When people speak of friendship, the majority only consider friends to be those they work with, people they grow up with or very close family members. In my experience true friendship is something more, something deep, something out of the ordinary, something substantial, having someone you can tell your inner most darkest secrets to without the fear of being judged. Sometime ago I wrote my feelings down on this blog site entitled “What does friendship mean to you”? I wrote that poem after going through an experience that temporarily squashed and shattered my personality and my confidence. Thinking back to the moment in question, I had finished work unusually early on a Friday evening and took the opportunity to go out with my best friend for a game of snooker and a few beers. After our game we walked up into the town centre where I bumped into a couple of other friends who invited me to join them for a drink. I don’t really remember much of what happened after joining them but here goes. After talking to them for a while inside the pub I walked outside, looked around the corner and saw a large group of men jumping all over my friends car which was parked just around the corner. I’m not sure if it was stupidity or bravery but I recall running down to the car and pulling a couple of them of the bonnet. It was from that point that my memory fails me and I can only give an account of what happened next from a few eye witness reports. The two friends I had joined and a bouncer from a pub that was situated across the road informed me that I was jumped on by the group of car wrecking thugs and I almost instantaneously disappeared underneath a sea of arms and legs that were kicking, punching and stamping me all over my head and body, and carried on attacking me even though I was already unconscious. I woke up two days later in a hospital bed barely able to move. I later discovered that I had been in a coma from the time of the attack. On the night of the attack my wife had been called away from work to be told I was in hospital. She told me that when she arrived she had walked past someone laying on a trolley without realising that badly beaten man with a head and face swollen beyond all recognition was actually me.
I remember struggling out of the hospital bed the day after regaining consciousness and walking over to a mirror that was hanging in my hospital room and staring at myself, unable to recognise or accept the person that was staring back. Strangely, the first thought that came to my mind was that I hadn’t brushed my teeth for days!
I can’t remember arriving back home, but I can remember sitting on the couch for hours and days, not saying much to anyone, not able to do much, just lost in my thoughts of trying to remember what had happened (Feeling Sorry for myself) and wanting, willing myself to heal quickly. The bruising, the cuts and the swelling eventually disappeared but I was shattered inside. It was a while before I could come to terms with my broken self and it was even longer before I could explain or express how I felt to anyone. This is where my one true friend came to the mark. I can’t remember going back to work but strangely, I can recollect that nobody seemed to care what had happened to me. I can’t remember any words of comfort or support from my so called workmates, that is none of them except for one. His name was Stuart and we had become really good friends over the course of a few years working together. Over those initial years of becoming friends we had grown into the habit of relaxing on his back garden every Friday night after work, putting the world to rights over a few well earned beers. I’m not sure how long it was after returning to work but eventually I returned to his back garden one Friday night and poured my heart out to the one person I knew would listen. I remember explaining how I felt about myself. My lack of self esteem had drained me of confidence, I no longer felt like a man, I felt like the little boy who just wanted his mum to hold him until the pain went away. I told him everything I was feeling as a few tears fell silently down my cheeks, and he didn’t say a word, he just listened, and understood. Looking back, it was from that moment that I started the long process of healing from the inside out.
I learnt a lot from that overall experience, the bad and the good. Although the night of the attack was a nightmare it would have been even worse if I was able to recall every detail. I may never have regained my confidence and self esteem. However, I did discover who my one true friend was and I truly believe that destiny brought us together so he could help and guide me through many of the trials that life has thrown at my feet thus far. Long may our friendship remain true and supportive.