Around Europe in 30 days #10: Losing myself (Granada)

In 2008, when I was 21, I came up with the idea of booking an Interrail ticket and touring Europe for a month. I decided travel to Paris, Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Athens, Istanbul and Vienna. And I felt the strong urge to do this tour alone.

Day 7 – Granada (Spain)

Like in the hostels before, I booked into the women’s dorm. But differently from Paris and Madrid, the hostel had hardly any guests during that time. So I ended up with a room all to myself. Additionally, I knew that I had a couple of days in Granada, since my reservation to visit the Alhambra was only scheduled for the 3rd day of my stay, and I had realized during my Odyssey of the inner city, that it was smaller than I anticipated.

Time and solitude are pure luxury for me nowadays, but back then this created a different kind of trouble. After a couple of hours in my hostel room, the full scope of traveling alone finally hit me.

I had been actively distracting myself by rushing to as many sights as possible and the hostels before had also been busy beehives. My year had been similar up to that point: University, family, friends… I was actively trying to keep myself occupied, trying not to face the inner turmoil. And suddenly, in the quiet and solitude, there was no more running away from my inner thoughts and feelings. A giant wave of suppressed emotions started washing over me and there was no escaping it.

My catalyst to undertake this trip had been the breakup of my first relationship in the beginning of the year. I had spent the initial months succumbing to the despair of the initial heartbreak. But at some point I had settled into dealing with my broken heart and self-confidence by keeping as busy as possible. Distraction seemed the only way of not giving into the pain. I had thrown myself into college and kept busy with family and friends. I did not allow myself to rest and deal with what I felt. I was too afraid that if I allowed it, that I would never recover from it.

But I had underestimated what exhaustion could do to your inner walls. I had no more defenses to keep my inner world at bay. There was no more hiding from the truth. I was still hurting. I was not over being left by my first boyfriend of 2 years. That breakup had shattered my beliefs in love and myself. I felt ashamed and betrayed. A part of me was convinced that I was unlovable and worthless.

I had been running from this inner turmoil for months. I hated feeling so desperate, hurt and scared. But all I could do in that moment was to cry it out. I did not actively allow myself to experience what had been lurking under the surface for so long. It simply got bigger than my defenses and left me sobbing. I just wanted it to end, but had no strength left to push it back down. So I kept crying and was forced to move through all the thoughts and questions that I had forbidden myself in the past.

It felt like hell. It felt like it would never end. But suddenly… it did. I had no more tear to cry. I had no more question to ask. And as if the swamp just needed to be properly drained, I finally felt very light and quiet. And everything was alright. I was peaceful. The world had not ended. I was okay. Everything was going to be okay. I could finally let go of the past and start looking to the future. There was hope. I might not be as despicable as my inner demons were suggesting. Maybe there was something out there for me. I did not know for sure. But I had made it through this night. What I had been fearing of facing turned out to be painful but healing. I felt peaceful. I had finally reconnected with myself. And I was ready to face the future.

Cover picture was taken in Granada (Spain) in Sep 2008

Missing the beginning of this story?
Around Europe in 30 days #1: Forming a plan

7 thoughts on “Around Europe in 30 days #10: Losing myself (Granada)

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  1. That must have been very painful for you, especially if a first love. It’s a weird saying but ultimately, and in most instances time does heal. Something I learned on my personal development journey was that people come into our lives for a reason. Sometimes they stay for a very long time, other times they leave sooner than expected. But each person is there go teach us something about ourselves, even if they or we don’t realise it. And when the time comes, they leave. You’ve learned what you needed and its time to move on. Sometimes that separation is painful, other times not. But somewhere along the way, you’ll look back and say “thank you, I learned what I needed to know”, because you will know.
    For me i found that knowing that, made it so much easier when someone left my life…I just smile and say “thank you”. The lesson is not necessarily immediately clear, but but there will come a time when it makes sense.
    It seems to me that the process you went through has taught you so much…resilience and strength…you got through and now you know that you can. Bravo xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your wise words, and I agree wholeheartedly. As painful as my first breakup was, it was transformative. I learned that some people leave your life and that you survive. I started to learn that I am loveable and have worth outside of a romantic relationship. As much as we don’t want ourselves or others to suffer, I believe that loss and heartbreak are essential for us to grow to our full potential.


  2. It’s often the first love that hurts the most, depending on how deeply the connection had been. That’s no wonder so many of us (i.e. heartbroken people) take to traveling in hopes of escaping the pain. But what I’ve seen that it’s traveling that forces you to confront the pain, too, as there’s time outside of work and responsibilities to reflect on it. It’s lovely you got to face those thoughts in such a beautiful city as Granada, and with time, it does heal!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed, Rebecca. More often than not, travel has forced me to truly check in with myself and face my inner demons. Even though it can be painful and a part of me dreads it, it has always been healing and I am grateful of that part of the travel experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Your last sentence is absolutely correct. It reminds me of a quote I heard many years ago….diamonds are formed under pressure 💗 And to learn that you have worth outside of a romantic relationship is essential knowledge. So much of what we see in society growing up, leads us to believe we need a significant other in order to survive. Think Disney….we’re brainwashed from a very young age. Yes, its amazing to be in a strong, fulfilling relationship, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of our own personality. All the best and big hugs xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Couldn’t have said it any better! I admit, I’ve been sold the Disney dream of love, but after many failed attempts at dating (particularly through dating apps), it goes to show you can’t force it, and that it’s important to look after yourself first before committing to someone else. That’s what makes a relationship the strongest!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think most girls are sold on Disney and as a result our expectations are wayyyy too unrealistic….hence the big fluffy weddings. As for dating apps, I dipped my toe in a few years ago and frankly the men I met weren’t up to standard. But my daughter met her husband via a dating app and they’re happily married 3 years later and have a baby. Having said that, they both had unpleasant experiences with app dating before they met. So its luck of the draw I guess. But yes, its treated as trite, but you really do need to love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin when committing to a relationship…but on the other hand its absolutely okay to be single as well.

        Liked by 2 people

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