When Travel doesn’t Heal: The Night I almost Ended my Life.

In All Topics, Featured by Ryan42 Comments

Prologue

Am I even ready to talk about this?

Honestly, I don’t even know I am ready.

Only a literal handful of people know this.

Not even my brother, my only direct blood left, knows this.

And maybe I’ve tried to lock it away like all of the other harsh realities of my life so I don’t have to look at its ugly, disfigured, terrifying face. My own face.

But writing, it turns out, seems to be a way I process my deepest thoughts and reveal my darkest woes. And reading about a fellow travel blogger, dreamer, and human being Anita Mac recently taking her own life released a flood gate of emotions about my own internal struggles.

Struggles I assumed travel would remedy. Aches I thought would be magically healed. Scars on my soul I thought would go away once I left the country. A darkness inside still omnipresent and lurking. Embers of fierce hurt waiting for a stoking wind to kick the searing flames up fiercer than ever.

It was when I was perusing travel blogs that I came upon one of Green Global Travels recent articles; an analysis of the farce that travel is the end-all-be-all-cure-all to life’s problems, and my first discovery that Anita Mac had taken her life.

I felt a sudden pang in my heart.

This dreamer, this adventurer, this traveler, and this inspiration for others had ended her life, and based on her last post on her blog, it seemed as though there was a hole so deep that travel couldn’t fill it. I never knew her, and now I will never be able to, but people who had seem to remember her as being an overwhelmingly optimistic person. A happy person. Someone who was loving life.

And then I read a post on yTravel Blog about travel being escapism, and whether it was okay to use it as an escape. And this just set me off. Not set me off because I disagreed or was offended by the article, but set me off emotionally — calling forth things I was trying to forget.

Calling forth the memory of the night I nearly ended my own life.

I have been biting my nails for nearly two weeks, and I’ve reread this hundreds of times. I even took the past couple weeks off from trying to write this article, deciding whether or not to even reveal this. My average word per minute has probably slowed to .5 words per minute. It is as if I am typing slowly to prevent this inevitable reveal. Not to you, but again to myself.

It is time to look at my ugly self in the mirror and face it.

The night I nearly ended my life was a result of a climax of denial after a year of the outrageous travel highs in New Zealand.

 

Cigarette Burns

My name is Ryan, and I am an alcoholic.

I never EVER in my lifetime expected I would say those words. And sitting there in that room filled with people battling personal demons and manufactured demons, I realized I had become the monster I had always vowed I wouldn’t.

I remember when I was a very young boy attending these AA meetings with my mother. I remember going to them and not understanding why she was there, and why all of those people were there, and why they were standing and speaking like my elementary school show & tell sessions.

I remember rummaging through my mother’s tan purse that smelled like the inside of those orange prescription pill bottles for some candy, and being smacked in the hand by her.

There isn’t any candy for you in there.

I remember her raspy voice when she stood up for adult show and tell, her nervous facial scratching, her tears, and her self worth being at zero. But I couldn’t understand these things.

They come in flashes like an incomplete movie reel riddled with cigarette burns as numerous as the real cigarette butts in the ashtrays of both my parents vehicles during those days.

And as numerous as their fighting.

I remember the night when my father broke my mother’s ribs. It was Halloween, and the only thing that went bump in the night was my father stumbling about the house in a drunken stupor. He reeked of stale Milwaukee’s best, and he bumbled like a boulder rolling down a hill. As he fell into his chair with a trickle of beer from his last missed sip still rolling down his beard, my mother had decided to play a game on him in the Halloween spirit.

There was this toy witch on a rocking chair, and it was motion activated. When tripped, it would yell “Ahhhh hahaha! I’ll get you my little pretty!‘ My dad hated it. All night the little trick-or-treaters were setting it off, and all night he was cursing it while kicking back beers.

But my mother and I were schemers. We loved Halloween, and before the night ended we would play a trick on my father.

And it would have disastrous consequences.

I snuck up behind his reclining chair while he watched television. I placed the witch as close as I could to his head without him seeing it, and turned it on. The witch shrieked, and he jumped up from his chair startled.

Instead of him laughing at the prank, he stormed past me and charged at my mother with balled fists.

You bitch, you put him up to this! You think it’s funny?! I’ll show you funny!

I remember him dragging her into the bathroom. I remember her screams. I remember him kicking her while she was curled up on the bathroom tile floor crying for help.

Finally, my 6-year-old self ran up behind him and kicked him in the balls. He keeled over cursing and enraged. When he looked up from the floor at me in my pumpkin onesie, his face changed. I yelled through a tear-covered face, “Get the hell out of this house!” And so he did for the night.

