Just over one month ago I hit rock bottom. I woke up on a Tuesday morning feeling as though my whole life had crashed around me. My relationship was on the brink of being over, because my fear of loss, insecurity and overthinking wasn’t allowing it to work. I feared my business that I had quit my job 7 months earlier was never going to be truly successful. I was overwhelmed with the stress of everyday life and all of the commitments & responsibilities I had. I felt alone, although surrounded by friends & support, I didn’t feel worthy of anyones time or company.
Why am I telling you this on a travel blog? Because just like traveling is a journey, I went on a journey of healing. And I was lucky enough to jump on a one way flight to Bali, one of the most healing places in the world, that afternoon.
You could say its cliche, like I have been living my own version of Eat, Pray, Love because that’s what dreams are made of. That escaping the reality of every day life and jumping on a plane to another country is just a momentary feeling of being healed. But I don’t care, it was the best decision I ever made and the most rewarding journey of any I’ve ever been on.
I booked my flight at midday and had just a few hours to pack, sort out my “adulting” life and drink as much wine as possible before my flight. Substance abuse had become my life; drugs & alcohol were the only thing that would really take away the overthinking and shitty feelings (momentarily) and briefly make me feel alive. Sitting on that plane drunk & high was one of the scariest moments of my life. I’ve traveled the world alone for years, but it wasn’t the traveling alone part I was afraid of. It was the being alone in another country, with only myself, my dark thoughts and with no support network that scared the shit out of me. I continued to drink on the plane and I was absolutely wasted when I landed. I ensured I found a cruisy driver that would allow me to drink & smoke in the car to take me to my accommodation.
I bought Bintangs in the airport store and together we skulled them on the way to my hotel. We chain smoked and he played me some weird Balinese techno music. We stopped and I bought more beer, him more cigarettes, I gave other drivers bottles of beer if they even said hello.
On the Wednesday morning I woke up hungover as hell, alone and lost. But I felt a little more content. I honestly thought this trip meant I could have simply have some time out to rest, get massages, write in my journal, go on some adventures and after a week or two I would be healed. The rollercoaster ride I went on the month that followed was beyond my wildest expectations. I’d never really understood the term “soul searching” but thats how I labelled my first few weeks. I didn’t realise that taking that leap would mean the most pain & heartbreak of my life, the most down days I’ve ever experienced and that I had to face 28 years of demons, memories and life long issues. Here is my story of my journey to healing in Bali and why I’m so grateful I was able to come to this magical land to “find myself.”
The first few days were spent in a bit of blur of “what the fuck am I doing?” Bali is one of the cheapest places in the world, but I had barely any money. Quitting my job and starting a business had already set me back in huge debt, but you can’t put a price on your mental health, so I swiped that credit card like I was in abundance of wealth. I holed up in a cheap hotel in Legian where I read, wrote, ate, drank and got massages twice daily. I had no idea how long I would stay, where I would go, what I would do. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan. It wasn’t long before the universe catapulted my into where I was supposed to be going, fast.
On my third day in Bali I saw a healer. He was recommended by a friend and came to meet me at my hotel In Legian. I literally had no idea what to expect. From what they do, how they perform their healing, what they look like, no idea. Joko arrived at my hotel, he is in his thirties, but doesn’t look a day over 20. He was light and peaceful and we started by him asking me what my issues were, where my pain was. I explained to him it was mostly mental, but due to that my body was suffering immensely. I felt pain from head to toe, sick, tired, weak.
Its hard to explain in words the process of a healing session. But he removed a lot of pain from my body with his techniques. First he asked me to get in a state of meditation and continue breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, heavily. Basically he worked with pressure points in my body, massaging them, pushing on them, releasing the toxins/bad energy, he would then force it out of my body into his hands and throw it out the door to my room. Like, literally open up the door, throw out the bad energy and close the door behind him. He repeated this process over majority of my body. I felt lighter and I felt like I was in more of a meditative state than I had been my whole life. I had a lot of realisations during that session, whether that was spiritually connected to him and what he was doing or whether I was connected more to this due to the meditation. I don’t know. I wouldn’t say it was a life changing experience, however it was all part of my healing journey and a vital step in that.
