I’m packing for Thailand and it’s more than just a holiday.
It’s running away. It’s running towards. It’s my healing process.
I’ve been here before.
Haven’t we all?
Two summers ago I left for a 96 mile hike through the Scottish Highlands with an 18kg bag.
Any hiking gear geek would shudder. It weighed such a ridiculous amount because I was carrying the hiking gear and food meant to be shared between two.
I remember telling my friend I was going on my own, she didn’t catch on quick enough and shouted at me for being so unsafe and stupid. I calmly explained it hadn’t been my plan.
The plan had been to surprise my partner Matt with a 5 day hike along the West Highland Way. We had done part of the Kings Trail in North Sweden and it had been so beautiful and isolated I wanted to give him a similar experience for his 30th birthday. His Grandma has just been given a terminal diagnosis of lung cancer and I knew how helpless he felt, living in Sweden and feeling so far from helping his family. I’d contacted his Mother and asked if she minded me asking friends and family to sponsor us, and which charity would she and her Mum prefer. I ended up, with their permission, raising over 1000 pounds for Cancer Research in secret.
Little did I know, on the night before I was due to give him the train tickets to Glasgow, our 2 year relationship would all go wrong. I would end up sleeping on the sofa of our hotel having left Matt in the hotel room drunk, never to see him again. He said hateful things because of the alcohol and I saw the real man behind the gentle exterior. I was so disgusted by what I saw, and him telling me I was using his Grandmother’s illness against him, that I left. I had no where to go that early, so begged the hotel receptionist for a sofa, cup of tea and taxi as soon as the trains started.
I went home to Mum and Dad.
I woke up, came downstairs, and told my parents I was going to do the hike on my own. People had donated all that money, I couldn’t break my promise to Matt’s Mum even though I knew I’d never see her again.
I went into the loft and found my old DofE backpack and never looked back.
On that hike I met friends for life. Everyone on that walk had a story to tell, and we shared them in the pubs at night or on the miles we trekked. We bared our souls to strangers as if the Mountains under our tired feet gave us their confidence.
Everyone has a story to tell. Don’t run from yours, take it with you wherever you go.
Pack it into your old DofE rucksack with the trailmix and blisterplasters like an honorary part of your emergency kit.
My bag is packed!