And that night I vowed I would never ever be like him.

Not like my father, for he was a great man when sober, but like the monster he became that night. Never to be like my mother, who swore she would never leave me, but committed suicide and left a hurt so deep and dark I couldn’t see the bottom.

But it seems as though no matter how much I tried to hide it, deny it, and outright forget it, that monster lived inside of me in some form.

It was waiting in the darkness. Waiting for me to let myself be consumed.

The night I nearly ended my life was a result of these cigarette burns in my memories. Locked away until a climax of denial opened up Pandora’s Box after a year of the outrageous travel highs in New Zealand.

 

The Fall

It was when I woke in a hazy blur, and tried to touch my ear that was pounding with pain, only to have my hands stopped by the cold steel handcuffs around them, that I knew I was is deep shit.

When you wake up drunk, handcuffed to a chair that is bolted to concrete, you either did something really stupid, or you are in a Saw movie. Either way it is bad, and quite terrifying.

My head swayed about like a bobble head doll. I was fully plastered, three (or all) sheets to the wind, and couldn’t remember what had happened before that moment. As I glanced about a dimly lit room licking my chapped lips, I shook my hands in bewilderment trying to make sense of the situation.

Why was I here? And why was I in handcuffs?

Ahead of me, a police officer was sitting at a table writing on a yellow note pad.

I couldn’t remember anything. I didn’t know what time it was. I didn’t know where I was.

I finally gained the composure needed to spit out an understandable slur of a sentence to the intimidating officer.

I know I did something really bad, but I don’t remember anything. Can you please tell me why I am here?

The officer looked up at me with a stone face.

Oh, you’re finally here. Well, the detective gets in at 6am so you have to wait.

Detective? What? What the hell?!

Things started coming back to me at this point. I remember speaking to the officers on the sidewalk. We had made small talk at one point while I was handcuffed and sitting against the car as they searched me. We joked a couple times. It all seemed so…nonchalant. And I thought I was probably arrested for public intoxication. But why did I have a meeting with a detective?

Turns out I fucked up really bad.

I was brought into another room and handcuffed to another cold steel chair which was also bolted to the ground.

The detective entered the room; a woman with short curly hair, wearing a unforgiving starched suit with an equally unforgiving expression. The officers exited. I was so nervous I thought I would barf, and the shivering from the cold room just added to the sickness. Or was it the fear that had me shivering and on the verge of vomiting? I was just coming out of the blackout as she began questioning me.

One thing I remember her saying distinctly across that table which seemed to stretch for infinity was, “God, I can smell the whiskey on you from here.

The questioning soon changed from basic procedural questions to accusations. Accusations about stealing computers and drugs, two things I’ve never done.

There has been a string of PC robberies in the last couple weeks, and you fit the bill.

To be honest ma’am, I have money in the bank, I have an iPhone, an iPad, and a MacBook Pro. AND I work at Apple. I would never steal a Pc!

We both had quite a chuckle at this.

But then it was revealed just how serious the situation actually was I had put myself in.

Well, it is pretty obvious you are not our computer thief, but why did you break into this dentists office?

My mouth dropped in disbelief.

There is no way I broke into a dentist office.

Then why did we find you passed out at the reception desk? You kicked in the door.” The detective retorted.

You mean to tell me someone of my size kicked in a door?

With those shit-kickers you are wearing I have no doubt.” She said.

My normal attire didn’t give me an upper hand either. I was in my leather jacket, dark clothes, and vintage boots. Just things I wear besides my constant smile, and things that appear damning to the eye of the law that makes you a hooligan.

And by my own doing, I was damned.

 

The Pit

 A jail cell is a fucking scary place.

I honestly thought they were going to let me go. I had given every kind courtesies I could think of like, “Yes sir” and “Yes Officer” and “Yes Ma’am” and I followed every direction given without the slightest struggle.

Yet there I was, sitting uncomfortably in cold steel handcuffs behind my back that were grinding on my wrists on my way to jail. And more so than the physical discomfort and horrendous hangover, the dread of it all was like being hit in the stomach by a sledge-hammer.

I was processed at 7:am and placed in the 8X8 concrete cell, with the white metal door closing me off from the world, and separating me from any dignity I ever possessed.

Damned. And it seemed damned to purgatory. A purgatory that consisted of two small beds taken up by the four regulars, with three other fellow cell dwellers on the floor. There was no windows to give some sort of hope from the outside world, and no clock to help you from tumbling through a caged eternity.

