Camino June 8th (Chris)

Had a great meal last at my albergue (San Anton Abad), it’s attached to a hotel and restuarant… the bread was to die for, and the waitress even brought me butter, and then more bread for the road!  The people were VERY friendly, and the old guy that welcomed me into the albergue in the first place only charged me one euro for the two hours I spent putting together yesterday’s post.

Decided to have breakfast there as well this morning, as it was going to be a long way (12km, 3 hours) to the next town, San Juan de Ortega.  As I´m waiting for the restaurant to open, I see Antonio approaching.  He looks likes he’s going to continue up the trail, and I talk him into letting me buy him breakfast.  He tells me that he spent a day being angry about being robbed, but that today, he has let it go.

I walk in solitude again, and there doesn´t seem to be many people on the trail at all today… I’m greatful for that, as I really do feel like being alone with my own thoughts.

On the camino, I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to the last years of my brother’s life; how traumatic the experience was for me, and how my needing to care for Tim almost ripped apart my own little family.

The whole ordeal triggered unresolved emotions from when my mom died of the same disease, and a feeling of having to make up for not being there for my mom as much as she may have needed me to be… plus… I knew only painfully too well what Tim was heading into, and it tore me to pieces to watch him go through the progression of the disease… it literally devistated me… I was an emotional wreck doing my best to comfort/care for my kid brother in his final days… at the expense of ‘being there’ for my wife and kids.

In moving Tim to Ottawa, I had expected that he would have more of a support system around him, that people would be there to help, to take part in some small way with his care… after all… my family is usually a close-knit bunch, and some of them had been through this before.

Now, I don’t want to dredge up that whole era of my life in too much detail, but suffice it to say that I felt hurt, betrayal and abandonment towards some family and friends that I had anticipated would ‘rise to the occasion’, or at the very least provide some sort of support for Christina and I… as well as my sister, who was very active in Tim´s life.

I have spent years feeling negatively towards some people, and not others, and I´ve been doing my best to ´let go´of these negative emotions… to ´let go´of the hold the past has had on me.

I realize that it was wrong of me to have any expectations of help/support from ANYONE… you can´t put that on people… and it was wrong of me to think that people would jump out of the woodwork to help… people will generally do what they are capable of in a dire situation, and god only knows what might have already been on the various emotional plates when I needed them.

I certainly would have appreciated more help, and I´m sure Tim would have as well, but it was wrong to expect it.  The results of my expectations led me to feel anger and resentment, hurt and betrayal towards those whom I expected more from… and I´ve had little if any contact with a big part of my family, and some once close friends.

It was one of the most tragic events of my life, and looking back on that time now, I wish I could/would have responded/thought differently… and I regret for all intents and purposes, severing family and friends from my life… it was a ´self protection´mechanism, I suppose… I was feeling hurt, and didn´t want to open myself up to more hurt.

I´m willing to accept that people did what they could, and that if they didn´t do anything, for whatever reason, that I shouldn´t have expected any different from them… I can only appreciate and treasure the support I/we did receive.

I´m not sure where that leaves me… I´m in the process of making peace within myself and I have a need/desire to reconnect with those whom I´ve cut off ties with for almost 5 years.

The past is the past… I look forward to a future where it doesn´t have such a hold on me.

Maybe there´s something to this walking the Camino thing…



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9 Responses
  1. Angus says:

    Wow Chris, I remember talking with Christina a lot when you guys were going through this with Tim and couldn’t even imagine that happening to one of my brothers or how I would react or what kind of support I’d have received from Janet and the girls. I don’t believe I’d have done half the job you two did for Tim and I’m sure he appreciated every minute of it. Janet is the campasionate one in our family where I find it easier to help strangers at a distance by giving money.

    Looks like you’ve been carrying quite a burden all these years. I’ve heard it said that forgiveness benefits the forgiver far more than the forgivee and in fact I’ve experienced this myself. Most people we’re angry with continue their lives oblivious to the anger or hurt we’re feeling towards them and possibly wouldn’t understand, agree or even care with our feelings in the first place. In the end forgiving and letting go lifts the burden off your shoulders and makes you a better and much happier person. I like to try to assume that there was some valid reason the other person did or did not do something that maybe I’m not aware of and give them the benefit of the doubt e.g. maybe they have other stresses or emergencies distracting them and taking their time. In the case where it happens multiple times I still choose to forgive them as maybe they can’t help themselves but I also can choose to no longer interact with them which is the reason I only see certain relatives at Christmas 🙂

    I’m really seeing the benefits of the Camino pilgrimage. At first I wasn’t sure I agreed with the two of you doing it separately however reading the blogs from both of you I think you made the right choice. Maybe the next time you can do it together 🙂

    • chris says:

      Thanks Angus, I appreciate the feedback… the Camino really does give you the opportunity to grow.

  2. Jurgen says:


    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like the Camino is also for your proving to be not just an outer journey but also an inner one.

    Buen Camino!


    • chris says:

      It certainly is Jurgen… interesting what can happen when you have absolutely nothing else to do but walk… I think it comes as part of the Camino experience, if you let it.

  3. christina says:

    Hi Chris
    I´m actually quite stunned by this post. You´ve really been doing some soul searching out here on the Camino. Thanks for sharing your intimate journey.

  4. Connie and Yves says:

    Chris..Awesome post,I bet you feel much better that it’s out..I totally agree with you..Your sister is doing great and and you nephew and niece are also doig awesome…Renee and Ryan loves to look at all uncle Chris and aunt Christna`s pictures.. your bro in law Yves

    • chris says:

      Thanks Yves… you know how hard that time in my life was on me… and it´s taken me all this time to come around to being ready to let it go.

  5. Claudette says:

    Hi Chris,
    Somehow I missed this posting, but I’m glad I found it, and even happier that you are sorting through all that baggage. Angus is a very wise man. You’re fortunate to have him in you circle of friends/family. 🙂
    Take care,

    • chris says:

      Hi Claudette…
      The inner journey is a lot more difficult to navigate than this external ´Camino´ journey… been fumbling around in the fog far too long with some baggage… Angus is a wise man, and I´m also very fortunate to have you in my circle… I truly appreciate your friendship!