It’s not like I did a raw vegan month long detox from all of life’s pleasures, I did a week of my own version of the word. But I’ve been drinking almost every day of my life for.. as long as I can remember. So detoxing while in Bali, with my love for Bintangs was a notable achievement. The healer told me I needed to detox and so I headed up to Ubud, the healthiest city in Indonesia to take on the task. Ubud actually makes it quite easy to eat healthy and not drink alcohol. There are healthy cafes and restaurants everywhere; Vegan, Vegetarian, organic foods and drinks all on offer and for a fraction of the price you’d get in Australia. Plus the bars where you are likely to want to get rowdy are in one area so you don’t need to venture that way. So I cut out sugar, coffee & alcohol completely, eating majority organic or Indonesian dishes and drinking tea & juices. Funnily enough the healer told me not to worry about stopping smoking. So I guess you could say the cigarettes got me through!
Over that week I ate everything; meat, veggies, soup, chicken, pancakes, burgers, cakes, ice creams. You name it, I ate it. I definitely can’t say that I lost any weight in this detox process, I’m sure I actually gained a couple kilos! Instead of having an afternoon Bintang on the beach I would head to a cafe and get a (non-dairy) smoothie and huge selection of food and repeat that multiple times throughout the day & night. To be honest I didn’t notice a massive difference in how my body felt, but my head was clearer than ever without alcohol interfering or giving me hangovers. It was probably the smoothest part of the whole month, tricking me into believing I could already be healed. I had no idea what was in store..
The most helpful tool in the beginning of my trip and what really propelled me into digging deep and changing my ways was a book my sister gave me for Christmas. While I had always intended to read it one day I hadn’t thought about reading it anytime soon. However, that book ended up in my suitcase and even survived the cull when my suitcase weighed 3 kilos over the flight limit and I had to leave almost every possession behind. This book is “The Universe has your back” by Gabrielle Bernstein. I’m obviously not going to tell you everything about this book and this is not some sort of book review website. But this book, at this exact moment in time was the best thing that could have started me on this path. I’m aware that having this book at this exact moment was guided there by the universe. And the contents of this book made the whole journey here make sense.
Bali literally has it all. If you haven’t been, you should and if you do come you should explore as much as you can in as many places as you can!
My first day of really getting out & about I hired a scooter from my homestay in Ubud and headed East to some beaches. There is something about being on the insane Bali roads on a scooter, getting lost with only a rough destination in mind. And boy did I get lost! So many times. I didn’t mind though, it was all part of the experience. Weaving in & out of traffic, stopping for pictures & food in little villages or roadside stops. I eventually made it to the first beach; White Sandy Beach (aptly named.) It was a beautiful beach down some steep rocky rainforest, not far from Padang Bai (where you get boats across to the Gili Islands.) It was a beautiful beach, but about 15 minutes into my tan time it started to pour rain. I then went onto Blue Lagoon Beach which was a stunning little cove. Unfortunately it poured rain no long after I arrived there too, but I had an iced tea (literally a cold glass of water with a tea bag in it) and watched over the beach.
While some of my friends were here in Bali we all went on a quad biking adventure in the countryside near Ubud. It was INCREDIBLE. There were 8 of us so our group was private with 2 tour guides to lead & trail behind us. Of course any activity you do in Asia is more extreme than western countries so it was pretty wild! For 2 hours we rode through rice fields, up and down mountains, villages, through rivers where the water reached my knees, up rocky inclines, down steep descents. It was muddy, wet and so much fun!
A few weeks after arriving in Bali I decided to see a psychic. I wanted some answers beyond what my mind was capable of answering so I sought out an appointment for a tarot reading. The way the psychic came about was in an interesting way. I Googled “Tarot Reading Seminyak” and found a cafe that people in forums claimed offers readings to customers. I sent them a message and they gave me the phone number of a psychic named Annika. I text who I thought was Annika and received a reply from Lisa who said she could meet me a few days later. I had no idea who she was or why she was replying from Annika’s number but agreed anyway.
She arrived at my hotel, I was extremely nervous, but I felt at ease as soon as she was in my presence. She asked how I got her number and it turns out the cafe gave me her number all along, but thought they were giving me Annika’s. We sat down across from each other and she read my cards. I won’t go into too many details as a lot of people aren’t believers of this, but I can say it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and the key part to this whole process. This was really the beginning of my transformation, the real transformation.
I went in with 3 major questions which were; Am I supposed to be in Bali, will my business be successful and will I be at peace in my relationship. Lisa read my cards, spoke to my spirit angels and even tapped into my partners spirit and spoke to him. When she relayed the answers he was giving her it was as if he was sitting in front of me speaking. It was the craziest shit ever.