The only shiny things in the cell was the gold tooth of one inmate glimmering in the fluorescent light as he snored, and the freestanding metal toilet. Besides that, a white void. There was no sulfur smell in this purgatory, just the smell of shit and piss and failure.

The stench of my own failure would rot and worsen throughout the day.

I was too exhausted, too hungover, and too defeated to give a damn about the piss covered floor as it sopped into my shirt when I laid down on it. I tried to drift into some far off place in my head, but I came to learn that the worst thing about jail is that you cannot escape it. Not even in your head.

I laid there for what seemed to be hours with my eyes closed, trying to sort out what had happened that night, and the possible consequences to come. I tried to sort out some kind of game plan about how I would hide this from everyone in my life. And could I figure out how to hide it from myself? I pretended to be asleep as the other cell dwellers began to liven up a bit.

In a solitary environment like that, your head could be a dangerous place to venture into. It was like a dark cave filled with fears, doubts, regrets, failures, pains, and most prominent of all — it is absent of self-worth. I began to relapse into thoughts about never getting out of this place, of the people who know me finding out, of being a disgrace, and about more permanent disappearing acts I could pull.

I had to snap myself out of these deadly thoughts.

I opened my eyes and sat up, observing the other cell dwellers conversing back and forth. Well, not conversing much, but comparing past, present, and future offenses like some sort of achievement. It seemed as though most knew all of the guards quite well. As more new cell dwellers were tossed in, guards and inmates spat jokes back and forth to each other by name.

At some point in the afternoon we were finally given something to eat and drink. I hadn’t had a sip of water or a bite to eat since before I had gone out the previous night, and I was ravenously hungry. But even the hunger didn’t help convince my brain that the stale bread and the fermenting sweaty bologna which probably sat out too long was edible. I ate it anyway.

I couldn’t tell if it was night or day, and I couldn’t even begin to guess the time. Lucky cell dwellers were called out of the cell occasionally throughout the day to meet the warden and be released, but the longer the day aged, the more demoralized I became. I was beginning to go crazy, biting my fingernails until they bled. I couldn’t stay another day in that damned place, but would I be called?

The guard stopped by around 4pm to notify us that the warden would be leaving soon, and if we weren’t called in the next hour, we would have to stay the night.

That is when panic set in. I had to get out of this place.

And just as the office was about to close, I was called. I stepped up to the window where the warden sat, and still to that moment I had a fools hope that she would give me release papers with no charges on them, and I would be free.

But I wouldn’t be free. And that night before… I had potentially ended my own life I knew it. I was damn lucky not to wind up dead getting that drunk and stumbling about, but this was a whole different kind of end to it.

The warden slid a yellow carbon copy paper to me and a print out of my court hearing. On the paper were words typed that made my whole world come crashing down.

Charge #1 1st Degree Burglary. Charge #2 1st Degree Breaking and Entering

 

The Trial of Denial

When you lie enough, your lies become a false truth. When you hide things enough, it piles up inside like a cramped closet, and one day it will come crashing out on top of you when that door is opened.

But it doesn’t matter at that moment, you are just thinking of putting these things on some high dark shelf to forget about and collect dust.

I had lied and hid things for so long about my past life to people, about my parents deaths, and about my feelings afterwards that it became natural. Little lies about minuscule things. Lies for no apparent reason. Lies to make me feel some sort of worth to someone else. I lied to myself and believed I would never be like my father and mother when it came to their poisons.

Sometimes I lied so much about my parents that it became as if I never really had parents, just a made-up figments of my imagination used to force these tragic memories away. Or as if they had never died, they were just on some vacation.

Except this incident finally opened that door.

Everything came crashing down around me, and showed me really the massive mess I had made inside of myself.

This was the biggest lie of them all. A lie that would harm myself more than the people I hurt by lying to in the process. And it began instantly and so incredibly easy.

I called my work the moment I was able to charge my phone, creating some elaborate story about mixed identities and police abuse while I was drunk. I lied to the closest people in my life; the family that for most of my life took me in as their own. And looking back, I told so many lies like they were normal that I can’t even remember who I lied to.

I lied to myself too. Somehow, even with the court papers potentially sealing my fate, I instantly discarded the problem. It would be alright. If I forgot about it, it hadn’t happened, just like the deaths of my parents.

Denial had become a part of my life. And it caused my downfall.

But this wouldn’t just go away. After “Mum” found out, the mother of the household I spent probably 50% of my childhood in which had become family, she made me realize just how dire my situation was.

