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Where my story first began…

Where my story first began…
 

I thought it was about time that I shared my story with you…the reason I decided to get on that plane to Asia and travel solo for three months.  It’s been difficult to write and tears were shed as I did it but I hope you’ll appreciate the words…

I didn’t realise travelling was a dream of mine until a friend talked about her impending round the world travels with her boyfriend in January 2009.  She was due to rent her house out for a year and travel SE Asia and Australia (though, it never actually happened due to the recession) and the more she talked about it the more jealous I was becoming, ‘I wish I could do that’.  ‘I can’t afford it’.  ‘I’m with my boyfriend’.  She wanted to travel the world with her partner and I wanted to travel without mine.

‘A’ and I had been together for 4.5 years at this point though in all honesty I think my head and heart had left the relationship a couple of years before.  I broke his heart when I told him I no longer loved him but I think I started to mend mine.

In February 2009, so caught up in the round the world chats with my friend, I bought a SE Asia guidebook (hiding it under the bed so my ex wouldn’t find it) and told myself that, despite being with him, I was going to backpack solo whether we were still together or not.

April 2009 came around and I finally gained the courage to end the relationship that had saved me from myself when I was 18.  I left the home we had spent 3 years making together (we moved into our own place a year into the relationship) and moved back in with my mum; not something either of us particularly wanted but it was a necessity.

In June of that year I had set my departure date of March 15 2010 and eagerly counted down the time as I looked forward to discovering the world and the newly single me.  I decided on the destinations, bought the backpack and studied the guidebooks, amazed at all the opportunities ahead of me.

October came along and I thought I’d found the man I could spend the rest of my life with.  I melted when he looked at me and when we kissed I felt I was floating on air.  I was the happiest I could ever remember feeling (though his communication was sketchy at best) but by the end of December, despite him telling me we had a long future together, one day he simply stopped answering my calls and I never heard from him again.

Six weeks later and just six weeks before I left on the journey of a lifetime, I suffered a miscarriage*.  The combination of losing him and our baby within weeks of each other together with the pre-departure stress broke me.  My heart shattered, I lost my mind and I no longer wanted to travel.

BUT (and you might not agree with this (my family certainly didn’t) but it was my way of coping) I stuck all my grieving in a metaphorical box and found the courage I needed to carry on despite the fact that I was physically and mentally exhausted.

Before I knew it, it was March 15 and I was at the airport.  It had been a long, emotional journey even getting to this point but I knew that if I didn’t get on the plane I would regret it for the rest of my life.  Everything had worked out for me with work agreeing to the time off and me catching all the good weather seasons etc;  I told myself that I had no choice; that the Universe wanted and needed me to go since everything had fallen into place before it all went wrong.  I couldn’t let everyone and more importantly, myself down; I knew I could do it. But there was no obligatory photo in the airport of me with my backpack, no feelings of excitement, just panic and a whole lot of feeling empty.

So I cried through security, threw up in departures then sat in my seat for, what turned out to be, the most life-changing experience I could have ever hoped for.

I may have left home the most broken I could have ever felt but I came back the most healed and happy I could have ever hoped to have been.

*I don’t tell you all this for pity, I tell you because you can’t appreciate how far I’ve come if you don’t know where I came from to begin with.

  1. Roy07-12-11

    Wow! Good for you to open up like this. I know traveling can allow us to rethink our ways and look deep into our hearts of what we really want from our future :) I myself had completely lost it before I started traveling, but it is the glue to the puzzle of life. ;)

  2. Lauren07-12-11

    First of all, men suck!! I cant believe that douche did that to you!! It’s awful :( And I can’t imagine what you went through with the miscarriage hun, so so sad.

    I’m so scared about my trip and I haven’t had to go through anything close to what you have, you must have been soooo scared at the airport!

    Buuut, it shows you that good things do come out of bad things, and you got to discover travel and happiness, which is fabulous! :)

  3. Elle07-13-11

    Relationships freaking suck. I once gave up a job in the UK to be with someone. It was the perfect opportunity and I threw it away for someone that I ended up separating from just weeks later.

    Now that I have decided to embark on my own solo journey, I am trying to avoid getting involved in a relationship at all costs. I am not trying to let another man hold me back from pursuing my dreams.