Throughout the reading she asked a lot of questions, I asked questions, we spoke openly about our lives and she read what she was picking up. It turns out our stories were more similar than we could have imagined. Lisa’s father left when she was 2, mine when I was 18 months old. Her Mum was an addict, to more things than one, the exact same as my Mum. Her relationships throughout her life were almost the same as mine. I knew I was always supposed to meet with her rather than the other psychic, the universe brought us together. Apart from all of the answers I received that day, another important part that happened was she told me about a meeting called ‘Al-Anon’ which is for the family members of alcoholics, which happened to have its weekly meeting the next day, literally 200m from my hotel.
When I saw Lisa I didn’t even know if my relationship still stood and I was barely communicating with my partner at the time and when we did communicate it wasn’t pleasant. After the reading, I went for dinner with a friend and was trying to process everything that had happened before I contacted him to tell him about the experience. And to my surprise I got a text where he explained, for some reason, he was content and he didn’t know why. When I explained the reading and how the psychic had spoken to him he knew thats what had happened and the reason he felt that way. It was as if there was an instant relief and the invisible wall between us had been knocked down. It was such a surreal and incredible experience and there were some goosebumps moments with everything said and the outcomes of the spiritual connections.
I saw Lisa again a week after my reading. This time I wasn’t a customer but she reached out in a time I was in serious need. I went to her villa and we talked. I mostly talked about how fucked everything had become and she listened and offered advice. She also did a quick card reading which provided me more insight into what I needed to do to move forward. Hearing her stories is like listening to myself talking about my life, just a few years down the track. She said so many valuable things that day and during the first reading, but one thing that stuck out was how lucky I was to be on this journey now at 28 years old, rather than when I was 45. At this point in time I was in the darkest thought process I’d ever experienced so it was hard for me to grasp the positives. I guess there is a positive in everything and eventually I agreed it was good that I was facing this now rather than years down the track. She was excited about my rock bottom, which I couldn’t see at the time, but knew later was an absolute blessing.
I went to the meeting the following day. Completely terrified, but willing to try. For privacy reasons for the group I can’t disclose what happened/happens at the meeting, but I can say it was as though every person was talking about me and my life when they shared their stories and the way it affected their lives as adults. It was very confronting, overwhelming and emotional, but at the same time I felt for once that I wasn’t alone. I went again the following week before leaving Bali. Again, I didn’t share, but I listened and I heard more of what sounded like people talking about my life and my personality traits. And more importantly I was more open to hearing about the steps each of these people take to change the “old” thought process now that I had actually admitted my faults instead of feeling like the victim as I had the week before.
On the third week into my trip when I was feeling like a new person the universe hit me with a massive detour, pain and heartbreak. My boyfriend and I split up, but not before going back & forth with yes & no, on & off, love & hate, decisions & being undecided. On top of that my friends visited and I completely put aside all of my healing, I stopped writing, reading, relaxing. I was busy, I partied, I surrounded myself with people to forget about reality. I felt so defeated I made it my mission to get completely wasted, more than once.
The first night I went out with some friends in Seminyak and drank cocktails and tequila shots all night long, money no object. On my third Tequila shot at the bar I actually projectile vomited right at my table, mostly next to me on the ground, but also over my dress and into the pond next to the table. It was disgusting, but I didn’t care. I continued to drink shots throughout the night, rode my scooter completely wasted with no helmet on, danced and had a great night. Until the next day of course. This day felt exactly like my rock bottom two weeks before, almost worse. I felt so cheated by the universe, so defeated for this happening when I was trying so hard to heal.
I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just catch a break. Here I am, admitting I needed to heal, took the leap to come to Bali to work on myself and the universe just fucks me? Poor me, why is this happening to me? It wasn’t until I went through another & another & another rock bottom that I appreciated this. Otherwise I never would have really faced my issues head on. I would have reverted back to blaming something or someone else, being the victim or just drinking my way through forgetting about it.
The second night out was the night my best friend arrived where we pulled an all nighter, hitting different bars & clubs and ended with drinking on the beach until sunrise. I had an incredible night, but the next day was a blur of exhaustion and just getting through the day to be able to sleep again that night.
