wrong’, make a mistake or hurt myself and in turn NEVER be forgiven.
At 12 I began to hurt myself, deliberately, punishing myself for my thoughts and feeling more ashamed towards the Self that was the real me. It was like I had layers and levels of this process and doubting the only thing I knew led me deeper into my pain, addictions and punishments.
I continued to follow them.
By 14 I was having suicidal thoughts regularly but suicide was an unforgivable sin and so there was no way out of the hell I had created my life to be.
It was like an endless vacuum of my energy, my effort and my life, trying to succeed at everything expected of me to be more perfect and not finding any success, understandably looking back, it was an impossible task. I lived life on the tips of my toes trying not to fall from the tightrope I’d been given to walk my life on and when I did avoiding the pain of all the broken glass of the childhood dreams I was treading on.
At 17 I decided I had to find an escape, run, or die.
With only my perception of what was expected for me to be accepted and loved, I had ruled myself into every worst fear we have as humans―to be loved, belong or good enough I must be ‘perfect’. Even though I thought I could make it appear that way with all the masks I wore so well inside I felt dirty as a builder’s doormat.
I thought my only way out was going to hell through suicide but the experience of the life I was living felt worse than the burning lake of fire I’d heard of growing up. I started to question if there was any reason at all to live. My thought cycle for a while became that if there was any possible God above and if he did know me as personally as I was told, he’d have to understand me wanting to die to escape this unceasing pain and anguish. I’d cry myself to sleep at night and hurt myself and could never get past the mental obsessive cycle of thoughts that made up the darkness and hell I found myself in. Darkness ruled my life.
This is my understanding now of depression and it was only thoughts and perceptions, and in fact ALL A LIE.
I had interpreted all my experiences to bring me around to this place I believed through fear I had no escape from. That is hell. I now like the saying “If you are walking through hell, keep going and don’t stop walking”―you do come out to the other side or there is a different point of view to live the challenge from.
In those middle teen years I tried to fill my life with music to escape the thoughts and though everything I listened to, was consistently and closely monitored, different and lighter melodies and patterns would bring a slight relief from darkness of the thoughts while listening but this freedom was short lived. With the music off, I would almost immediately return to the obsession I had grown from “I can never be good enough”.
I was done with this place that never felt like home. Working from around age twelve or thirteen I did a paper round, using my money like an entrepreneur to buy sweets in bulk and selling them at school for extra. I never believed I could or would succeed and so school was a waste of time because I didn’t try, only doing just enough to stay under the radar. I became a cleaner and hospital ward assistant at around 16 so I had learned I was resourceful and could make some money. At the completion of year 12 high school in England I got a supermarket job and made the decision that as soon as I could I’d RUN! I got together enough for a plane ticket, $1000 and I left.
The problem was after leaving home at 19, I could still never escape the implantation of the thoughts forever tirelessly playing in and on my mind, I was still drawn to the comfort of knowing the beliefs in the same cult, with the same type of people I grew up with. Scared people who used guilt, manipulation and shame to enforce a life where I could not leave without being forever condemned. I had initially thought this escape from our family house was my answer, I’d hoped to find someone accepting of me. I’d hoped I’d find some sort of connection and love.
Getting married at 20, striving to know love, I wanted to feel but I didn’t know how. I didn’t understand why my wife was not able to help me overcome what I didn’t know how to feel. As she also was raised the same way I was she could only know a similar thought process to me. I have learned how unacceptable it was of me to place this expectation on my beautiful 18 year old bride when I was the only who could change it.
When I was 22, in his first hour on earth our first son Jack died from complications, his body had a few issues he could have overcome but suddenly following birth he faced even more complications unforeseen by the doctors.
When this happened the darkness of my anger and depression became too much to bear. I believed it was my fault, that I was being punished (and so my wife Mel had to suffer) for my multitude of sins so light in scale and yet so heavy on my mind.
Our beautiful Jack was to be a dream for us both, a point of love and connection, yet it became a nightmare. As I bathed his tiny, barely 6 pound body dead in my hands, the disbelief and intensity of the pain was too much.
