Alone & Healing in a Foreign Country: When Tragedy Spurs Growth.

~Written by Kayla~


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I came into the week with the thought of writing about being a vegan traveler or traveling minimalistically, which I will eventually write about, but the past week has contained a whirlwind of emotions and experiences that have led me to the need to write about a more sensitive and unique topic. As some may know, I just returned to the states after backpacking Ireland for the past three weeks. While this was one of the most incredible and adventurous trips I’ve had thus far, it was also the one with the most ups and downs and heartache.

It all unfolded like a surreal movie in my eyes. The way the Universe worked with me to bring me safely to each place, to meet people who will stay in my heart forever, and to bring about mental clarity and space to work solely on one problem and idea as they came was an experience I hope to manifest into a lifetime of wondrousness. The challenges of navigating a foreign country solo for the first time hit me with intense thoughts of frustration and curiosity regarding my strength and my character. It was invigorating, empowering, and draining all at once. Travel can be extremely therapeutic, only if you allow it to be.

Now, this is where some truth comes up that I hope someone, somewhere will gain something from… because writing this is not only therapeutic for my Self but I felt compelled to write about this because it isn’t something commonly talked or written about, from my perspective.

The first two weeks of my time in Ireland filled my heart with love, warmth, and joy, from multiple various sources. In contrast, within the last week of my time in Ireland, two events occurred which both blew my mind and made my heart feel like it was either imploding, melting, or a combination of the two. Shortly after I woke up in my accommodation in Limerick, while I made a quick breakfast of avocado toast and a few oat crackers with coffee and almond milk before my check out time of 10am, I received a message from a dear, yet somewhat distant, friend of mine asking if we could talk. With it being about 3:30am where he is, I knew something wasn’t okay, so I immediately got on FaceTime with him where he proceeded to enlighten me to the fact that he is bisexual (something I would have never guessed to hear). That did put a smile on my face, that he thought of me enough to call me and tell me because we did have a romantic connection at a point in time and we clearly care for each other. But as he went on with his words, the message completely took a turn, as he told me that just prior to calling me, he had been coerced into a sexual situation without consent by an older guy that he met through a dating app. Of course, this breaks my heart and I never want to hear people I love say they had to experience something like that. Though I felt okay with knowing that I was probably the best person he could have turned to just then because I could deeply empathize, share words of wisdom, love, and comfort, and I happened to be the only one naturally awake and free to talk in his exact time of need. Sure, it wasn’t the brightest way to start my day of traveling up to Galway, but some part of me grew from that. It’s like I keep getting these signs to keep on my path towards being a health coach and to stay the way that I am, a friend that people can trust and find solace in. I’m grateful that I can be that support for certain people.

Just days before my flight back to the states, as I awoke in my Dublin hostel bed, I scrolled through the many messages in the group Facebook chat I have with my best girlfriends. I never ever would have believed the first thing I would read would be a message saying a friend from college had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away the night before. Though I wasn’t very close with him, my best friend was considered one of his best friends and he still made a significant impact on me and so many others I knew, so it hit me hard. The inability to know why it happened was also frustrating and confusing for us. Death hasn’t impacted my sphere many times in life, and it was interesting being so far from anyone I was close to that could console me the way I wanted to be consoled. The guy on the bus who threw me a pack of tissues and said, “It isn’t worth it,” didn’t help at all. I only had myself, until a day or so later when I was luckily able to visit that same best friend who happens to be living in Dublin for the summer. We spent my last day in Ireland dedicating our time to Steve, wine, cooking up dank vegan love, the Titanic, and holding space for each other (as well as actually holding each other). It seemed so perfect that the friend that I needed the most could physically be there at the time she needed me to be there for her too.

Times like this snap me back into a sense of extreme mindfulness and gratefulness for my existence and for every experience I have brought onto myself. I am here to live the longest, fullest life that I can possibly live. And if buying a piece of coffee walnut cake and eating it on a bridge overlooking the Liffey River, trying to breathe normally and not let the feelings make me choke was a way of living my fullest life that day I heard the news, that’s fine by me. Everyone heals differently. I took time to relax, to write, to read, to be in nature and embrace the thoughts that flowed through my mind, yet I reflected on the past and how it lead me to where I am, to the ways in which I cope and grow as an individual. Terrible things happen in life and as I’m growing older, I realize that I must look at it like it’s the most magnificent jigsaw puzzle ever created. Some pieces are light and pretty, some are dark, some bland. It’s friggin’ difficult to complete but ultimately at the end, looking back, it’s a beautiful work of art that deserves a lot of pride. You figure it all out. You ride the waves. You keep asking yourself questions and figuring out your Truth.

Being alone while working through difficult and mentally, emotionally draining situations can give you space to get to know your Self. It gives you time to figure out what is the ideal atmosphere, vibe, people, and messages you want to surround yourself within a time of healing. Whether it’s the kind of scenery, food, or music you want to engulf your senses in, words you want to absorb or write down, it’s a good time for learning and empowering yourself, not just feeling down and helpless.

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