My story starts when I was a child. I was always wondering why I was such a problem child at school, always at the principals office. I was a disruption apparently. I had trouble learning the same way that other people did - sitting down and rote-learning wasn't my thing.
My Dad was an accountant, from a family of accountants. My Mum your classic stay-at-home mother. She emigrated to Australia on the £10 plan when she was 28 years old, having been banished from her home and sent to Wales at 19 years old when she found out she was pregnant. Her baby had been taken from her and life was hard there. I think she hoped for a new life, far away in Australia...
I was a lonely kid. My Dad was gregarious and heavily involved in the surf club we went to. He was great at helping other people but I felt he found me a bit disappointing or hard to connect with, so I didn't have my own time with him.
At 13 years old, my parents divorced. I was sent for psych testing to see what was wrong with me but they couldn't come up with much. My mother moved 3 hours away with her new partner and I moved in with Dad. He would work late, get home at 10pm and I found solace in cooking, making meals for him.
When I was 16 years old my Dad met a difficult woman. She wasn't keen on me being around so I would be put in a hotel for the night when she visited. A funny thing, to leave a random hotel and go to school. My Home economics teacher said that "I would never make it." I left school for a while and then came back. By then, Dad had moved to Cairns, so I couch-surfed with friends until I finished school.
Dad sent money now and then and I moved into a flat living next door to crims. Not the best times hanging out with low life characters, high speed car chases and fights.
I had very low self-esteem and was depressed. I had a very dodgy room-mate that got so angry he stabbed me in the throat. The Universe threw me a bone. The young policeman who turned up was a guy I had gone to school with. This was a guy who had also been bullied at school.
I finished an apprenticeship as a chef, but found myself bullied again by another chef. He went a threat too far. Something took over in me and instead of letting myself be pushed around or pushed out of the job, I found myself pinning him against the wall and these words came out "This stops. Or I hit you. You hit the floor and the ambo hits 100 with you in it." After that, we became friends.
I started working in a top restaurant in Melbourne and became really passionate about cooking but was not looking after myself. I burned out on 16 hour straight days with little food or rest and realised I did not want to be a number. I needed to get out and see the world.
I travelled to some of the most dangerous parts of the world. Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. More than once I found myself in peril. In Israel, I hired a car and accidently drove onto an Israeli army base. I narrowly escaped being blown up. In Syria, I jumped a fence only just missing a land-mine. I was robbed at gun-point in Brazil and found that I was strangely fearless as they threatened to shoot me. This made them run away.
I worked at a Michelin Star restaurant in London and then one day, after 10 years of no contact, I heard from my Father. He rang crying to say his partner had died, he had been left with 2 young kids and needed help. I flew home. Dad was sick and I nursed him and cooked for him.
About that time I was reading a book called "Mankind" It helped me make peace with my Father. I needed to do it while he was bedridden, while he couldn't run away. I healed a lot of the past with him as he lay dying.
My upbringing and lack of connection with family had an impact on my ability to keep relationships. I would love a woman deeply and then suddenly just want it to be over. I met a woman I really cared about and it dissolved again. I found myself in the lowest place one night as I stood looking over Story Bridge, wondering if I could jump. Suddenly my sister's face appeared in front of me and then my mother's voice saying "I'll never forgive you if you do this." It stopped me.
I threw myself into personal development - throwing 10 grand at learning to understand myself at a deeper level. I explored psychology, spirituality, the occult, many things. I met an indiginous healer who said he pulled something out of me that was keeping me in a dark place. I shook uncontrollably. After this healing, the heavy loneliness disappeared. I taught myself the didgeridoo and started teaching others.
Sound healing is a way for me to help and connect with others. It has become a powerful tool to help other people suffering from anxiety and depression, issues I suffered with for years. It feels really good to help people.
Life has been an interesting journey for me. I certainly feel like I have lived. I recognise that what I have experienced helps me to connect with anyone, at any level. Knowing the scars of life has helped me better help others with theirs.
An excerpt from Leith's story
for our new men's book "Made by Scars - the men's series"
Copyright Made Beautiful by Scars 2016