From Freedom To Regeneration

In January 2018 I chose ‘freedom’ for my one word for the year. It was, like all my one words, both a declaration of intent, and a statement about who I was becoming. And as ever, it took on new meaning over the year.

It began as an attempt to be free from the trauma of my past. For it to no longer control me. To be free to tell a new story, not held back from the past. I remember thinking this as I pondered this word for the year.

In my favourite TV show Doctor Who, the Doctor and his wife River Song, spend a night by the Towers Of Derilium, a place far across the galaxy. And one night in that place lasts 24 years. And 2018 may only have been 365 days, but those days felt longer than 24 hours.

I went through the painful process of saying goodbye to a church community I’d been part of for 13 years. Getting free of toxic religion. I made the big decision to sell my flat, and pay off all of my debts, becoming free from the burden of debt. I remember going into the bank to pay off all my loans, overdrafts and credit cards, with the teller. They realised what I was doing. And once we’d made all the payments, both she and I were both overcome with emotion.

This is what freedom brings. At the very moment you let something go, when the weight is lifted, when something no longer has power over you….then you realise just how heavy it was. You realise captivity is over.

My past, the debt and toxic religion were the burdens I expected to be free of in 2018.

But of course, there was more.

I became free of the control of my emotions. No longer did my low moods control me, I learned to step away, and manage my reaction to emotions and mental health triggers. I began to get free of the chains of purity culture, which had caused so much psychological damage.

But the biggest surprise came in the last week of the year. I hired a life coach, and the topic of losing weight, being free from addiction to sweets, chocolate and sugary drinks, came up in our first session.

So this past week, I’ve begun taking the first steps to freedom from addiction to overeating, eating too much sugar. This will go into the new year. And it’s inspired me to look at other addictions in my life, to my inner addict – and, quite frankly, tell them where to go.

I won’t be a slave anymore. I will no longer be defined by the habits, debts, mistakes and stories which held me in chains for so long.

This year, a version of myself has been put to death. Right now, I’m in the last stages of this death. And after death, as always, comes rebirth. New beginnings. New stories. A new version of myself.

Which brings me to my one word for 2019.


This is a process, we see, again, in Doctor Who, where you go through a form of death. A version of you dies, and a new version is born. Same memories, values, knowledge, experience….but a new you. With a new costume. New interests. New habits. New quirks. New perspective. New likes and dislikes.

You are still the same person. But you have fundamentally changed forever.

And I’m still at the beginning of this new ‘regeneration’. So I’m still finding out who this person is. Who this version of me is. What I’m like. What I do. What I’m curious about. Even, to a degree, what I wear.

This regeneration is going to let go of who I’ve been in the past. My inner addict. The bad habits which controlled me for so long, both eating and otherwise. I’m going to let go of the need to please others, and the need for others validation. I’m going to be me, whoever that is.

My intentions for this year, are to discover who I really am, who this new regeneration is and what I look like. To reclaim power over my health, my habits, and my life choices. And finally, to start writing again. To embrace the gift which I’ve always had, which always stays with me, no matter how many times I leave it behind. Writing, a true and loyal friend throughout my life.

I’m both nervous, afraid and excited all at once. I’m sure the word ‘regeneration’ will take on new and even more profound meaning for me over the next year.

For the first time in a long time, I feel genuinely free. I feel my past doesn’t have to be my future. The trauma I went through no longer defines me. It is part of my story, it is part of who I am, and I will carry the scars with me forever. But for the first time, I am not my wounds. I am not my past.

Now it is time for a new song. A new chapter in my story. One, as yet unknown and undefined. But I’m sure looking forward to the ride.

As someone once said, this song is ending. But the story never ends.

Bring on 2019. I’m not ready. But who needs to be ready? I’m in anyway.


Picture Sources: Cultbox / Mourgefile

Share this post:


  1. Jo Leatherland on January 9, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Regeneration is such a great choice of word for the year. Thanks for this blog post, your story resonates with mine and is helping me become brave enough to tell my own.

  2. Janet on March 13, 2020 at 3:46 am

    Thank you for your voice, James! What I’ve learned in this world? God is so much bigger than our definitions of Him. Thank you for your love and your words here!

  3. Dawn on March 22, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    How exciting! I know this was some time ago and I wonder how my response finds you now? How was regeneration? Of course, having begun my own healing journey in 2015, I know that it is an ongoing process and one never “arrives” – as you say, looking back, one can see how far one has come and freedoms achieved, by grace, along the way.

Leave a Comment