I had hurt and offended her deeply. I had lied to her and I hadn’t really given it a second thought, nor had I given any thought to my court case until she told me the punishment of the charges.

5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine

 

The Monster

Suicide. I’ve gone over in my head a thousand time, and a thousand more about the day my Mother took her life. I remember the unparalleled agony when I was younger. And I never could understand why someone would take their own life. I couldn’t understand it until I considered it myself.

There are times in our lives when we are tested mentally, physically, and emotionally. People “deal” with these things differently, and some create elaborate constructs in our minds to hide them away. Some try to escape. Some try to start over.

And as I faced a possible 5 years in jail and the end to my life as I knew it, I seriously pondered the more permanent end to it all.

I’ve never told anyone this. Like most emotional aspects of life, I’ve kept it to myself until now.

Suicidal thoughts were inescapable. The darkness latched onto me as I was facing the hardest self-induced challenge of my life. For my entire life I never felt I could live up to my father and brother’s expectations. I’ve struggled with self-worth being at zero to the point where wondering what people thought of me happened every second of the day. I’ve never felt good enough. So instead, I went out in life to prove everyone wrong.

When you don’t feel worthy then you shut down all emotions, and throughout my life I’ve struggled to make any sort of meaningful connection with anyone because of it.

This time the failure was to myself. When you feel unworthy to most of the world as it is, and suddenly you don’t feel worthy to even your own self, what is the point in living? When you cannot feel love for yourself, there isn’t anything else.

These are the thoughts the monster deep down inside was feeding me. 

At this point I had a lawyer who was working on the case, and maybe the fact that they were able to bring the felony charges down to mis-demeanor charges helped calm down these dark thoughts. Maybe it was because I knew what pain a suicide causes your loved ones to feel.

Either way, I spent months terrified that my life was going to end and I would be put in jail, yet at the same time I was questioning my reason to live.

If I went to jail, this lofty construct or dream I had created in my mind about traveling the world was over. The only thing I thought gave my life meaning.

Leading up to my trial which would still decide if I did jail time, I was required to take weekly drug and alcohol tests, and I chose to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to help my case.

What a sick cycle life is. Little Ryan had been there many times before to those meetings with his mother and father. And here I was again.

But going to those meetings and being sober for months on end showed me above all that I had been hiding this monster inside me for so long, that finally traveling and “escaping” actually contributed to that night.

Hopefully these trickles of realizations wouldn’t be all for naught as my court date arrived.

Heading to the courtroom that day was the scariest moment I’ve lived through. I didn’t know what the outcome would be, what tomorrow would be like, or if I could handle that final failure if I did lose.

Emotions and fears flooded through me as I took a seat on the bench and spoke with my lawyer.

They have no case at all, and I have been trying to get them to throw it out, but they want to make an example out of you because Bethesda always has problems from people at the bars.

I felt like screaming. I felt like crying. I felt stupid. I felt frustrated at myself. I felt lonely, yet I wanted to disappear. I had gotten wasted, stumbled to a building that in my drunken state resembled the house I lived at, broken in, and passed out. But the prosecutors wanted to make it seem as though I broke in for drugs or money.

They wanted to use me as an example. 

I sat anxiously on that bench for 3 hours as the judge cycled through tons of cases, most of which didn’t get a break. I practiced over and over what I would say to the judge when I faced her, trying to come up with some sort of inspirational story that might woo her into letting me go.

And then it was time. Time to see if that night, when I had made the stupidest decision of my life, would end it.

Sitting there waiting for my fate to be decided, I had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to live. Not just to live as I had, but to live as much as humanly possible for myself. I was tired of holding it in. Tired of trying to impress others. Tired of trying to live up to some expectation. Tired of pretending to be happy to snub nose those who doubted me. Tired of running away.

And then the judgement came.

 

The Awakening

The warm sun shining on my face was the most amazing sensation I’ve ever felt. My skin tingled, and chills like electricity filled my body. I was free, standing outside the courthouse with my eyes closed, my face to the sun, and a smile on my face.

After speaking with the police officer from that night, it became clear to the prosecution that I had in no way intended to be in that dentist office. The officer’s testimony would have helped my case, so instead of charging me, they dropped all charges if I paid a $500 fine.

With $2,000+ spent on lawyers, $500 for damages (I totally deserved this), months of AA meetings, and a lifetime of hidden emotions revealed, it was over.

Yet, it wasn’t over. It was not a fresh start, but a realization of the things that have plagued me all of my life.

And this realization, and acceptance of my past because of this, will probably save my life from future dark moments.

