Travel, Can You Heal My Broken Heart?
Most of the time, I use my little corner of the interwebs to write about beautiful places, to whip up some travel guides to help others enjoy them too and to sprinkle a little wanderlust on those who need it most. I've never really written about why I started my trip round the world - or this blog - in the first place. Well, except for a little bit here. Mostly because I haven't wanted to risk feeling overexposed. And partly because I wasn't really ready to tackle all the emotions that would come with writing such an intimate post.
But enough time has passed (thank god for time, hey?) and the same question keeps popping into my head: Has all this travel really healed me? Have my jetsetting, countless adventures and beautifully curated Instagram feed brought me to that place of inner peace I was so desperately longing for when I left? I try to shoo it away but it follows me everywhere.
And I keep giving it the same response: Ugh. I don't know. Stop asking! Sure, some days are brilliant. But some days still suck. Some days I think I would have been happier with my Plan A. Others, I feel I'm destined for this blissful life on the road. And most of the time, I find that the same thoughts, fears and worries that plagued me in my more routine life still surface despite all the glamour of travel.
But let me rewind a little bit here. And give you a sped up, summed up rendition of what started this epic journey in the first place. Almost exactly a year ago, my happy little London life was flipped on its head. One minute I was buying a home with my favourite person on the planet, my boyfriend and best friend of many years. The next - in what felt like the blink of a eye - my world unraveled as I split with not one but two loves: said boyfriend and the best stepson a girl could ask for. I was heartbroken - and truly at a loss for what to do with a life I now no longer understood.
Then, one Saturday morning, shortly after the breakup, my beloved friend Travel showed up and whispered sweet nothings in my ear, " I can fix everything. I can make this all better." Fast forward just a few short weeks later and I was living in a temporary AirBnB, resigning from a cushy job in digital marketing, starting a travel blog and booking flights across the world.
Practically, and to all of the outside world, I was signing up to this grand adventure to fulfil a lifelong dream of taking a travel sabbatical for an epic trip around the world. Which, in fact, is still very much the truth. But deep down, I think I was also counting on travel to fix everything. Because who needs a traditional life anyway, when you're about to make millions as a successful travel blogger AND meet the man of my dreams whilst surfing off a remote island in the South Pacific? So long, suckers!
But here's the spoiler: none of that's actually happened. I haven't even made it to the South Pacific. Shocking, right?
So this has all led right to this very moment, where I'm curled up in my one-piece swimsuit (yes, because all of my clothes need washing) on a bed in Bangkok, putting finger to keyboard. And, admittedly somehow feeling rather annoyed that Travel failed to live up to her promise to fully heal my heartbreak and design my own happily ever after.
I know what you'd rather hear. I almost wish I could say it too. You know, tout the old "Eat Pray Love" model of travel and heartbreak. "One year on the road and you'll be 100% healed of your pain and suffering! We'll even throw in the man of your dreams at the end for FREE. Or your money back." Because who doesn't want that single cure-all to a problem pretty much everyone on the planet can relate to in some shape or form. Trust me, I've bonded with women all over the world over, swapping stories about heartbreak.
But come on y'all. We know better. Much like those fad diets that never work, Travel hasn't really been a complete antidote for all my pain and confusion.
Now, don't get me wrong. There have been loads of great developments. Progress you might even call it. And Travel's offered up a lot of unforgettable moments that have made my decision to go on this journey more than worthwhile.
She's cleared my mind - what with all that unlimited time and space to think. She's distracted me with our beautiful planet when I've needed it most. She's made me cry tears of joy: standing over mountains, swimming in oceans and looking up at the stars. She's put my problems in perspective and made me appreciate my little life and its countless riches. She's introduced me to great friends, as well as a few good-looking gentlemen that have reminded me that I do, despite my doubts, in fact still "got it."
But with all that free time she's also forced me to sit (probably one too many times for my liking) with just about everything. Because there's just no escaping your dark thoughts when you're stuck on a 12-hour overnight bus in Bolivia headed straight into the desert. And so I've spent too-many-to-count sleepless nights unsuccessfully trying to get to the bottom of it all. When and where did it all go wrong? What could I have done differently? Is there still any hope for my love life? And what the hell am I going to do when this trip is all said and done and I land back in London?
I guess what I'm trying to say (in a rather longwinded way) is this: though Travel's offered up some great assistance now and again, it's me who's had to put in the emotional work. The unsettled nights missing two of my greatest loves, begging time to make it easier. The frustration at the same old fears that keep rearing their ugly heads despite doing my best to discard them every step of the way. Sadly, no mountain view or midnight swim can indefinitely erase such things, even if they can do a good job of shutting them out every now and again and reminding you to live in the present.
But for me, this ultimately feels little different to having to tackle all my pesky problems back home. It's just that the distractions are much better. No work deadlines to keep you from wallowing. Just beers on the beach and walks in mountain-fresh air instead.
So, when all is said it done, does travel really heal heartbreak?
No, it doesn't. You heal your heartbreak, but only if you're willing to endure the emotional challenge of getting there. But whether that's on a remote island in Indonesia or on your morning commute to work, it probably doesn't really matter. You'll still have to tackle the same hard truths and answer the same hard questions. If anything, it's almost harder when you're stuck in quiet travel moments with absolutely nothing to distract you. And there's just no sugarcoating it, the journey's a b*tch.
But wait, don't go, there's still some good news! This is Yari under The Beauty Backpacker pseudonym, after all.
Because once you've put in all that time and energy to heal in a healthy way - be it at home or abroad - you'll feel empowered, more in control of your own life (and emotions) and like you're becoming the best version of yourself. And, I'm about to go reeeeeaaaal deep here but you might even find that anchor you've been looking for all along. Not from your partner or from your next beautiful destination, but within you.
You'll still have good days and bad days of course. That's called Life. But you'll know when you've got to a really good place. Because you'll finally have the guts to sit down and write your most vulnerable of vulnerable posts.
And by all means, still choose Travel as your loyal companion somewhere along the way. At a point that feels right for you. You'll have some spectacular adventures and make even more spectacular memories. And, at the very least, you'll be the most interesting person at the next dinner party you're invited to upon your return.
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