And the last night was the worst when I was completely, openly self sabotaging. I had yet another phone call that ended in tears and a break up and I didn’t want to feel feelings anymore. I put my phone away and poured myself one after the other half-vodka-half-juice mixes and downed them in record breaking speed. Then it was a whole bottle of rum chased with Dexies & Sudafed plus an attempt to score something harder. Luckily my friends put a stop to that one before I ended up in a Balinese prison. I went out and drank and danced and cried. I’ve never been a drunk cryer, always on a high, but this time was different. And it was awful. I’d worried all my friends, I was ashamed of trying to buy bags of drugs from dealers in Indonesia, I felt like shit. I was lucky my friends were around to stop me from really doing something stupid or ending up dead or in jail.
After a week of this sort of behaviour and when my friends had all left I was lower than my rock bottom 3 weeks earlier. My thoughts were the darkest I’d ever encountered and didn’t even imagine possible for my mind. I thought about suicide, I thought about how I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. I was lost, alone, feeling sorry for myself, confused, angry and exhausted. I didn’t want to be in Bali anymore, I didn’t really want to be anywhere, but I felt I’d made the wrong decision by staying here and not flying home with my friends. I cried for hour upon hour. Until I realised.. I was supposed to still be here. I was supposed to be hitting this rock bottom again. I was supposed to be truly alone. Because this is where I really, truly, 100% committed to making a change. To really facing my demons, my faulty programmed way of thinking, my childhood, my insecure and abandonment issues, the lot.
The realisations were huge. And when they hit, they really, really hit. Like it was the most obvious thing staring me in the face for so long I must have been blind not to see them.
I realised after 3 weeks that it wasn’t my whole life that was crumbling around me and bad things were happening everywhere I turned. In fact, everything in my life was almost perfect. I had created a successful business that was bringing income faster than most new businesses. I had created a career where I can work location free, wherever I want, whenever I want. I had a group of incredible friends and a support network most people would kill to have. I lived in a paradise that I loved where new adventures awaited every day. I travelled the world for years experiencing different cultures and immense joy.
The only thing that was fucked and always had been the fucked thing in my life was my relationships with the men I loved. And for every one of those men I blamed them or the situation we were in for the faults and issues, for me being insecure & needy, I found an excuse or blamed something for every single failed relationship, and I’d had a few. It’s easier that way, less painful. It’s so much easier to blame the world or blame someone else because the feeling of failure is nasty. This time though I’d finally realised it was me. Facing that and admitting that is probably the most painful and darkest part of this journey. You realise the cause of your life problems, but how the fuck do you fix it? How do you recreate your thought process, personality traits and ways of life after so many years of living like that? How do you change the way you react and deal with a situation to a completely new reaction? Throughout the whole process, while realising this I was in pain, I was wounded. But some days I had relief.. the days I reverted back to blaming everything else and not admitting it was me. The days I went back to the thought process that my partner was the reason, him being away all the time was the reason. Whatever fucking reason I could come up with.
What I did realise though was that those days of relief were a false sense of security because they’re short lived. I’d already taken the leap, the leap into renewing myself and wanting freedom as the end of the road. I knew deep down so I could only deny it to myself for so long.
As you can imagine yo-yoing between these thought processes and feelings for 3 weeks completely ruined my relationship. And then when my relationship was well & truly ruined I wanted to blame the universe, I wanted to feel sorry for myself. Why is this happening to me? Why has the universe thrown me into my darkest hour AND taken away the man that I love? You can imagine how hard I felt the slap when I figured it out and realised all of that. But it wasn’t all pain. Sometimes I felt extreme relief and overwhelming joy. Other times I cried and cried until my face wasn’t my own anymore.
I wish I could tell you all that I’m healed and that I’ve fixed all my faults and can take on this life of freedom & peace with no hiccups. But that would be a lie. I am optimistic about the future and the outcome, but its still going to take some time. There is only one way from here and thats UP. And I am excited that I’ve realised the areas of my life I need to fix.. An opportunity most people don’t get in their lifetime! I’ve spent the last few days in Cairns resting before I pack my house up and head over to Bali again to continue on this path. I have a new relationship with my partner and we’re back to planning to travel the world together! But not before I have another month in Bali focusing on myself.
I am forever grateful for my rock bottom, for the universe leading me here and for every experience that has been part of this. From the book to the psychic, the meetings, the healer, the counsellor, the self sabotage, my notebook that is full to the brim of words & thoughts, the Balinese people, my incredible friends who visited and the friends and family who were a message or phone call away. Mostly though I am grateful for this incredible island, Bali, everything it has on offer and the peace it brings the minute I set foot outside the airport.
Spiritual Guidance by Lisa Maree
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Gabrielle Bernstein’s book “The universe has your back”
My Blog on self driving Ubud to Bali Beaches