Ever since I was young when my mother first took her life, I’ve thought a lot about death. It has been so prominent, yet so little talked about until now. And holding my fathers dead body in my arms tore most of happiness right out of my soul.

Until now.

I will not lie, I still have plenty after dark thoughts chasing my soul and clouding my head. I still have terrible habits that I am trying to battle.

And even though I do love a good craft beer or fine whiskey to match to foods, I have to remember not to drown myself in it.

Hell, in New Zealand I can count on one hand how many times I drank over the year.

That day in the sunlight something awoke in me, something I hadn’t felt in a long time, something warm. I felt a light in my life and a purpose. It wasn’t the deceiving lullaby sang by my demons to comfort me, it was a warmth of happiness and gratitude for having a second chance.

At the end of my world as I knew it, I was able to step away from oblivion in two instances. I wasn’t going to jail, and I realized how badly I needed to focus on myself.

 

Travel Doesn’t Heal.

When I read about Anita Mac’s suicide, it really made me reflect more on that day I went to jail, and those moments when my life was teetering on the edge of ending it at the hands of myself and others.

What caused that night to happen? Why did I drink so much? Why was I so miserable?

Truth is, when I came back from New Zealand I felt like a failure. After all of my hoopla about starting over and chasing my dreams, I had come full circle back to a life I was running away from. And I had even convinced myself I wasn’t running away from anything.

That was the first problem. I was still running away, and still lying to myself.

I was ashamed and felt worthless, more so than ever after my attempt to escape. I did things again like I had done before to fill the holes of my unhappiness. Going out every night to get drunk in hopes of meeting a girl. Browsing dating sites in hopes of getting some small amount of attention from someone. Lying more and more.

Yet every day I felt alone. Every day I felt worthless. Every day I felt as if I was tumbling through a pointless existence.

But the fall had started in New Zealand.

You see, when I left to New Zealand I had become invigorated with a sense of purpose and life, inspired to make something better for myself.

I was fiercely dedicated to starting over. To starting fresh. To leave my past life behind and discover myself.

And that is where another deadly fault lied.

When I was in New Zealand, I thought more about my past more than ever. When culture shock hit me, I holed myself away from any and all interactions. I sat alone. I ate alone. I wandered alone. And this would be fine, because being alone on the road is a part of the journey. But I felt lonely, and that is a potent poison. The darkness I never faced began to rape my mind.

The problem with starting over is that you are brushing things aside, or hiding things away in that dark closet. Many think that travel can be their fresh start from a life that made them unhappy, and that it can heal any pains you might have.

Travel cannot heal you.

Travel cannot fix you. 

Travel cannot change your life. 

It has to begin with you. 

If you leave on a trip without facing your inner demons, or without acknowledging those demons while on the road, it can have dire consequences.

That solitude on the road can become that white 8X8 jail cell that smells of piss and shit and failure, leading your mind to amplify the problems you’ve never faced. The monster inside will find you in your darkest and loneliest moments on the road if you don’t face it. Whether it is when you return home, while you are on the road, when you have travel heartbreak, when you have culture shock. Whenever.

Travel can help heal though.

It is not the cure to your problems. It will not magically make things go away. But what travel can do is be a part of the healing process. That solitude on the road doesn’t have to be a jail cell, it can help you sort through your true feelings and help you discover what you really need in life to be happy.

It starts with acknowledgment. 

You have to be more self-aware than any point in your life while on the road. You have to be more honest with yourself than ever. You have to be more open and willing to talk about what bothers you or has you down. Travel ups and downs are way more volatile, and you have to be in tune with your emotions.

Travel can also help expose a wound that needs healing, and on the road you can truly focus on healing it. But if you ignore it as you did before, it can fester. On a journey, you mustn’t ignore your woes, you must include the in the journey as you venture forth in a pursuit of happiness.

These things must be healed.

Travel cannot be an ultimate escape. 

Travel cannot make things vanish.

Travel can be a necessary escape from things in your life that are holding you back though.

By removing yourself from restrictive elements, normalcy, and comfort zones, you finally have the chance to truly work on you. You are naked in the world, able to discover things inside yourself and out in the world that you never thought existed. But opening that door will open you up to all over yourself in its entirety, and you cannot ignore that bad parts.

At the end of it all, life didn’t begin again for me, I began to finally build upon myself toward a life I want to live . I’ve become self-aware, and this is the reason I am so open with you about this. Because finally I am facing that ugly self in the mirror, a face that turns out wasn’t so ugly after all. I was just too scared to look, which made the monster in the dark more fierce, but finally I see myself looking back.

And finally I can smile.