We travelled for a break to Queensland in an effort to escape the harsh reality of our loss and on the 23rd floor balcony of our hotel I had my first suicidal, committed moment.
‘If you just lift your feet it’ll all be over’ was the thought as I leant over the balcony feeling so tempted by the pavement below to be my peace maker. The thought carried a lightness of false freedom and over the next five days I’d struggle to avoid it. I no longer had fear of hell because living with the pain I was experiencing inside was a fate worse than that and in those moments, I felt like I could never gain a good life anyway. The only thing I held to was that I wanted to help and save my wife from this pain, another thing impossible for me to do and another thing I decided in time I was a failure at.
In denial of anything good being possible in life over the next four years I would strive and strive to prove myself worthy, a reason to go on, while yearly or more, returning to one balcony or another with the same beckoning call of peace through the death I longed for. Despite the miracle of a beautiful daughter, I felt fear of connection, what if she was taken from me? So I tried not to let her too close to my heart. There was no comfort for the emptiness inside.
It got worse over time, the darkness so intense and the light so dim I’d drive recklessly, offer my life to the risks with tear filled eyes and pedal to the metal occasionally heading directly for the giant gum trees in my car and finally pulling out with only a moment to spare. Cursing myself for being too weak to do it and berating myself for being so weak to consider it―there was no end.
There was a show in that time on TV that had the theme song from the chorus of ‘Who Are You?’ by The Who. It played on my mind because I didn’t know and I wanted to know who I am. If I didn’t know who I was maybe it wasn’t who I was supposed to be.
It would take several more years and a man I regarded highly to complete the determination that would cause me to do ANYTHING to see this through, to defy and challenge every thought. His words still so vivid in my mind even today, he said, “If you’re not bringing up your children EXACTLY the way you were raised, you’re doing it wrong!”
Another light bulb moment―I didn’t want my children to suffer like I was. I didn’t want them to live in fear of life itself!! I didn’t want to do life even for one more day this way. Little did I know that it would require a lot more breakdown before I could truly have my breakthrough!!
Finally at about 31 years old on a 32nd floor balcony with these thoughts for the last time, at the moment I was lifting my lightly held feet, I had an epiphany, I finally heard the quiet voice in my head that I had not noticed before and it said―‘I just want to live!’
Before I go on and you judge, please let me clarify to you, research shows that the average healthy human has 15 personalities, unhealthy humans can have up to 54 personalities.
I’m not crazy and wasn’t even in this moment. I was a very long way from the quiet voice that really tells me the truth of who I am. You have one of these too―it speaks goodness, calm, love and kindness and never the opposite.
This voice came from somewhere significantly different. Too loud to deny and with this sudden switch in my brain and two living children, I could finally see I had reason for some gratitude for my life, I really heard what it said. Almost like it was a bigger statement than the words themselves.
Following this I made a little creative material success and as I changed many things and challenged the lies of my ego (the fearful voice in our minds that only wants to keep us comfortable and safe) time and time again. I grew in confidence because I found the fears and thoughts untrue and it gave me enough reason to continually question how many of my thoughts were untrue.
I was seeing benefits but it hurt. Every step. A continuous realisation of how much I had missed out on. How much I’d hurt others and how much I’d hurt my Self (capitol S for True Self and not my ego, fearful self).
For the next five years I would throw challenge after challenge in my own way, enduring whatever hurt was required to find something that appeared to even remotely resemble peace (bearing in mind that until that point in my life the distraction of a needle to the eyeball was a welcomed distraction over what I endured through my thoughts alone).
I wanted constant freedom, not from responsibility, I wanted freedom from the constant thought. This is a huge challenge for someone carrying pain from whatever form of trauma, peace is nearly impossible because you’ve only ever known to hear your ego and it is loud!
I would find peace no matter what it took!!
I didn’t realise that in the moment I surrendered to my biggest fear of death, I was no longer sincerely afraid of anything much and suddenly there was something different at each moment, it was knowledge, the power of choice and decision.
