Healing through travel is not a new concept. In Cheryl Strayed’s incredible book “Wild” (and the Reese Witherspoon film of the same name) you can see the journey she goes through and the way in which this journey helps re-mould and heal her. She uses travel to tackle her demons and ultimately wins the right to be happy again. She goes through unimaginable fear and change in order to undergo a transformation.
When the floor and centre to your entire world falls from beneath your feet it’s like Alice looking down the rabbit hole. You just keep falling and falling and falling and falling and falling and no amount of struggle can stop you until you are so far down that no amount of hope or light can find you. And that’s when you know change is needed. That’s when someone who fears change would choose it over the shattered remnants of her ordered world.
And this is part of the reason I decided to go along with an idea that landed me in Cambodia, a country with 3 very solid reasons why it makes absolutely no sense for me to be here.
The country is hot, and not that lovely warm embrace kind of hot, but a sticky, sweaty, uncomfortable and relentless kind of heat. I don’t do heat. I’m much happier in the cold or the snow or any weather besides what Cambodia has to offer. It is also a country that harbours snakes, lots of them and some of the really scary species. As an ophidiophobic I am naturally terrified of them all but I know enough to concede that some of the snakes here could potentially kill me. In fact more amputations occur in Cambodia due to snake bites than any other cause. And finally, although my diet variety has improved vastly since this trip I still can’t stand Asian cuisine. I don’t even like rice or spice or anything normal people tend to enjoy from a local takeaway. In short, I should not be here.
When i was younger i would often think about what animal I would be. 9 times out of 10 I would decide that I would be a prey species. This is because I’m cautious, flighty and fearful. I constantly think worse case scenario, am a terrible worrier and always on the alert for new danger. I like my safety zones and hate leaving them. However fear has ruled my life for the past three years creating paranoia amongst many other hideous attributes. And it was time for this to stop. And what better place to do this than a country full of my biggest fears.
I’m not finding it easy being in Cambodia. I imagine stepping on a snake around every corner and the less said about how often Pete has to convince me that the gecko on the wall or the pipe in the corner or the movement of the fan in the night time is NOT a snake, the better! The poor guy has been an absolute rock in this country (and every other one to be fair).
But there comes a point when you have to look all these fears in the eye and tell them to fuck off! And not just your immediate fears but the ones you create in your head or the ones that have been carried to every country with you. I don’t know if i will ever feel truly “healed.” I was once told to achieve this I am simply going to have to learn to live with heartache. And I ask you, how is ANYONE supposed to do that?! But maybe if I can live and work and explore a country which holds so many fears and differences and change then maybe I will be able to come away from this whole experience with a better understanding of what I am capable of. As a much missed friend always tells me, I am braver than I believe, stronger than I feel and smarter than I think.