    I’m sorry that you went through such a difficult time but I truly believe that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

    xo

  4. Julia07-13-11

    Even though I already knew this story, it was still difficult to read. It’s crazy how much your life can change within the space of a few short months, I can totally relate to that xx

  5. Toni07-13-11

    @Roy – thank you! And I LOVE the line ‘travel is the glue to the puzzle of life’ – perfect =)

  6. Toni07-13-11

    @Lauren – Fingers crossed I find a good guy some day =) I really was scared at the airport; I thought the trip ahead was going to cause me to have a breakdown and unfortunately because of everything, I didn’t enjoy my first destination – Japan BUT the rest of my journey? It healed me, well and truly =)

  7. Toni07-13-11

    @Elle – sorry to hear you and the man separated just weeks after you made such a big decision but as you say ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’. We’re very alike – I’m determined not to get involved in another relationship that will stop me living my dreams – go us! Two fabulous ladies =)

  8. Toni07-13-11

    @Julia – it really does amaze me at times how much we can go through as a human and how we react to things etc. Life can change so quickly but I believe (for the both of us) that travel has definitely helped =) x

  9. John D. Wilson07-13-11

    Wow, what a story!
    Kudos to you for having the courage to not let your feelings determine what you were going to do. That says amazing things about your character.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Cheers,
    John D. Wilson

  10. Toni07-13-11

    @John – thank you for your kind comment about my character…I think my strength and determination shocked even myself =) It was a hard story to tell but one I needed to I think.

  11. Toni07-13-11

    @Roy – Thank you; I’m glad I told my story! And I LOVE your line ‘travel is the glue to the puzzle of life’ – well said!

  12. Toni07-13-11

    @Lauren – Yes I was incredibly scared – I thought the trip would tip me over the edge and I have to admit that it deeply affected my ability to enjoy my first stop in Japan but the rest of it was definitely ‘chicken soup for the soul’ as they say =) You’ll do amazing and kick butt by yourself hun =)

  13. Toni07-13-11

    @Elle – Sorry to hear that things ended after just a few weeks…clearly he couldn’t keep cope being with someone so amazing =) I totally agree on not letting a man hold you back too…I put my dreams to the side for far too long!
    It really did make me stronger – after my three months solo, knowing what I had been through, it made me feel invincible =)

  14. Toni07-13-11

    @Julia – it really is amazing how quickly life can change for better or worse but I definitely feel I came out stronger for it and I’m so incredibly glad I got on the plane! x

  15. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures07-13-11

    Wow bravo for sharing something SO deeply personal! You will inspire so many people with this story. I love that traveling healed you.

  16. flip07-14-11

    :-) isnt it nice that sometimes our “gut feels or instinct” tells us what to do and most of the time ends up right :-)

    wishing you all the happiness in the world my friend…

  17. Spinster07-14-11

    Interesting story. Kudos for opening up about it.

  18. Jennifer Nixon (@jenniferbnixon)07-14-11

    This is such a brave post to write… I can imagine there were a few tears along the way. It also takes a lot of bravery to get ont he plane after everything, and definately the best thing you ever did!! Everything is always OK in the end :)!!xxx

  19. Toni07-14-11

    @Andi – thank you! It was really hard to write but I felt it was a story that needed to be told…that despite the nerves and feeling scared, travel really is medicine for the soul =)

  20. Toni07-14-11

    @Flip – I really do think that Universe wanted me to go on this trip and it truly was worth the heartache – I now know that travel is what I want to do for the rest of my life! =) Thank you for the encouragement dear friend =)

  21. Toni07-14-11

    @Spinster – nice to know you appreciated it =)

  22. Toni07-14-11

    @Jennifer – it was really hard to type and I had to stop a few tears but I’m really glad that I finished it. Everything happens for a reason and obviously needed to go travelling to realise that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life =)

  23. Jasmine07-14-11

    What an amazing story. I admire your courage to share this, it’s very inspiring.

  24. Toni07-14-11

    @Jasmine – thank you…inspiring people is one of the reasons I wrote it – so that other people could realise that they need to get on that plane! =)

  25. Roy Marvelous | Cruisesurfingz07-14-11

    Wow, I can’t believe that guy did that! But well done on being strong and hanging in there.

  26. Toni07-15-11

    @Roy – I couldn’t believe he did it either; never got closure on our relationship because of it. Thank you – I’m glad I stayed strong; my travels rewarded me so much for getting on that plane! =)

  27. Sebastian07-16-11

    Wow what a story! And I though that I had bad luck in the past. But it’s nice to read that everything turned out to be good at the end.

