I spent a decade with a person who I adored, so when our marriage failed, I was heartbroken and spent nearly 2 months crying my eyes out. Even though I led a very full life, the disappointment had stripped me of my self-esteem when our relationship ended.
Then one day, a friend said “Kat, you don’t have any kids…go travel.” Alone? Where would I go? Sounds fun, but kind of scary.
So, I did. I mustered up the courage and set my plan into motion. I quit my job, sold my house, and threw my lifelong treasures into a storage unit. Then I packed my North Face bag, and bought a ticket to Hawaii to see my family.
While I was packing, a friend dropped off a book for me called “Eat, Pray, Love.” She explained it was a ‘must read’ for a newly divorced woman on an adventure.
On the plane ride to Hawaii, I scanned the back cover and read the first section of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, but I had trouble understanding her story. Why would a woman leave a perfectly good relationship because she was bored? I couldn’t relate, especially since my husband had just dumped me for a 20-something year old girl. It didn’t sit well with me, so I put down the book and threw it back into my bag.
When I got to Hawaii, I spent valuable time with my family. It was the perfect time to reconnect with my loved ones and find myself. Even though I was going through a tough time emotionally, I laughed everyday and enjoyed each moment.
After a couple weeks in Hawaii, I booked the rest of my round the world trip. For $2500, I could travel wherever I wanted, as long as I was moving in one direction. I made New Zealand my first stop, so I could say one last goodbye to my in-laws, then Australia, Bali, Thailand and back to San Francisco.
While I was nervous about being a woman traveling to Southeast Asia, I figured I had nothing else to lose. I already lost my old life, my self-esteem, my X, and my pride. What else could possibly go wrong? I had already lost my life partner, and after the divorce, a part of me and all my expectations had died as well. Now, for first time in my life, I wasn’t afraid of anything.
The trip to NZ, and OZ went well, but when I got to Bali, it took my breath away. The week before, a traveler named Kate, who I had met in Australia, told me to visit the Bali Buddha Cafe in Ubud and then go see a Balinese healer named Wayan. I had never seen a healer but thought it might be a “Balinese experience” that I shouldn’t pass up. I made an appointment with her the next day.
When I sat down with Wayan, she lit incense, raised her hands, chanted softly and scanned my body. She said I was dehydrated, needed calcium, had a sore right knee, and a busy mind. Hmmm…the busy mind definitely rang true. I was then ushered upstairs for a massage treatment. It was fabulous! When I awoke from my relaxed state, she and her daughter washed me with large leaves and muddy brown water, then they cooked a delicious organic meal.
During lunch, Wayan shared a story about a man who had come in to see her because he needed her to fix his limp banana. I found it odd that she was telling me a story about her special healing/borderline sleasy healing techniques, but when I saw the framed picture of a blond Haole woman on her mantel and recognized Elizabeth Gilbert’s face, I put it all together.
After I left Wayan, I rushed back to the bungalow and grabbed the book “Eat Pray, Love”. There was an entire section on Indonesia that I hadn’t seen, and intimate details about Wayan, the healer, “limp banana lady.”
I sat and read the entire book and actually enjoyed it. I realized that, like Liz, I was on my own spiritual journey hoping to rediscover my identity, get my self esteem back, find balance, and inspiration. The book’s main message spoke to me – figure out what makes you happy, pray for guidance and when you make room (emotionally and spiritually), good experiences and good people will enter your life.
During the trip, I spent months alone with my thoughts, analyzed my feelings, and tried to figure out what lessons I had learned along the way and what role I had played in my failed relationship. I wrote in my journal and spent everyday being completely ‘in the moment’.
Finally after 4 months of traveling, my new journey became clear. When I got back to the States, I would create a website called thebreakupguide.com, a place where people come for inspiration; to enrich, empower, and restore their life after a divorce. This site would be my way of sharing my knowledge, my experience and giving back to those suffering through a tough break-up and/or divorce.
Thanks Liz for sharing your wisdom and your journey with us.