Quite often we stumble when making our way through life. There are ups and downs and, of course, many detours along the way. Recently I have had many ups in my life, but it seems the downs have had a much stronger pull than usual, and I find I am struggling to pick myself up.
It has become apparent in the last several weeks that what I perceived as helping other service affected Veterans through Soldier On Cycling just wasn’t hitting the mark. It was as if I was my efforts to provide assistance through cycling and other avenues was being humoured and that nothing substantial was being achieved. I thought hard about this realisation and wondered what I should do differently, what I could do to revitalise what I thought had stalled. It was at this point that I realised it was in fact me that had stalled and everything else had moved forward without me.
At first this upset me. This was something that with a handful of others I had built from scratch. An avenue for Australian Veterans to find a sense of purpose and enhance their recovery through cycling. It had worked for me and surely would work for others. And work it did, and it has grown into a massive community of Veterans and supporters across different Veterans support organisations.
This was my first step backward.
I needed to look back at what had been achieved in the past three years and look forward to what I realistically could contribute into the future. I was giving too much, offering too much and ultimately it was not helping at all.
Another step backward to try to step forward.
I ceased managing the Soldier On Cycling social media accounts and being the main point of contact for group members to contact. Recently the majority of interaction had been quite critical of the way the cycling initiative has been run, with a small number of interstate members were questioning the overall goal of Soldier On Cycling.
This was my first step forward.
My interaction with these members changed from acknowledgement to rebuttal. Like them I was just another member of an online social cycling group. I was a volunteer and I was having my integrity questioned by semi-anonymous Facebook profiles. More than anything this angered me, and after the criticism and threats I received post Trois Etapes 2014, it was obvious that the best course of action was to remove myself from the situation. The critics now had their chance to stand up and to make a worthwhile contribution to the group.
I started riding for my recovery when I separated from the Australian Army in 2012. Somewhere in the last few months I forgot this. I forgot cycling was supposed to be fun. I forgot cycling was supposed to be about connecting with friends. I forgot about my recovery.
A big step backward to look at moving forward.
I put too much emphasis on supporting Soldier On and Soldier On Cycling when it was me that needed the support. Since I procured the first Soldier On Cycling jersey three years ago I have ridden a total of three times in a different cycling strip. I felt obligated to fly the Soldier On banner; even more so since I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to ride as a part of Team Soldier On in last years Trois Etapes. Willingly and unwillingly I became the face and voice of Soldier On Cycling and every ride seemed to have a certain level of pressure and expectation attached to it.
Small steps forward.
Something as simple as deciding to wear a different cycling strip has been liberating. A new opportunity to embrace my cycling roots again has invigorated me.
While I am moving forward I am not turning my back on Soldier On and Soldier On Cycling. I will continue to interact with Soldier On and wear the Soldier On strip when I want to.
I am just taking control of my recovery and doing what it best for me.
To quote a very wise person: People should come and go, so go with a warm welcome back and a way to light the path.