    Traveling and time heals every wound!

  28. Toni07-16-11

    @Sebastian – Thank you Sebastian; sorry to hear that you’ve had bad times too but as we both agree; time and travel can heal many wounds =)

  29. Caz Makepeace07-21-11

    “the Universe wanted and needed me to go”
    You can never ignore this! The Universe knows what you need to do and it will always try to steer you on that path. If you ignore disaster will strike.
    Look what happened because you didn’t!! A joyful life was gifted to you.
    Great story Toni and thanks for being brave enough to share it. The world needs that bravery and honesty

  30. Toni07-21-11

    @Caz – thank you for the compliments about having the bravery to share my story. I thought it was important to share; to show people that despite everything, travel touches you in ways you didn’t think possible and gives you so much courage =)

  31. Mia07-26-11

    Wow.. I can’t believe that. Everything happening, then you still have the courage to move on. I’m astounded. Great post, gave me a lot to think about.

  32. Toni07-26-11

    @Mia – Thank you for stopping by Mia and thanks for the compliment. Getting on that plane was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I’m very glad I did =)

  33. Kate10-01-11

    I stumbled upon your blog randomly (thanks Google!) but I have to admit, I’m so glad I did because I read a few of your posts and I really connected with your story and your passion for traveling. Your writing is so beautiful, raw, and honest and that’s something I truly admire.

  34. Dayna12-06-11

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story… and kudos for telling it all in honesty. Not everyone’s travel dreams can start out with rainbows and sunshine, and I’m always proud of the people that can tell it like it is (or was, in this case). Love the heart behind the words!

  35. Toni12-07-11

    Dayne – thank you so much for your kind words. You’re right, not everyone’s travels start out well (and some people don’t necessarily leave for the right reasons) but travel really can help. I like to think I’ll always remain honest on it; people seem to appreciate it much more than omissions of truths.

  36. Kelly Dunning01-31-12

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so glad that traveling helped you to heal from your experiences and find happiness. :)

  37. Toni02-02-12

    Kelly – Travel really is medicine for the soul :)

  38. Becki02-02-12

    Hi Toni- found you on twitter. Just wanted to say how much I love your blog, and think you’re incredibly strong for going out to travel after all you went through. Well done you- absolutely amazing courage. X

  39. May03-26-12

    Wow.. just came across your story. Truly inspirational and I can’t wait to begin my travel adventures! I’m doing SE Asia for the first time this summer :) Can’t wait to hear more of your stories and if you have time, would much appreciate thoughts on my blog as I’m new to it :)

  40. Toni04-10-12

    Nay – thank you for your lovely, kind words :) Ooh you’re heading to SE Asia?! I hope you’ll love it as much as I’m sure you will!

  41. Vegemitevix06-14-12

    Wow that is a powerful story, but in a way I think travelling enabled you to find yourself. I know it certainly did for me over twenty something years ago when I first went backpacking around Asia and Australia after my first relationship breakup. It was a brilliant journey but the best part was in my head!

  42. Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli)08-01-12

    Toni, bravo to you. Not only for making the changes and having the courage to make your life better, but also to write about it and put it out there. Cheers!

  43. Toni08-03-12

    Kristin – Thank you; it was hard to write but I’m so glad I did! :)

  44. Scene Stealer09-13-12

    Hugs to you from my side of the globe. As a fellow solo traveler, your story stirred a part of my past–back when I was forced to crawl out of my sheltered cave to realize the world needs exploring…and I needed healing.

    It has been a long, colorful journey. Now they tell me am a crazy girl on a death wish (aerial shoots on choppers, chasing dolphins in a teeny boat against crushing waves, exploring marshlands for hungry crocs, sort of normal stuff a photojournalist does, not even for money).

    Travel opens up not just your eyes, but your heart. Anything is possible out there, and what you see or experience may or may not heal your soul. But you will definitely come back a stronger, changed (wo)man.

    Hang on for the ride of your life, you are doing just fine.

  45. Toni09-23-12

    Scene Stealer – Thank you so much for your kind words! As hard as it is, I think travelling is a great way of healing the soul! Glad to hear that you’ve now become someone that searches for adrenaline and adventure on you travels…great stuff!
    And you’re right – no matter what happens or the reason why we left in the first place, it will always make us stronger in the end :)

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