There’s a famous Chinese proverb that states a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but as I write this, I find myself afraid to take my next one.
THE STORY SO FAR
My life to this point has been a mixture of lows and highs; a dizzying roller coaster of experiences. I know that sounds very normal and nothing more than a standard ‘That’s life’ type of statement, however the highs and lows that I’ve experienced have felt somewhat peculiar to me. In truth, I’m a simple man, with simple wants and simple desires. All I’ve ever really wanted in life was to belong; to have a family, a wife, children, a nice stable career and a house. Those have been my simple requests from the menu of Life, however somewhere along the way I think the waiter must have gotten my order mixed up. For despite my simple wants, I’ve been served a turbulent and complex plethora of experiences in my life, things that I would never have chosen.
I think it was Hemingway that said we should bleed onto the page. Well I’m here, razor blade in hand and ready to cut myself, and to do so deeply. But know this—I’m not here to simply spill a few errant drops of scarlet life. No, I’m here to hemorrhage freely and to turn the page red with my truth. So if you’re afraid of blood, or the truth of a mans life, look away now because my name is Ethan Michael Carter and I’m here to share my soul, my truth, and all that I am.
THERES NO (FUCKED UP) PLACE LIKE HOME
Childhoods are never perfect. Everyone has their complaints, and rarely do any of us offer unblemished recounts of our upbringing. But despite the imperfections of other people’s experiences, I can only lament upon my own. My family life was tumultuous. I grew up watching and experiencing conflict on a daily basis; which was ironic because in my heart, I’ve only ever really wanted peace. They say that we are products of our environment, but I beg to differ because if that were true, I would be a toxic and evil person right now.
I was always a peaceful and happy kid. Despite the beatings, and despite the emotional abuse, inside me was always a light of goodness, a small flame of truth. That light did flicker during my formative years, bending and moving desperately under the winds of hell that surrounded me, but it never went out.
Seeing that my environment would always be launching unrelentingly assaults upon my senses, I built a wall around myself. It wasn’t a wall of bricks or stone, instead it was a wall of anger and hate—the only materials available to me as a child.
So I built this wall around my heart, I refused to let anyone or anything inside. The wall was my solace and protector, it kept me strong, and it kept me safe; shielding me from the barrages of hate that were constantly being launched at me.
But, the problem with hate and anger are that they are poor companions in the journey of life, and even worse advisors. Under the tutelage of my own vitriol, I joined gangs, indulged in drugs, and engaged in more violence than my 14 year old mind could take. And with my life being a mess—both at and away from home—I did what any confused and lost soul would do, I ran.
There is a certain romanticism that we associate with leaving our present messes behind and running out into the world in a pursuit of adventure. Many authors and screenwriters have written stories that follow the patterns of the monomyth or hero’s journey. From Jason and the Argonauts, to Star Wars; from The Count of Monte Cristo to Harry Potter, we are all familiar with the journey’s that our protagonists must take in order to fulfill their respective destinies. Yet isn’t it funny how we focus on the high points of their experiences, while skimming over the lows.
What this notion of optimism does well, is to the hide the harsh realities contained within the fact that life doesn’t owe us a damn thing.
As I set off in haste from my abusive household and life, all I could see was my escape. I thought I was leaving my problems behind me. But what I didn’t realize though, is that I was simply leaving one hell for another…
SLEEPLESS IN LONDON
London is great city.
It’s history and heritage are famous, and its worldwide allure is well deserved.
But, for a 14 year old with no money, friends or family, the city was a nightmare.
My days were spent scavenging for food, and looking for ways to survive the almost infinitely long hours the day seemed to bring. And my nights were spent avoiding the other homeless people, who were more dangerous and psychotic than could ever be described in one article. I guess when men and women lose hope in life, they also lose their humanity too. This the only way that I can rationalize the animalistic behavior that I witnessed amongst the homeless during those terrifying and danger-filled nights.
But thankfully, my story doesn’t end there. I was, through the kindness and compassion of my mentor that found me, able to escape that environment. And I did get to enjoy a semblance of normality, and to taste what it felt like to belong.
