I have always had a traveler’s heart and and explorer’s mind. When I was a little girl I was always dreaming about palm trees, oceans and sandy beaches. I would draw pictures and dream of the place where I could smell the ocean and hear the sound of the wind going through palm tree leaves. I remember the early days of the internet enabling me for the first time to browse through images of places I hoped to visit someday. In the digital world we’re living in today you can literally look up anything and even go on a virtual journey without leaving your room, but this can never compare with a real travel experience. How can travel be helpful in your recovery? How can it help you grow?
Traveling opens up new perspectives
No matter where your travel destination, you will get new perspectives on what life has to offer and on what really matters to you. What are your values? What do you find important in life? When I travel, I can see things more clearly and I can look at problems from a different angle. When I stare at the ocean I feel more connected and it reminds me that I am part of the universe, just like everybody else.
Creating a physical distance from your daily life and problems can help you to discover new opportunities and light the fire inside you. You don’t need to go to the other side of the world to have this experience. You can include traveling into your daily life easily. Take a different road to work, explore a nearby city or go to a different coffee bar than usual. It will help you to get out of your head.
Traveling makes you more flexible
When I was living with my eating disorder I went on an exchange program to California, the Golden State. My eating disorder had turned me into an obsessive compulsive person, so everything was planned with precision. Arriving at campus, it appeared there was no one was there to greet me. Being an extreme perfectionist this resulted in a tremendous amount of stress. I had two options. 1: I could freak out completely or 2: Be flexible and make the best out of the situation. I chose option two. I left my suitcases in the hall and took a little walk to explore campus. When I got back, the RA arrived and everything worked out. This shows how easily you can get attached to rigid rules and ideas of how everything should be. The truth is, this will only limit you in your life. Learn to be flexible.
It’s not always easy to be flexible and to be open to go with the flow. When you’re living with an eating disorder dealing with unexpected situations can easily result in a state of distress. Try to open yourself and be willing to adapt to unexpected events and situations. Let go of control. Yes when you travel you may miss flights, lose your suitcase or eat food you don’t like. You will also learn how to deal with those situations and adapt to them, a skill you can use in your daily life. Once you become more flexible, you will be able to see the endless and beautiful possibilities life has to offer you.
It’s a way of self-discovery and personal growth
Being away from home can play a great role in discovering yourself and rebuilding your identity. When you travel you can get a glimpse of a different culture. When I go on a holiday, I am more willing to open myself up to something new. Different places bring different people with different ideas, opinions, values and habits. You can have conversations and exchange opinions and learn how others look at things. All these experiences help you to grow and reflect on both your life and yourself. They can help to make you more conscious of your beliefs, your priorities and who you really are.
Be yourself and live your own life
How often do we find ourselves living up to someone else’s expectations and being totally unhappy? When your self-confidence and self-esteem are at an all time zero, it can be hard to follow your own passions and live according to your own values. I lived like that for many years and it drained all life energy out of me. When I was in recovery from my eating disorder there seemed to be a vast ocean between the person the outside world saw and the person deep down inside. With time, patience and professional guidance I found myself back, a journey in which travel played an important role. Having the confidence to go to a new place and stepping out of your familiar surroundings can strengthen your self-worth. Don’t live a certain life because you feel you have to live up to expectations set by your family, peers or society. It’s your life. Follow your intuition, trust your gut and be who you are. If you compare yourself with other people or with a label set by society, you will always end up being unhappy.
Believe your inner compass. You will find your true North! ~ Miriam
Embrace the journey
Discovering new places or traveling through the unknown, is not just about getting there. It is far more about going there. The same applies to your life and recovery. Each step, each choice,whether good or bad, brings you closer to your inner-self. Like traveling, life consists of experiences. Together these experiences will help you find your destination. The past, including your eating disorder are only life lessons that you put into your travel bag that you carry with you along the way. After years I can now finally see the good in my past. I can see I needed my eating disorder to get me to the place where I am now, and it turned me into the person I am today. It gave me an opportunity to travel around the ‘world’ to find my way back to my heart and my life’s purpose; showing other people that full recovery is possible and that life is worth living.
As for traveling, I can’t wait for my next trip. All those years I traveled before I wanted to escape from the person I was. Last year I went on a holiday and I didn’t feel sad on the day I had to return. I realized that for the first time in many years I finally have a life I don’t want to escape from. You deserve to reach that realization and destination as well. When you recover from your eating disorder you will be free. Listen to your heart, it will lead the way and put you on the right track towards fulfilling your dream.
Do you like to travel? What is your favorite destination? I would love to hear from you.