PTSD and travelling

PTSD and travelling

When my emotional abusive friends abandoned me in 2013, I suddenly had big plans which I was also able to accomplish. I had appointments at school, to start again in 2014 (earned 2 diplomas by 2017) and I also planned a 4-day solo trip to London. Though I felt abandoned, it happened to be a blessing in disguise. If they had not done so, because they could not use me anymore. I would not have been able to become as independent as was possible for me. Even only for a little while, because later I was isolated again. I will write about that another time. Today I want to write about how these trips help me feel independent and free. Since 2014, I visited London (twice), Birmingham, Dusseldorf, 2 WWII camps, and new cities. Travelling alone means there is no one to ruin anything and make you feel guilty because they are chronically unhappy. Travelling alone means there is no one but me, myself and God to rely on. For some people with PTSD this is extremely difficult, for others (like me) it’s extremely helpful.

Part of my PTSD is that I never learnt to make my own decisions, so I relied on others to make most of them for me as I also never learnt to rely on myself. Unfortunately, due to my trauma, I gravitated mostly towards narcissists and people with narcissistic tendencies to rely on. Subconsciously that’s all I knew growing up. With them, making my own decision meant put-downs, resentment and silent treatments. None of their efforts to help me and guide me were in my best interest and only isolated me. Even at home, I couldn’t enjoy hobbies or go out on my own. I always felt I had to ask them to come along or let them know that I was, or they would get angry. And they did indeed, when I didn’t.

What all these people have in common is that they played out my internal messages. For one, they really only saw me as someone they could use. And two, they made me feel exactly how my mother made me feel growing up. Even without any of them, my mother still tells me what I can and cannot do. This includes controlling my holidays if I even managed to allow myself to go on one.

So, what changed?

I am finally able to grow up and become the adult that my age says I am. I am learning that it is okay to make my own decisions and that other people’s choices do not define mine. I am allowed to stick with my decisions, even when other people don’t like them. This is something I have been working on for a few months now.

Since 2014, these solo trips make me feel more independent because there is no one to decide anything for me. There is no one who gets angry with me when I am triggered and there is no one to dump their negativity on me. This year will be a year where I break through comfort zones and I’m staying in London for 10 days. I’m meeting my friend and I am also meeting new friends. I invested in a tattoo design with a tattoo artist I met online, which is way out of my comfort zone to do. I am staying in a hostel for the second time and this time it’s a bigger dorm. I am travelling by train because I have already had the aeroplane and the Ferry. A few days before and a week after, I have taken some time off to rest. Except for my day trips, everything has been planned already. The day I get my tattoo is also a day I need to take it easy and rest a lot. Getting a tattoo, meeting a new friend and being on holiday is a lot to cope with in one day. I am looking forward to it though! Fortunately, I love nature and there are loads of parks to take breaks in every day. I haven’t seen the museaums yet, because I never stayed long enough. I will probably visit most of them and do “a borough a day”, just to not make it too hard on myself.

Thanks to all my hard work on recovery and healing from my traumas, I am able to allow myself to go on a holiday that I want. That I love. That I will truly enjoy. Because I made all the decisions and with a few mishaps where I wanted to let my mother control me again, I managed to book a 10 day holiday with all the plans I had. And even a little bit more. Here’s to getting my sense of independence back. This trip is a big step in my healing journey.

Love & Light, Sandra

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