As the years trickled past and I grew older, my mentor helped me to take down the walls of hate and anger that I had built around my heart. Actually, that previous sentence is a lie; one that misleads and misrepresents the process that I went through to free myself of hate and it’s unholy hold upon my soul.
Hate feels natural, it makes sense, and it’s easy to welcome it in. But I know what it does to a man, it poisons him from within, killing off the person that he wanted to be, and leaving him with a mangled shadow of what he is—which is everything he promised himself he’d never become. My upbringing and homelessness had turned what was a once a good, kind and trusting heart, into an angry ball of hatred; one that protruded with spikes of emotional angst. It took much time and effort to free myself from the tangled mess I was, and to unwind what I had become, to see what I could be.
After years of ironing out the wrinkles of my past from the garments of my life, I started to enjoy the peace that comes from progression. I worked hard, and took on a career that I loved as a fight choreographer within the world of film and television. I had also met, fell deeply in love with, and was engaged to, a beautiful woman called Samantha. After many years of turmoil, life finally had started to make sense to me, and calmness had become the soundtrack of my life.
However that tranquility was rudely interrupted a few short years later.
It was New Year’s Eve 2009. Samantha was pregnant and we were both looking forward to welcoming our new arrival into the world, only months away.
On this New Year’s Eve we had decided to go and meet our various friends and family members in the day, and then to meet up in the evening and see the new year in together. It was a simple and logical plan. And I still remember driving past her car on that morning as we waved each other goodbye and set off on our errands. What I didn’t know though, is that I wasn’t waving her goodbye for now, but for forever. That evening, on her way to meet me, she was involved in a car accident. In a heartbeat of moments, I lost both my fiancée, our unborn child, and the wholeness of my heart.
Have you ever dropped a glass? Have you ever watched it break into a million pieces of separation, leaving only jagged edges of deformity? I often think that’s what my heart must have done that evening. To experience loss so deep and so unstoppable that you feel it puncture your skin, muscle, bone, and heart; impaling your very soul in its relentless path.
I didn’t break that evening, I shattered. The aftermath of which, left a shell of a man that was devoid of life, meaning, rhyme or reason. If I’m honest at this point it felt as if every time I thought I was heading in the right direction, all I did was end up in a place where I never knew I could feel this bad.
THE WALKING DEAD
For a year after the accident, I tried to function. I tried to live normally. I tried to work hard and immerse myself into life. I made career goals, pursued them, socialized, and did everything I could to stay busy. But no matter how busy you are, you can’t escape the silence. Those quiet silent moments. They were the worst. They were the times when the whispers of loss became deafening screams in my ears—times when only the numbness of alcohol could appease me.
“I don’t have a problem,” I would say to myself as I knocked back my eighth, ninth, or tenth glass of vodka for the day. “No,” I said as I refilled my empty glass “Not me. I don’t have a problem.”
Like a poor mans superhero I led a double life. By day, I was Hardworking Ethan Michael Carter, and by night I was Alcho-man, my superpower—consuming more vodka than a Russian village. In a lot of ways I felt like I was already dead. I breathed, I moved, yet I was devoid of life.
In my drunken and tear-filled moments I would write letters to Samantha. I missed her so much, and writing seemed like the only way I could talk to her. I had always loved writing, but I never thought I could pursue it as a career. Samantha had always wanted me to pursue my passion, but I lacked her belief in my abilities. But now, all I had was my words and the emptiness of paper in front of me, so I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, all to communicate with someone that I knew couldn’t hear me.
I couldn’t live like this anymore, and eight months later I quit my job and got on a plane to Los Angeles. Why LA? When I was nineteen, I had travelled there for a holiday. The city and its artistic vibrancy had tattooed itself upon my soul. I had been there many times since, and each time it had always felt—for want of a better word—right. So much so, that I decided to go there now, all with the aim of ending it all. My plan was to drown in a tsunami of vodka and cocaine, and to die. I didn’t though (obviously) as when I was there I met someone who turned my life around, and got me into writing. This, then led to me coming back to the UK and pursuing a writing career as a ghostwriter.
