Pathways To Peace

A blog by Tom Gale 27 Jun 2022

Pathways To Peace

It took for something truly horrible to happen to me before I was able to figure out what meant most to me. I was living on my own in the town of Pontypridd in South Wales. I worked in Cardiff and was beginning to enjoy life again after having worked through some difficult times. I was so ashamed and traumatized that I couldn’t go out. I was isolated and alone. I was anxious all the time and for a while the hopelessness was as devastating as what happened to me. One of which is the power of friendship.

“___a friend who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

What I did have was a friend who wouldn’t take no for an answer. When I so no I mean I didn’t answer the phone when he called or reply to any texts or emails. After a few days he got on a train to come see me, spending his unemployment benefit to do so, as he saw that as cause for concern. He wouldn’t take no for an answer when I tried to hide from him when he knocked on my door. He called me on it, making me feel even more ashamed than I already did. Enough to let him through the door. He then saw that the place was in a state and set about doing something about it, demanding that I go shower as the stink of me was quite unpleasant. By the time I was cleaned (at least outwardly) and put some clean clothes on he had made tea and heated up a couple of pasties he just happened to have in his bag. 

After which he wouldn’t take no for an answer yet again when I told him nothing was wrong.

He then informed me that he would not be leaving until I had given him an explanation of what was happening. He wasn’t even phased when I told him he’d have to sleep on the floor. 

“___He wasn’t even phased when I told him he’d have to sleep on the floor. “

It was that that broke my silence actually. The thought of my dear friend who had come to see me to make sure that I was OK and already done so much for me I couldn’t make him suffer sleeping like a homeless person in my home. 

So I slowly and very emotionally told him what had happened in every gory detail. Having to stop frequently to control my sobbing as I did so. He just held my hand and looked into my eyes even when he welled up and tears trickled down his face. It killed me seeing those tears. However without them things may well have gone in another direction. However this friend of mine knew things that I didn’t as he was at University studying to become a Social Worker. He had come out in his late teens and was a Gay Activist and the President of the Cardiff Gay Men’s Group. He knew that this had to be reported to the Police. By this time I had reconciled myself that he would not take any no’s for answers so I let him make phone calls and arrange appointments and read aloud letters and emails. He also made sure that I booked an appointment to have an HIV test. Taking the test wasn’t too traumatic but when I was informed that I would have to wait two months for the results. That felt like I was being kicked whilst I was down. Have you ever had to wait for anything for two months?  If you haven’t then count your blessings. If you have then you have an inkling of what I was like. 

Today depending on the type of virus you have the longest time you would have to wait would be a few days. Although often it could be as short as 20 – 30 mins.  

Again my friend refused point blank to take no for an answer when he packed some things and took me to Cardiff to stay with him until the results came back. 

He came with me to every appointment and interview that I had although he wasn’t in the room during them he hung around just in case the news from the room I’d left needed a big hug.

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