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.