It wasn’t easy to start with, but I soon found my stride within the ghostwriting world. It wasn’t long before I was making a living out of it. And in my moments of solitude I would often find myself looking out of a window up at the sky, wondering if Samantha could see me, and hoping she knew how thankful I was to her about her belief in my writing. She had believed in me, when I was unable to do so. That in itself was a gift that I could never repay.
And that is where my story ends. Or at least where it should have…
HEADACHES ARE A BITCH
“Fuck this,” I said under my breath while massaging my temples.
It was nearing the end of 2014. I had writing deadlines to meet, and my head was feeling as if it was in a vice. I figured that the pain was due to stress and the effect of overworking, but the reality was different.
Later that day I took a drive to the mall. I figured that some fresh air and a change of scenery would do for me what the copious amount of painkillers I had taken could not. As I walked around the menswear section of a department store, I suddenly felt as if the room was moving away from me. My ears felt as if I had been immersed in water. And it also felt as if someone had turned the pain meter in my head up to the MAX setting. Within moments, everything went black.
I woke up in hospital and was told that I had suffered a brain aneurysm. That sinking feeling I had felt in the mall had been a rupture which had caused blood to pour out of my nostrils, ears, and eyes.
This event began a two year fight with brain aneurysms, one that ended up claiming my career, and (slightly more importantly) my life. During these two years I experienced many aneurysm episodes, and out of these, 8 were full blown ruptures that killed me for 5 to 7 minutes at a time.
And now to the part that I have spent the last few thousand words avoiding, what I saw on the other side.
THE OTHER REALMS
I say that I’ve been trying to avoid talking about this subject because I’m a practical man.
For most of my life I’ve never liked nor respected religion. I’ve never been particularly spiritual either. In fact I actually used to openly mocked spiritualists.
I have always believed in a Higher Power, but not in the churchy sense. Through I’ve never really invested my beliefs or efforts in such matters. Instead I’ve always been a man rooted in hard work and someone that has seen life and destiny as something that resided in our own hands.
But, after my NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) my life and beliefs changed.
I saw what is on the other side, and did so many times. Even now, I still am able to visit these Other Realms, albeit (thankfully) without having to die.
I have, thanks to the encouragement of a fellow NDE’er Tricia Barker, posted some of what I saw on the other side of life, here on her excellent website So if you’re curious, then please check out the article. Plus while you’re there, make sure to check out Tricia’s story too.
But now though, I feel as if it’s time that I come out of the spiritual closet so to speak, and it’s time for me to start talking about the things I have seen on the other side, and in the Other Realms.
As part of this path, I have decided to travel to different countries while I write about my Other Realm experiences. I will be writing articles that will convey the teachings that I have learned during my NDE’s. And I am also writing a book based on my experiences. As romantic as all this sounds, I have no problem in admitting how scared I am.
In an act of belief, faith, and spiritual growth, I’m leaving behind all I know in the UK to travel, teach and write about my experiences. It is time to document my own heroes journey that I have experienced in the Other Realms, while simultaneously traveling and living out my adventures in this realm. I guess as a man, I’ve reached a point in life when I realize that manliness is not about strength or childish displays of arrogance; it’s about integrity, authenticity, and living with purpose. I realize now, that it is not our words that define us, but the echoes of our actions. I won’t lie, I’m at a place where the future is looking at me directly, and I’m sinking under it’s intimidating stare. Like a mirror, it’s steely eyes reflect back at me all my past faults and failings, hoping to make me crack and run for shelter like a scared child. But I’m trying to be strong. I’m trying to dig deep inside me to find and use any semblance of bravery that may exist within me. I know I have to keep moving forward because if I don’t, then I have lost before I have begun. And in this sea of reflective realizations, I realize that people may claim to want freedom. But really the only freedom that they seek, is that to choose comfort over work, and delusion over change.
With that said I hope you enjoy, learn from, and find life changing value within, all the spiritual articles I will be writing from now on. It is time for me to journey out into the world, and become a living example of all that I have learnt.
Until next time, make sure to Live More Than You Exist.