 

A Proclamation

Let my intent be known.

I am a traveler.

My Farsickness cannot be cured.

I yearn to step foot in far away places.

To traverse plains of golden grass.

To cross deserts made up of the sands of time.

To swim in waters the color of gemstones.

To stand atop mountains above the clouds.

To taste strange flavors of strange countries.

To shatter my own ignorance with each different culture.

To let my soul dance to the music of the world.

To seek self enlightenment through knowledge gained not by reading, but by experiencing.

To face my own fears, doubts, worries, and inhibitions in the pursuit of my own happiness with the ferocity of a lion.

To adventure for nobody else except myself.

To let my soul be pulled aloft to unknown places near and afar. To the physical, and the metaphysical, and in the mind, body, and soul.

I am alive, and with every precious breath I will strive to live.

It is never the destination, but the journey through the world and ones self that is a part of travel.

I proclaim, here and now, my intent to live gnarly.

And nothing will stop me.

Comments

  1. Kristin of Be My Travel Mues

    Powerful stuff, Ryan. I’ve been reading a lot of these posts lately on what travel doesn’t fix, and I definitely agree. One can run away but in the end it’s still running, and eventually one has to confront the harsh realities of what was left behind.

    While I completely agree that travel doesn’t fix things, it did help me grow and realize a lot of things about life. I forgave people who I needed to forgive. I learned about compassion and that has made a huge difference in my life.

    The dark side is that it can draw people farther into negative habits, like substance abuse. It’s a double-edged sword in a lot of ways, as is life in general, I suppose.

    Kudos for having the courage to post this x

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Thank you Kristin for taking the time to read this post. You insight on travel had always been very honest as well about the ups, downs, and truths. I completely agree that it can definitely be a part of the fix, and a powerful aid in that, as long as you let it happen and not think it’ll fix itself.

      I appreciate the Kudos, it still scared the hell out of me sharing it!

  2. Dani

    This is an incredible article, Ryan. I know it must have taken a lot of courage to publish it, but know that it will positively impact somebody’s life. I think your realization applies to many situations whether it’s travel or something else that someone is using to escape their inner problems.

    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading about your gnarly adventures 😛

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      I really do hope it reaches someone if they do need it and I’m learning that having the courage to tell others about these things helps me work it out for myself as well. Thank you for the comment Dani 🙂

  3. Jayne

    You’ve taken a courageous step in sharing this and I was a bit shocked to read it, but I’m SO glad you did. You have in fact delivered your message perfectly and given all your readers the inspiration to do the same (have self awareness) or at the very least be aware of what could happen if they use travelling as a bandaid. So happy for you and we’re Lovin’ the honesty and passion man…KUDOS to you 🙂

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      As always Jayne, I really take to heart that it made a potential positive impact so thank you for the kind words and for reading it. Being self-aware is huge while traveling, because like I said, emotions are so volatile. Thank you Jayne!

  4. Annie

    Well done Ryan for telling the man in the mirror just how it is,you know life isn’t always kind or easy and you’ve experienced much in a short time.

    I genuinely believe you are a winner, I never pick up ‘loser’ from your blogs and send this with caring thoughts from Downunder.

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Annie, your words brought a smile to my face, thank you. It is so easy to wallow in “loser” or feeling of self pity, which are a gateway to more powerful dark emotions, but I am finally feeling like a winner for myself 🙂

      Thank you!

  5. Britany

    Brave stuff here, Ryan. Thank you for sharing your journey and expressing a struggle that so many of us can relate to. You ROCK! 🙂

  6. Mal

    Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I hope one day to be as brave as you are…. and have your gift for words!!

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      One day you will be. It will come, but if you are facing something, at least you are acknowledging it exists, which is the most important part.

  7. Flora @ Flora the Explorer

    Recently, every post you write just makes me more amazed, and more overwhelmed – and this one made me cry! Dealing with so much hurt and difficulty that you’ve taken so long to share is a mark of your bravery, Ryan.

    I truly hope that by writing all this and laying it out so openly for everyone to see means you’re coming to terms with it. And judging by your realisations about what travel can and can’t achieve, I think you’re ready for a bit of adventuring in SE Asia 🙂 you’re awesome, never forget it xx

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      I am sorry to make you cry Flora! But I am happy to make a connection and your amazing comment made me smile. It feels like an anvil has been lifted off of my chest, and talking about it which I’ve never done before this blog is definitely having a positive affect on me. I cannot WAIT to get to SE Asia, and this time with a clear view of my soul and a better outlook in the adventure 🙂

  8. Josh

    Wow Ryan, amazing read that goes beyond and truly touches deep. Thanks for having the pair to share. Live gnarly my friend.

