“By sharing my story with those close to me, I wanted to help them better understand me – where I grew up, how I was raised, who my family is or was, what I’d endeavoured and overcome, and how I came to be where I am today.”
It was a moment when holidaying in Dubrovnik recently that my wife and I decided to talk to our children about sharing my story with the world. After all, this book started out as a gift to them. I wanted to capture my childhood experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. This is why this book is big for me.
To see the trauma I faced as a child written down in detail on paper in front of me and to have to explain it to my own children is an experience like no other. I was surprised and proud at their emotional intelligence at such a young age, their reactions and also the questions that followed.
This book is therapy, but there will still be more to come. This is just part of the process. I thought this would be the end of the process however as it turns out the journey of self-improvement never ends. This book is a gift to my family however I also hope it will inspire others to open up, share their vulnerabilities and start their own journey to a better life. It’s “For those looking for inspiration and striving to make a change in their life, I want them to believe that anything is possible and that the impossible is only temporary. Whatever your experience, the sooner you own it, the sooner you will grow from it. Life will knock you about, people will push you to your limits, but it’s up to you to get up, keep walking and acknowledge your self-worth.”
There were so many crucial moments that lead to me writing my experiences down. One defying moment was when a long-time friend and respected colleague Josino connected with me on Linked In. I had not heard from him for over 20 years. We lived parallel lives with one difference – he told me he was suffering from pancreatic cancer. He died a year later and what followed was a tumultuous couple of years as I lost both my parents and my former business partner and ‘brother’ Gaby. This loss truly shook me to the core. And so began my existential crisis (don’t worry, I had no idea what it was either until I started having one!) My fear of death and the questions about how I have lived my life so far consumed me. “I could die any moment and what did I have to give my children to remember me by? Did I tell Sohani I loved her enough? Did Mr and Mrs Singh know just how much it meant to me that they took me in as one of their own children?” and it went on.
Perhaps it was serendipity that a year later I found myself sitting next to Mona Saade at a Partnership Council Meeting for the Chris O’Brien Life House for Cancer Research. Mona encourages people to write their story while they are receiving treatment. She captures their lives on paper while they spend endless hours in the clinic. I asked if she would write mine and that’s where it began.
We met weekly, not even Sohani knew what I was doing and I started to tell my story. It was raw, cathartic, terrifying, exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.
Eventually I had to fess up – I was writing MY story, unedited. I questioned myself - was I ready to take whatever came from laying out the traumatic events of my childhood? Had I healed enough to handle bringing it all back?
The answer is that healing will take time and I will learn to accept and grow from it. What I do know is that right now I couldn’t be happier. I have a family who love me unconditionally and who know where I have come from. I have a business I am proud of and I have friends who every day encourage me to be exactly who I am. I am excited about the future – about watching my children enjoy the early life I wish I’d had and building this life with my beautiful wife.
The choice to self-publish this book and share it is simple. Every day when I step into the café I realise just how far I have come. I hope my story will give people the courage to rise above whatever adversity they may have faced and realise it doesn’t need to define your future.
So this is my story, ‘Chopped and Served’, captured for those I love, and anyone else who wishes to have a better insight into me, David Bitton in the raw.
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