Rich Evans: Bathurst Storyteller
The journey of recovery is sometimes a long and painful path, but it is one that when we are ready to start requires compassion and understanding from those around us. I am grateful to have that support, but I also understand many don’t.
Time is fast approaching that I will be joining my fellow cast members on stage for the This is my Brave Australia show, a big step in my own healing.
I have been practicing the song I will be performing, and have found I was obsessing over little details, like the exact tone, and the way I would setup my pedals for my guitar etc. – but all of this was just a way to not be obsessing about the subject matter of the song and why I was choosing to take the stage and tell my story in this way.
There is much more to the story than the song, but in the time I have for the performance I won’t get to tell it all, so I have decided to share it here, as the process of being able to confront and verbalise this time in my life has been a huge leap in my healing process.
—— My Story ——
My Name is Rich Evans. I am the CEO, the Founder, a reactivator, a designer, speaker, author, musician, artist, consultant, coach and editor. I am a tireless community volunteer, I am a father, and a husband.
These labels are how I identify myself, and have done for my entire adult life. Every time I fell into the abyss, my way back out was – as quickly as possible, and usually through work. Work hard. Get shit done. One foot in front of the other. But whatever it took, get out of the black hole of depression and push it aside.
I used to believe my mental toughness was a strength. It had driven me to achieve more in my 46 years so far on this planet than most do in 3 lifetimes. But that all changed on February 23, 2019.
My mental toughness had led me to a point where I was so busy, that the world was suffocating. It really did feel like all four walls were caving in…
To try and clear my head, I decided to go for a ride on my bike. In hindsight, that is the last thing I should have done. I left home, and just 500 metres down the road, I took a bend I had ridden 100 times before, hit some gravel began to slide and then I was falling. I slid and tumbled for 30m along the ground, broke my tibia, ripped my leg open, broke my hand in four places, split my helmet and wrote off my bike.
When the ambulance arrived they didn’t expect to find me standing upright, seeing the bike they thought they were there for a body.
I was flown to Orange Hospital, after a few days was operated on, checked over and given the all clear to head home to heal. My physical injuries were relatively minor which was amazing given what could have happened in a motorcycle accident.
It was not my physical injuries that were the issue however. Over the coming days and weeks, the mental injuries began to surface. I questioned how I survived, why I survived. What was it that saved me, and was there more purpose to it? Then, with idle hands, my mind got the better of me. Laying on my back not being able to do the most basic of human things without help I realised – My name is Rich Evans and I am nothing.
All the labels and identities I created were like layers of armour suddenly stripped away and out of my reach and I was vulnerable. I felt alone, scared and worthless.
What needs to be understood here was there was an outpouring of support from those closest to me, and the community at large, and whilst that was beautiful, it only served to make things worse as I didn’t feel worthy of that concern.
I have been at the place in my life a number of times where I had contemplated suicide, but there is a big difference between contemplation and sitting there with the instruments of your demise in front of you. This is where I found myself one evening.
The rest of the house was sleeping, I couldn’t so I had hobbled my way to the dining room table. I had reached a point where I felt it would be better for Kel if I hadn’t survived. How could I ever again be the husband and father I had been? She did not deserve a life of having to care for me in this state. I sat there till the early hours of the morning, trying to decide, but in the back of my mind, there was a thought. “Your kids will find you”.
I kept wrestling with that, how could I possibly do this to them?
And then it dawned on me, I had one identity no one could ever take away – My name is Rich Evans and I am a Father.
That was the moment my healing began. I asked for help. The next morning, I told Kel where I was at, or at least attempted to between sobbing breaths. We saw the GP and got referred to a psychologist.
My mental toughness that had always gotten me through was gone, and for the first time in my life I surrendered. Surrendered to the process, the work and the path.
I realised that there was no need to try and escape the abyss, because I would only fall back in again. I had to follow the path that leads through, and that path is the work.
The reason I kept falling is all those labels and identities I had created were worn like armour, but the armour was carried on the shoulders of a scared little boy who had never recovered from childhood trauma. A child in a man’s clothes, trying to find a way to exist in a world where he felt abandoned and unloved.
The armour was too much for the scared little boy to carry, so I had to shed the armour and start again and face the fears that had held me back all my life.
Over the next 6 months through regular visits and committing 100% to the process and the work, and with the loving support of my beautiful wife, I began a journey I now know will take a lifetime to complete. That is my purpose – to complete the journey. I no longer need to worry about why I am here. I know. One foot in front of the other on the right path to heal and be of service to those around me.
Slowly, I began to feel stronger, and more at peace with my path. There were dark days, and there will be again, but the knowledge that this too shall pass and that it is part of the process makes them an acceptable part of my life. The path is the work, and the work is the answer, and I never would have gotten there on my own.
I have put a lot of that armour back on now, and have started to walk boldly again in the world, with a new confidence, but more than that, a deeper understanding of why I have battled this all my life.
As I have grown into the man I was always meant to be, I can now say with confidence: My name is Rich Evans. I am a Father, a Husband. I am of great service to the community around me. I am an agent for change. My work here is not done, but it will be before I leave this life.