Life, changed in one moment

This post is likely one of the reasons i began this blog. I was, and am still not sure how to go about writing this. Or, if i should write anything at all. However, i just read a post on Cristian Mihai‘s blog. http://cristianmihai.net/2014/10/07/over-the-edge/, and i have been inspired to at least attempt to get out what i need to.

Success

A little over a year ago, i had seemingly had life worked out. I had a great job, paying my well into the six figure mark. I had flexible hours of work and could come and go as i pleased. I could do what i liked, when i liked.

Prior to landing this job, the previous five or so years of my life were spent travelling the world and my country enjoying myself. Sure, life had its ups and downs, but, i was at a point where i finally thought i had my life sorted out.

The day that all changed

We often hear about horror stories in the news, in books, from other people. But we never think for a moment that something terrible could happen, at any point. Well, for me, something did happen. Something that would send my life into a downward spiral of nightmares, lost friends, alcohol abuse and losing my job.

So, it was a colleagues 30th birthday. The plan was to go camping in the beautiful Northern Territory wilderness. He went out a few days before with his family, wife, two kids and his mother. Myself, along with 8 other work colleagues would join in the festivities that weekend.

The day began like you would imagine. Breakfast, a few beers, pack the cars and go. All smiles and good times, we were all going to relax and soak up some much needed time out of the city.

We arrived at the camp site, unpack and told a few stories of the day so far. Everyone in high spirits, kids running around, adults all parked in their favourite camp chairs in anticipation of a long afternoon.

Moments I will never forget

It was hot, tropical summer hot. The kind of dank, wet filth that goes along with being that close to the equator. Fuck it, i thought i would go have a swim to get the dirt off me and freshen up. I was not born in the NT, i knew no better.

My friend followed me down to the river. “Mate, you cant swim in there”… “Why, it’s hot, i need to cool off”.

He had actually talked me out of it at this point. With warnings of crocodiles and their feeding habits. Apparently at that time of the day, they are out and looking for an unsuspecting victim.

I will never know why, but i was walking back to the camp. “You coming in then?”. I turned around, he had decided to jump in. Well, that was all the encouragement i needed, off came my shirt and in i went.

We were in for no more than 20 seconds. I hear a, “Oh FUCK!’… i look up to see a wake of water heading toward us at a blinding speed. It was a crocodile.

He had already started swimming back to the bank at that point. I turned and swam for my life too. I passed him.

I got back to knee deep water and turned, he was not next to me. I looked back to see an image that will now be burned into my mind for the rest of my life. A little more than an arms reach away, there he was…. Inside the beasts mouth. It started turning him around, his hand up in air.

He looked at me, that moment lasted a year. He just looked at me, he knew it was too late. It was almost a, “go mate, im fucked already” look. Then, he went under. That was the last time i was to ever see him. Gone. Not even a ripple in the water, just, gone.

That Night

Due to the remote location, and the situation, we all had to stay at the site. After our friend was just eaten alive, perhaps by fault of mine. I will never forget my friends 4 year old daughter asking me, “where is he?, why are you so sad?”…. Man…. This was like a fucking bad dream, only it was real, very real.

News crews, police and rescue services were all there. Gunshots all night as they hunted down the killer. At one point, we all had to give statements to a detective, as there was a good chance by that stage they wouldn’t find a body…….

They eventually found him, just so you know.

Aftermath

I can’t tell you how i feel about it all, even now. Some of the people out there that day still blame me, and don’t talk with me. And i don’t blame them for it either. For a long time, i blamed me too.

I quit my job, i left the state, never to return. To add to this story, 3 weeks after this event, my mother was diagnosed with final stage lung cancer. She passed away 2 months after. But that is a story for another time.

I don’t know if i will ever be ok again. Not like i was before anyway. Life is different now. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this. I have been all the way to the edge, in darker corners than i’d care to comment on.

However, life must go on. I still cry sometimes when i think about it. I still dream about it, although my partner says that is finally getting better. I guess what im trying to say is, we all get down some times. However, it is important to look forward as much as possible. If you dwell on the past for too long it will become your prison.

For anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD; you are not alone.

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29 comments

  1. I’m so sorry 😦 One of the stages of grief that is perfectly normal is guilt. So it wouldn’t matter whether you were there or not. In fact, as was the case with me when a young friend died, I blamed myself for NOT being there. Still and all how horrific to remember 😦 and again I am so sorry. It is NOT your fault. God bless you!

