So, tomorrow is the big day. 24 hours from now I will be touching down in Bangkok to spend the night at the airport before flying on to Ho Chi Minh City at ridiculous-o’clock on Wednesday morning. I’m excited and nervous and terrified and EXCITED. This is big. It’s one of the things I’ve constantly been told that I’ll never be able to do – that I’ll always be too sick to travel, to be alone, to be independent. But I’m going to do it anyway. And it’s going to be amazing.
I’ve got a travel blog to keep friends and family back home up to date with where I’m at and what’s going on, which you can read here. Bring on the next twelve weeks!
I feel as though I am in a very strange place. In five days I will be leaving to travel for three months. Nine months ago, I booked these plane tickets with the intention of disappearing into some unknown hostel somewhere in Europe and killing myself. But so much has happened since then. I’m no longer planning on following through with that – which I’m infinitely grateful for.
This year has been strange – there has been so much death, pain, relapse and darkness. Yet at the same time I feel as though I have grown so much. For the first time to this date, the darkness and light have begun to even one another out – and it’s with this strange realisation that I’ve come to recognise that it’s not just me: the whole world exists in dichotomy. No dark without light. Two opposites, constantly vying with each other to take hold.
Tomorrow marks one year since I was last discharged from hospital (other than emergency, which I’m not counting) – the longest break between admissions since I was fourteen. ‘Between admissions’ isn’t entirely adequate there, because I have no intention of ever being shut in one of those rooms again in my lifetime. A year out of hospital isn’t much of an achievement in the eyes of many people, but for me it’s pretty huge. It’s about independence, manageability and freedom. But somehow I still feel stuck.
I’m hoping that as I travel, somehow layers will strip away. That the scales which are tentatively see-sawing back and forth will find their balance. I’m not sure that I’m ready to get to the depths of what is within me – but I want enough simplicity that I feel more in touch with my values, needs and capacities. The last month has been riddled with re-emerging anxieties: around people, places, food, sleep. Afraid to sleep, but afraid to leave my bedroom. Can’t eat, showering upwards of fifteen times a day, bleeding hands from being washed too often. It feels something like being sixteen again. Nightmares – sleeping and waking, overwhelming everything I attempt to do. Lists upon lists: I get nervous, so I write a list of things that make me happy, a list of things that make me sad, a list of things I want to do, a list of music that calms me, a list of places to go, a list of people I love – and still I feel nervous.
I realise there are textbook reasons for this happening now. I’m about to take a huge step in travelling the world solo. I’m constantly worrying about what I want to do with my life and what I need to do to get there – and freaking out that I can’t just make everything okay, right now. I’m stressed about friends and their circumstances, and that while travelling I won’t be a text or a short walk away. And the single most terrifying thing I’m thinking about at the moment is that I’ve tentatively decided that when I return from overseas I will begin trauma processing. I’m not entirely sure what that process will involve, but I’m certain that it will stretch me to my absolute limits. I haven’t spoken the ‘r’ word aloud for over two years. I can’t write about it without losing time, and I continue to sleep in half hour intervals to avoid dreaming. It will be difficult, that’s for sure.
I feel in between so many extremes, unsure of which way the balance will (should?) tip. Maybe it’s incredibly naive of me, but I’m hoping that I can leave all this. That the moment I step onto that first plane, all of this ‘stuff’ will remain behind. That I can balance holding on, and letting go.
Crazy days. Things are not great. A week from tomorrow I go overseas, which will be interesting.
I’ve been neglecting writing and studying instead. I’ve now finished exams for the year and am almost ready to set off on my adventure, for which I’ve started a new blog here to keep friends and family at home up to date with where I am and what I’m doing. I’m not sure how often I will be updating here, but feel free to check out my travel blog. Here come a crazy three & a half months, unlike anything I’ve done before. I can’t wait.
I’m generally a fairly patient person. I’m not one to get frustrated in traffic or worry about waiting for people, I’m happy to just sit and observe. But lately I have this burning feeling that I want to just be out there, in the world – doing, seeing, learning. I’ve not yet finished my first undergraduate degree and already I just want to get out of university and make a difference. I want to meet all different kinds of children and young people, I want to hear about their lives, I want to feel their experiences. I want to help those who don’t know how to help themselves yet.
I often get incredibly frustrated at how mundane university can be and how pointless it all feels, and I need to remind myself that there is a reason that I’m studying my arse off and constantly pushing myself. All the sleepless nights and anxiety attacks over exams – they will pay off. I just wish it would happen now.
Another thing I am currently preoccupied with is the feeling (the need) – I want to travel the world. I’ve spent some time in South East Asia and have done quite a bit of travel within Australia, but I want to be completely immersed in different cultures. I want to see. Over this summer I will be travelling to Vietnam, Italy, Spain, France, the UK and Northern America. I’ve already started tentatively planning my trip after this one – either to India or Borneo, to work as a volunteer, or to South America to stay in ashrams and work on farms. But there’s so much more I want to see and do – I want to stand in a paddock in the middle of Ireland and feel completely free. I want to sail around the Greek Islands and see the volcanoes in Iceland. I want to sit in the dirt and play with children in Africa.
I feel like the world is just so huge and I am just one person – but I want to see it all. I want to make a difference. There’s a crushing feeling that I can never be everything I want to be. There is so much desire in me, and one person can only do so much.
This quote has been resonating with me a lot lately:
“Listen – I want to run all my life, screaming at the top of my lungs. Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don’t stop to think, don’t interrupt the scream, exhale, release life’s rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let down hair. This is what there is to life”
– Vladimir Nabokov