I finally have a date for my last day at work after being messed about by my employer for the last year or two! Yes, I really have been facing redundancy for that long! My last day in employment will be 29th June 2012, and rather than panic and start looking for a new job, I am excited by the prospect of not having to answer to anyone for a while! My wife and I have unfortunately agreed that our marriage is over, so rather than find somewhere to live, I have decided to make the most of a bad situation. Having no job and effectively having nowhere to live (don’t worry, I’m not on the streets just yet!) means that I am able to walk the Camino – and take my time while I’m at it! I have nothing to rush back for; although I am going to miss my two daughters like crazy so don’t want to be away forever….
I first heard of the Camino from dad, who has spoken about wanting to do it himself for a while. Then, around Christmas time he showed me the movie ‘The Way’ with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Seeing the film really made me want to do it, and with my current situation I figured now is probably as good a time as any. I feel a little guilty to be doing it before him but he understands that this is a perfect opportunity for me to do it before settling back down and getting a new job and somewhere to live.
I have already bought some walking boots which I have been breaking in on a few training walks. I am going to try to walk at least every other day until I go so that I am at least a bit prepared for the 800kms from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela! My boots are comfortable but I am already getting a blister in the same spot every time I go out for a long walk. I will see if my feet harden up but if not I may have to consider getting some different walking boots and starting again. I have bought the John Brierley guidebook that was recommended to me by some members over at Camino de Santiago Forum and have booked my plane ticket to Biarritz in France. I will be flying on 3rd July 2012 so still have plenty of time to get myself ready before then.
My cousin Matt has kindly agreed to come with me for the first week or so of my trip to help me get into it – he speaks fluent Spanish whereas I speak none(!) and he has already done the Camino once before so knows the ropes… Also, I am very nervous. Another reason that I am doing the Camino is to try to get over my anxieties. I have suffered with agoraphobia since I was attacked at the age of 17. At first I didn’t know what was wrong with me, just that I was suddenly scared of going outside, being in crowded places etc. It wasn’t until I joined the RAF that I was diagnosed as being agoraphobic as well as having Social Anxiety Disorder. This means that as well as being useless in crowded places, I am scared around people who I don’t know and in places that are not familiar to me. Not good for someone who chose to join the RAF as a driver of all things! I have never told my friends or family about any of this, instead trying to hide it and cope with it by myself. I have always felt ashamed of it – it’s not easy to be a fully grown man who’s scared of such normal everyday things. But I have decided that part of my Camino, part of my personal journey, includes being honest about who and what I am. I’m not going to hide it anymore, people can take me or leave me! I even feel a bit better having just sat and typed all that!
This isn’t going to be a blog about me feeling sorry for myself, and I’m certainly not fishing for sympathy here. I’m just getting a few things off my chest and trying to explain why I am going and what it is I want to achieve out of it.
I will post more on my preparation as my flight gets closer but for now the blog is going to be pretty quiet. I just wanted to make sure it was set up so that I could familiarise myself with how to publish content so that when I go I can just start posting when I want. I am going to get myself an iPad or similar so that I can update my blog in real-time as I do the Camino. I doubt that I will be able to post each day but will try to every few days or so once I am in Spain.
I can’t wait to go and start blogging all about my journey!
(Edit: Since writing this blog I have further been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.)