    See “common symptoms of grief,” scroll down the page about 1/3 down –
    http://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief-loss/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is something no one should have to go through, yet you did, and there was no manual that taught you if such and such happens – this is what you do. I’m going to get a little heavy here so please bear with me. Everyone goes through things in their life having varying degrees of massive hurts. This was a really big life changing event. I’ve been going through things in my life that have been hurtful and very painful. I’m not comparing these to what you’ve gone through, only that there are many things that have happened “to” us in our lives. Some are more tragic than others. It is how we react to these things that determines what happens next. What you went through you had no choice on how to react. And you punished yourself so massively it affected your entire life. In all things – big and little – it is how we react to it that determines the depth of the damage. I am not saying that I would have been able to react to it any differently than you did. We are human and our emotions largely determine how we react to things. And how we react later determines what happens next. If we take a smaller thing – maybe someone at work got in your face and rudely mouthed off at you. You might have gotten angry and pushed him or even punched him, lost your job and had charges brought against you. Or – you could have looked at him like the idiot he was being and said, “Whatever” and go about your business. If he does anything else then it is him who gets in trouble. It is the reaction to the reaction of emotion that dictates what happens. This is the lesson I am trying to learn in my own life because I have a very short fuse and I usually react badly to stupidity. Who does that hurt? Me? Because of what happened in your life on that day and feeling responsible because you were told not to go in the water and didn’t stop him and it also ruined the lives of his family, and you think today that people still hold you responsible, it is like the man who flays his own back with a whip.

    Forgive yourself. The hardest thing in the world is to “let it go”. Nearly impossible. But do you think he would want your life to be so ruined by it? I don’t think so. Honor his memory by being the best person you can. Learn something from this that changes you in such a way and become a better person. What have you learned from him in any way that can affect your life positively? The only legacy one leaves behind at the end is the effect we have on other people. How do you want to affect other people? Have you talked with his daughter. Can you tell his daughter things about him she might not know? An experience you shared? Something that for a moment will make the memory of her father come alive. Find some way to find a positive. It is called “turning poison into medicine”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very touching… A big tragedy… It was not your fault. You’ve been through a lot but remember you are alive, cherish every moment of it, life can be cruel and merciless but it’s still a gift, you have people around you who need you. Whatever happened in your life was meant to be, you’ve survived, you’ve got ‘scars’ but you are still on Earth which means you are stronger than you think.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh my god. Talk about unreal. Talk about survivor’s guilt! I cannot even fathom what that must have been like. I do know it’s not your fault, which you know already, but I feel compelled to point out. You didn’t push a gun to his head and force him to obey. And you certainly couldn’t control what happened in the water.

    I had my family walk with me in the woods at midnight on New Years in Alaska one night. I happened to wake up a moose who had been sleeping peacefully in the trail. I didn’t see him until we were nearly upon him. He was angry and got up and raised his hackles and lowered his head. I was frozen in spot but did scream to the others to turn back. Next thing, the moose started to charge me.

    What happens next is my point. My body took control of what I did next. I took off sprinting. I couldn’t tell you who I passed or how. Even my beloved dog was back there with the moose, but my body was sprinting to safety.

    You can’t control what happens instinctively in a life-threatening situation. I’m am so, so, so sorry that you have to face being blamed by those others. When we run from a life threatening situation, it’s not like we are trying to be the only survivor — I hoped with all my heart that the others were running away too, including my dog, and that we’d all be safe. Me and my family were lucky. You and your friend were both not. I am beyond sorry that you have had this. ❤

    Tears and love for you. ❤

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for sharing your story above.

      Sorry to hear about your doggy… 😦

      No need to be/feel sorry for me, i decided to post this because there might be a day someone in a similar situation finds it while trolling online for answers. If it gets to them, then it served a purpose.

      Once again, appreciate the kind words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hit the like button, even though there’s not much to like here. Except your courage to tell your story. I applaud you. Somehow it makes a difference (telling it in writing). I’m not sure why. I just know that’s the truth about trauma.
    Elouise

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, very true regarding trauma. I often found/find it hard to get out what i need to without writing it. Perhaps why counselling sessions were not my thing. I once offended a counsellor by reciting verbatim some quotes from a book she was using to apply to my situation.. oh well.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Woahhh… I know saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t really help but I just seriously feel the need to reach out and virtually hug you. Not going to comment on the events because I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but I will tell you your writing was superb, I truly felt like I was there and in a way even felt/imagined you pain. So once again “I’m sorry”…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. I appreciate it, but there is no need to be sorry, or feel sorry for me. I got through it, and in a way i am better for it. I have become a strong believer in taking the positive out of everything. I know for fact my friend would not want me or anyone else dwelling on this, i am still unsure in a tangible sense ‘what’ the positives are exactly, but yeh. It’s all good. Thank you very much for the comment. Also, the ego boost re- my writing.. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You kind of got me wrong, I’m not really sorry for you its more like I’m sorry anyone would have to go through that. Although if it made you see the positive out of everything then perhaps I’m not…. either way the ego boost on your writing was really well deserved. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Holy shit. I can only imagine how much courage and strength it took for you to write about this. I love what you wrote…”If you dwell on the past for too long it will become your prison.” So true. I’m glad you’re doing better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks. Yeh, i will admit it was pretty hard. I have read over it a few times, and i am still not sure if it says exactly what i want it to. Guess there is no real answer for things like this. Really appreciate the comment though, thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

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