My last balcony moment was enough to acknowledge that everything I believed growing up was a lie, that maybe, just maybe the world was good. That there just might be even a 1% possibility I had been hoodwinked, or even conned into losing many years of my life to the potential of a fear and nothing more than thoughts and perception.
The first enlightened moment on the balcony gave me opportunity to see many more. I sought the value of challenging everything I had ever known. I called BS on every belief, the way I looked at things and especially when I felt my energy dropping I removed myself from people and started to look inside.
Not only did I look inside I had begun to look ‘from’ inside.
I’d had these moments in my life I started to recognise more and more.
My awareness had been heightened through all the pain. I was recognising―Ben you’re not the pain, you see the pain, the hurt, the experiences and that’s exactly what you are, the see-er of it all and now in every experience in life when I choose it, I become the see-er of it.
Eckhart Tolle explains best for me in one of his books, how our deepest consciousness is the seat of our soul. From the place deepest in our mind we can find peace and are loved, it is an untouchable place where the true Self/Soul resides, I would even say this place is the closest to God we could ever be.
From here, the seat of the soul we can look out at the world and see the stories of our ego mind unfold. We can see we are not the stories, we are not bound by anything the ego mind throws up with noise or pain.
This perspective enabled me to constantly allow the challenges, and I began to embrace everything I would have run from before. I wanted to overcome the darkness where all the fear had held me and become new each day.
The biggest difference I believe now was that before, I was always running from something I didn’t want and now suddenly I had shifted to running towards anything I feared I couldn’t have, what I did want, not by striving for it only simply turning around, running forwards and not backwards, living present to moments instead of in past stories―I had escaped my hell!
I discovered that every fear is a lie because, yes when we get there, there may be peace in death but no love or joy. Through separation from my thoughts I began to find more and more peace in life which has turned into a more constant experience of joy and constant opportunity of love. My constant gradual opening to possibility has been a daily learning process which only continues when I become present to who I am being, experiencing the feelings of that fully and asking if it’s what I want to feel any longer.
As I reach the realisation in any moment that negativity holds me captive, I can move knowing positivity provides freedom and opportunity for newness of life, fear is a prison and love is an open space for really living. Lack is only a place I lived from and now gratitude gives peace and joy and abundance of everything I do want and this place is what life was always meant to be like. You can have it too.
My thoughts were my prison and now the calm is my freedom. I know that the see-er of my ego, my worries anxiety or fears that haven’t disappeared entirely they are now something to look at, to notice and question.
God is the divine power that gives us life, which means I wake up each day with Love and unending potential of power inside that ends in feelings of everything I want to be, do and have―that is where I live as long as I become present. I see darkness at times, but I know there is light, and I can move into and choose to stand in the light when I choose to move there in my mind.
Live in the knowledge that you are LOVED and know YOU matter because the impact of your legacy and the ripples you make on earth do live on to eternity. Breathe, focus on life itself, wait and the quiet voice will come. Move to and sit at the back of your mind, behind it and just look at your thoughts instead of being them or being in them notice they are in you. Be what you want to feel most. Your values (most important feeling needs) and how you achieve them are all that drive your actions. Study to show yourself approved of the see-er inside you, that is always saying ‘Be calm and be Love’.
Allow the flows of life to become your river, even when they become waterfalls because the waterfall has a still pond only a little down stream. Resistance holds on to what you don’t want to feel, allowing it to pass through however frightening returns control to you. It allows you to be the see-er of the moment, fully aware, to live wholeheartedly, and a single moment in time is all we can ever have.
Hi, my name is Ben.
I am a man with many roles―a husband, a father (of 4 great kids), a leader of people, a builder, a personal trainer, a life results coach, trainer and consultant, mostly someone who endeavours to be love while being in each of those roles.
My passion where ever I am, is fuelled by assisting humans to find healing from their pain and moving forward to what they really want by returning to who they were made to be. That is where I’ve seen fulfilment in every wholehearted human I have found.