  9. Christina

    Damn. Thank you for this post…honestly it may have been the most real thing I’ve read on the internet ever. I have not been through the exact same experiences as you, but I have been through a hell of a lot more intense shit than 99% of people I know, so I know what it’s like to bottle it all up and not share the deep stuff with anyone, for fear that acknowledging that it happened will somehow make you feel lesser, or even just force you to deal with it, when all you really want is to pretend that everything is normal and cheery. It takes such a long time to work through all of those emotions, but the important thing is that you’re CHOOSING to. It has taken so many years for me to make that choice, and I’m not sure I can claim that it gets easier, because some days can still be pretty hard (especially if you’re lonely while traveling), but you’re absolutely right that just chasing superficial contact with people/attention from the opposite sex is only temporarily drowning the pain, rather than dealing with it.

    Serious props to you for coming back from that dark place, and I wish you nothing but the best on your journey from here forward.

    Cheers 🙂

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Thank you for the heartfelt comment Christina, and I’m glad to read that it seems you too are facing things of your past. You are truly right, that bottling these things up inside do no good, and usually lead you to supplement happiness with distractions. Maybe that was the key to me limiting my vocalization of it all, that I felt it would make me a lesser person.

      Thank you for sharing and the encouragement!

  10. [email protected]

    Ryan- I don’t know what to say, but this post WOW. I feel like I know you so much better, and thank you for sharing and being so open with all of us. So glad you are here with us today, and we can’t wait to see you on the road in Asia.

    And we agree travel doesn’t solve everything……..

  11. Laura

    Wow Ryan, this gave me the chills. I definitely agree that travel has its ups and downs, I’ve become more aware and in tune with my emotions too which keeps me grounded. If I’m upset, I allow it. Any emotion I have i allow it. I don’t try to fight it because thats when it gets worse. If we just allow our emotions to come and accept them without feeling guilty about having them, we will feel much more relieved.

    Travel has helped me a lot , it has opened my eyes and heart. I love learning new things about myself as I’m on the road.

    Lastly, I’m proud of you for writing this. Being real and raw is a very beautiful thing. You’re on a great journey, I’m excited for you. 🙂

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Thank you so much for the kind words Laura, and I can honestly say it feels good to write about it. Unlike you, I would refuse to accept those kind of emotions, and that led to the fall. But I am aware now, and I’ll let them happen and not just ignore them.

  12. Nomadic Chick

    We seem to be twined. We are survivors my friend. I also grew up in a pretty dark family. My mom tried to commit suicide three times and my dad was what you’d call a lowlife — philandering, gambling and whoring. Hope I don’t sound bitter because I’m not at all. The best thing I ever did for myself was to forgive both my mom and dad. We aren’t neatly packaged, but human, so bloody human and that’s what makes our species vulnerable, wonderful and fascinating.

    Your raw honesty is something to be commended, a rarity in the blogging world. And I agree about the false idea that travel fixes everything. I came to that realization myself last year and I’m more grounded in why I travel, what it brings me, but what I also have to work on in myself.

    Peace, brother! Don’t we all deserve that?

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Yes, we do deserve peace! But I’m sure after accepting circumstances and becoming more aware and grounde, you’ve realized you can’t have peace until you are at peace with yourself. Your life endeavors are very intense as well, and I am so happy to see that you are rocking out on life and living for you. Stay awesome 🙂

  13. Megan

    Ryan, thank you for writing this post. Your writing will affect and inspire a lot of people, but I hope it’s helped you too.

  14. Ali

    Wow. I’m not even sure what to say in response to such a powerfully honest post. Took a lot of guts to share all of this with the world, but I’m sure it was a bit of a relief to get it out there. I’m glad everything worked out with the trial, and I’m soooo glad you’re working on your demons. I cannot imagine growing up the way you did. I wish you all the strength in the world to continue fighting your demons and be happy.

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Thank you for your amazing words of encouragement Ali. I am so happy that I am dealing with these things finally and the world seems brighter than ever 🙂

  15. Arnette RTW

    Bravo Ryan…it’s very brave of you to share this with the world. I hope it’s brought you even a tiny fraction of peace.

    For me, travel was not a solution but part of my therapy process besides real therapy. I’m still trying to work through things….I call myself a work in progress. I do think travel can help but it isn’t end all be all solution to all problems. I feel like many of us come back and are hit doubly hard when we realize we’ve just stepped back from the progress we thought we made.

