There was a time in my life where I was considered to be a quirky, free-spirited, and adventurous girl, but once I became married and had children that girl seemed to slowly fade, and at times I really missed her. I was married for seven years before it fell apart amidst some personal issues and once the dust settled and I was forced to piece myself back together, I realized that not only were some pieces missing, but I had willingly given them away through careless mistakes, taking for granted the life I had, I even ended up with a DUI and stuck in a new low. When a big change happens in our life whether a loss of a relationship, loved one, or job, finding a new normal comes easy; we’re keen at adapting. However, feeling content within that new normal is a different ballgame.
Coming out of my failed marriage was like shedding a version of who I thought I was and then stepping naked into the light, I had a complete identity crisis. I had spent so many years being who I felt my ex-husband and kids needed me to be that I failed to put any importance on who I needed to be for myself, worst of all I had made some serious mistakes in that relationship that felt like they would never leave me. I went overnight from the happy family of five to the single mom who was left using a car breathalyzer just to pick my kids up from school or basketball practice. I thought it was the time I went back to my roots, looked back on experiences in my life that gave me a sense of who I was in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I could find that quirky, free-spirited, adventurous girl and invite her back.
One morning when I woke up feeling lost I remembered the rainy day savings I had. It was piling up at this point and I felt it was time to do something with it. I had always wanted to travel abroad but with how demanding my life was I felt it was something that would not be applicable to me. My old roommate from when I was still single had been living in Thailand and always tried to get me to come visit, but of course, I always declined to say there is no way I could pull it off. I was still in bed and the morning light was barely beginning to peer through the curtains, but I still impulsively purchased a ticket to Thailand for the following July.
When July came and I was dropped off at SFO a weird feeling came over me. “It’s just me for the next few weeks.” The only responsibility I had in that moment was to explore myself. I remember stepping off the plane and being hit with the crushingly humid Thailand air and feeling a sense of contentment I had never felt before. The jet lag was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be and I woke up the next morning feeling alive and ready to take on anything. From Bangkok, we traveled to Koh Samet and took a speedboat to the island where we stayed in Bungalows on the beach, it was fabulous!
This is where it hit me, it was not the fact that I was on vacation, it was not even the fact that I was in an exotic foreign country, it was the fact that I was there for nobody other than myself. The opportunity to get rid of the roles I was playing for everyone else and only focus on myself. I found that quirky, free-spirited, adventurous girl again, and once she came back it was as if she had never left.
To heal, we have to break free from our routine, if only for a little while. You do not necessarily have to take a trip to somewhere as far Thailand for this effect, as I’m sure even if I took a small road trip not far from home I still would have returned feeling the same sense of renewing. Travel does more for us than merely give us new experiences, it helps us to see ourselves in a different light, a part of us that we forgot was there. Just a few weeks had a life-long benefit, and I am truly grateful for the lessons I learned and how it helped me to heal. If there is a way for you to break away, do it. You will not regret it.