Emotional States of London

Emotional States of London

Six years ago Regents Park was my local park. I was living as a property guardian in the ex-Lithuanian embassy just around the corner; a grand townhouse with emerald green carpets, floor to ceiling windows and a sweeping staircase. I enjoyed reduced rent zone one living, in return for keeping the place occupied whilst the owners decided what they wanted to do with it.

This was the scene for what would be two of the most pivotal moments in my life thus far.

The first began with a phone call. It was my friend from back home in Sheffield. He wasn’t a friend I usually chatted to on the phone, so I knew something was wrong the moment I saw his name flash up. His words arrived slowly, stretching out across the miles that separated his mouth from my ear:

“Rita’s been in an accident…”

My stomach dropped.

“She didn’t make it.”

I sat there with my phone in my hand unable to speak. I didn’t cry right away, as you might expect, I just sat there, my brain trying to process the worst news I never imagined I’d hear. My best friend Rita, my sister through love and shared experience, had been travelling in Bolivia when her bus crashed down the side of a mountain, she died instantly. Later I found out there were 30 people on the bus and only she died. In the grip of grief I searched for meaning but found none.

We were 24. I couldn’t handle the unfairness of it. Rita and I had grown together through first loves, heartbreaks, secrets, dreams, jobs, and illegal raves. I had counted on her to be around for the last of everything too.

Losing her felt like losing me. I didn’t get out of bed for a week and when I did I immediately wished the world would stop so I could get off. I felt broken. Lost. Empty.

Desperately I tried to fill the void with drink, drugs and passionately distracting and destructive relationships; anything that would temporarily numb the pain of losing the person closest to me.

My grief was reckless, caring not if I lived or died, and then…

Almost exactly a year after I lost Rita, I was crossing the road outside the embassy when a four-thousand-three-hundred-and-fifty-four-pound black cab smashed into my body, flipping me up into the air and onto the tarmac.

I woke up in an ambulance barely conscious, but laughing. My neck was in a brace and I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down. “What are you laughing at?” the paramedic asked me. “I’m alive!” I said trying to smile, my tongue swollen as thick as my mouth. In that moment as adrenaline, morphine and pure gratitude coursed through my body, I knew I needed to live. I knew I must be here for a reason. I believed Rita had saved me and I sure as hell would not let her down.

My sister Rosie came to visit me after the accident. We sat in Regents Park watching the ducks, barely saying a word, the sun resting on our faces. I could feel its hot rays warming the little ribbons of plastic sticking out of my forehead where the stitches were.

What followed was a steep trajectory of self-reflection, healing and deep transformation. Sometimes I’d sit in the park for hours, by the weeping willow tree that hangs over the river. Little did I know on the other side of that tree lay my future.

Six years on, I am sober, happier than I’ve ever been, and living in a beautiful little flat in Honor Oak Park, that I bought last year with my girlfriend, and our two rescue cats Chico and Boo. In pursuit of my new found purpose I have found myself back in Regents Park, at Regents University, training to become a transformational coach, with Animas Centre for Coaching; the World’s leading school in Transformational Coaching.

I’m deeply moved by the serendipity of learning how to help others create change and experience transformational shifts in their lives and businesses, in a place that has been so pivotal in my own journey. And I’m curious to discover where my emotional relationship with Regents Park will venture next.

Originally published in March 2018 on Less Stress London, as part of their series ‘Emotional States of London’, where they asked me to reflect on an area of London that holds significance for me.

If you’re going through a transition in your life and need some support navigating your path get in touch.

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