    Are you in DC? I’m thinking about heading there to visit someone after a NYC. Would love to hang out some…I definitely think there’s a lot of commonalities between us.

  16. Caz Craig Makepeace (@yTravelBlog)

    Such a great post Ryan, thank you for being so brave to share it. I am so glad my post evoked such a response in you, only because it brought you to writing this post. You can help so many people by sharing your story. Our experiences are not for us alone, but so we can share what we learn to help others. Life is easier dealt with when we can receive comfort from others to know we are not alone in our struggles, fears, and feelings of worthlessness. And if someone else can overcome them, then surely I can too.

    I believe travel has an immense power to heal, only because it brings you face to face with yourself. It strips away many of those things that keep you busy and hidden –the routines, the comforts, the people who are always there holding us to be a certain person or act in a certain way. It’s only when we remove those that we are forced to discover the real us and in doing so confront the things we most fear and keep locked away.

    I too faced many of my demons whilst travelling. I know had I stayed at home, I never would have faced them. I can see clearly what life would have been for me, and it would have been disconnected, false, unfulfilled and desperately unhappy.

    Travel helped me to get so real and to build my own strength so I could recreate a life that was truly in line with me and what made me most happy. That’s not to say the challenges and the bad times go away, life means they’ll always be there. You just get better at understanding what they mean and learning to manage them.

    Keep remembering the sunshine on your face. That is the moment of blessing that will carry you through every dark moment from here on end. I have my own moments of blessing that keeps my head facing the sun.

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Thank you for the wonderful comment and for reading this memoir. What I enjoy most about your blog is your own insight and honest about personal endeavors that go along with travel. You are so right in many ways, and it really helped me review my own personal struggles as well as forming travel into a tool to help heal myself, not to supplement things in my life. The sun is shining brighter than ever on my face 🙂

  17. Joseph

    To be perfectly honest, I’d rather read articles like this, where the people behind the story feel real, and reveal their core. It is not easy to share a part of yourself, it takes a giant amount of courage and pain to do that, but it also brings healing. I have to admit that several times I’ve used travel as an escape from my inner demons, but they were there, always with me. Some of the toughest times of my life were while traveling – but they helped me grow and I am forever grateful for that. I hope with all my heart that you are better, stronger and walk with your cool chucks and head held high. You are a hero – first and foremost, yours!

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Thank you for the amazing comment and encouragement Joseph!
      I feel as though I have become stronger than ever before and even more driven than ever before. Travel definitely had it’s character building moments, and those moments where travel breaks you down, you have to realize it and fight through!

  18. Anna Kate

    This article is AMAZING, never in my life have I been so captivated. or able to easily relate to what this article is saying. I don’t think you will ever understand how many lives this article will touch, how many lives it will change! Congratulations on gathering up the courage to post this. It really breaks the mold for how society views travelers, everyone has a reason for why we travel, we just don’t always know why,

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Thank you for such a marvelous comment and all of the positive mojo Anna. Means a lot! It feels good to be growing in terms of my past and dealing with it the right way.

  19. veronica

    You absolutly right that the travelling isn’t solution and the truth is that you can’t solve your problems and your monsters hiding away. Everybody has its own monsters and we will have a lot of problems all the way, as it is the life. We can’t have paradise in a cursed world. But the life we are given is the best we ever have. It’s your choice to decide what your life will be fill of. Wish you not to waste it and to be joyful!

  20. Brian Wadman

    Great post mate. I’ve never responded to one of these travel blogs before, but your honesty was too damned real. You are right about self-awareness as the key to overcoming the bad thoughts. Keep pushing forward! If you need any help with finding teaching gigs, let me know. I am at a University in Thailand. Best, Brian

    1. Author
      JustChuckinIt

      Brian, I appreciate your comment and I’m honored that you would share even though you said you never comment on them! I really appreciate the offer and I will definitely reach out!

  21. Ana Sana

    Bravo!! How brave of you to share your story like this. I’ve just recently discovered your blog and I must say I’m really impressed! I love your writing style and the blog itself is beautiful. I’m looking forward to reading more.

    I found myself really identified in this piece. I just got back to europe from a 4 month journey in central america, and have found myself indulging in a lot of escapist ideas and plans. Your post has served as a HUGE reminder for me to stay present with what’s going on here (like it or not!). I have a lot to reflect on now, thanks 😉 Also, I’ve just recently started a travel blog of my own, and have a story to share as well. You’ve given me the courage and motivation to work on that, and I thank you for that!

    Keep up the gnarly posting!
    In grattitude,
    Ana

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