As I sit on the veranda of my Beach Hut in Gili Island, I take a deep breath in and a long exhale. This Beach Hut is around 30 yards from the Beach itself. It’s pretty secluded, but it’s also a walk, or bike ride away from the bars and restaurants. I can hear the waves crashing on the shores, and it feels like medicine to me. I needed this, I really need this. Even though I’ve woken up with another 12 fresh mosquito bites, and even though, it sounded like there was an animal of some sort in my small beach hut room all night, and even though, my shower, and toilet are outside, I would still rather be here right now than in the business of Ubud.
It’s been 8 days since my last blog, and so much has happened. As I sit down to write this, I wonder where to even start. How can I possibly share what has arrived, what has transcended, and what I am still processing?
As I close my eyes, take a deep breath and drop in to my heart, I hear the words…… ‘start where you start’
Waking up in Ubud and breathing in to gratitude didn’t feel effortless. I missed home, and I missed my Mum. Nevertheless I tried muster up bravery, and take it all in. So many people had told me that Bali/Ubud was the place for healing. That it was the best place in the World. I tried my best to come here with no expectations, but I guess I had a few. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from it, but I certainly didn’t expect to get what I got.
I managed to get what they call ‘Bali Belly’ early on which kind of forced me to stay in my room for a few days. I didn’t want to stay in my room, I wanted to eat the delicious food, drink the beautiful fresh healthy juices, go to yoga barn and participate in their activities. I wanted to meet new friends, visit the waterfalls, dance and enjoy everything that Ubud had to offer. But instead I was in my room, alone and in the struggle.
After 3 days, my bad tummy got better, by which time it was time to move to another hotel. As soon as I walked in to the new hotel, I felt a sense of joy. It felt welcoming, and had a nice vibe. This is perfect I thought. I was also feeling better in myself, and had met a lovely German Woman, Simone, she was also checking in at the same time as me. She too was on a solo trip, and within 30 mins of chatting and enjoying coffee together, she had encouraged me to hire a scooter. I was nervous, as the roads in Ubud are wild, with scooters and taxis flying around and overtaking one another at any opportunity.
With all of that said, she didn’t hold a gun to my head, and I made a choice to feel the fear and do it anyway. We headed off, and had a great day exploring Ubud, and its many wonderful sights. We stopped for food, and connected. This Felt good, and so needed, given my rocky start.
The following day, we set off again, on another adventure, only this time it was raining, and when it rains in Bali, it rains like no where I’ve ever seen. We were doing our best to be careful, but I came off my scooter. Thankfully only minor cuts and bruises, I wasn’t particularly bothered by it, and shrugged it off, but it was enough for me to hand my scooter back and opt to be a passenger moving forward.
Around the same time, I received an unexpected message from my Tarot Reader Leah, which read something along the lines of
‘Jill, I have had the strongest feeling since I woke up this morning about you. I need to tell you that whatever you have planned for the next 24 hours, please put it off. You will need to slow down, as you’re going to process some things’
At this point I had been feeling really good. My tummy was better, I was feeling much better, I had met a someone who I connected with, and even though I’d come off the scooter, I felt the best I’d felt internally since arriving in Bali. What did this message mean?
Later that day, Simone and I decided to head to a local Spa, where I got reflexology. During the session, as the Balinese therapist worked her magic, I began to feel emotions moving through my body. I could feel sadness, fear, sorrow, and confusion all rise within me. I felt my chest tighten,, as I swallowed my emotions. I wanted to hold it together in the salon, Simone was next to me, and I’d only known her for 2 days. As we left, I made my excuses as to why I couldn’t come out for dinner that night, but the truth was, I needed to get back to my hotel room and let all of these emotions out.
I practically hot footed it past reception, down the corridor, through my door and there I was met by someone far greater and bigger than I had ever expected or experienced before. That someone was Grief.
That was 5:30pm on the Wednesday, and there I stayed, with grief as my only company for the next 3 days.
Never in my life have I experienced sadness and emotional sorrow in this way. Of course I have grieved, and of course I have felt huge sorrow, but this was new. This was bigger than anything I’ve felt, and there was no one to help me. No one to call, no one to visit, nothing to distract me. It was only me, and all of my emotions. There were times during the first 30 hours of crying that I thought to myself ‘This is what hell must feel like’
I paced the floor, lay on the floor, struggled to catch a breath, felt like I was going to throw up. There were times I felt desperate, helpless, lonely, scared, sad, and small, but the biggest emotion I felt was vulnerable. I have never felt more vulnerable in my life, than I did in those moments.
I missed my family and friends, but more than anything else, I missed my Mum. I wanted her comfort and safety. I cried for me, and I cried for her. I cried for everything she went through, I cried for her 19 years of cancer, I cried for her struggle, and for the life she had to endure for the last few years. I cried for my Sister, and everything she had and was going through with grief. I cried for my Stepdad, and his pain and struggle, and I cried for me. I cried, and cried, and cried.
The next day, I tried to eat some breakfast, and as I sat in the restaurant, I looked at my food, and felt only grief. I began to cry again at the breakfast table, and so I quickly returned to my room, where I cried again.
Later that day, I tried to leave the room once more, and go to the hotel pool. As I sat on the sun lounger, grief hit me once more, and I began to cry again.
Some hours later, I chatted to my Sister on FaceTime. I was still sitting poolside, and even though there were people around me, as I spoke to her I continued to cry. I was aware that people could see and hear me, but I couldn’t seem to stop. She reassured me I was going to be OK, and I knew this to be true. This was a process I had to go through.
Later that night, I spoke to my friends Lynette and Natalie, by Zoom and they held space for me some more. More tears, more sorrow, and more healing took place.
The following day I felt a little lighter, but cried a lot, and didn’t venture far from my room for another 24 hours.
I never knew why I had come to Bali, after all, it’s on the other side of the world, but I knew that it was calling me. I chose Bali for a reason, and I believe now that one of those reasons were to be in a place and space that I could not only explore deeper healing, but I could also feel grief on the deepest levels.
If I’d been home, yes I would grieve, but I would have been distracted, and distracted myself. I would have had the complete safety of my family around me. I would have kept busy, thinking I was giving myself space to grieve, but not really allowing it in.
Being here, threw me in to grief, fear and vulnerability on levels that I would never have endured at home. There was no escape, I had no one, and nothing to go to. It was just me, in my deepest vulnerability.
It was the Friday evening of that week before I got ready and forced myself to connect with a lovely Balinese family that my friend Martin had put me in touch with. Made, picked me up from my hotel, and drove me to his lovely home to meet his family. As soon as I saw him, I felt safe. His family were beautiful human beings, and made me feel so welcome. We drank hot fresh ginger tea, and ate fresh passion fruit from their trees. They were medicine that I needed in those moments. My nervous system had settled and I began to feel settled in their presence.
The next day, Made picked me up and drove me to some beautiful places around Ubud. We had a great day, and I felt such gratitude for him. Gratitude that even though he didn’t know me, him and his beautiful family showed such love and kindness for me, a stranger. I was also able to bring in huge gratitude to Bali. Bali was allowing me to feel emotions that I may have never been able to feel at home.
That night, I put a little makeup on, and a dress, and heading out for a nice meal alone. I met another solo traveller Naz, who was celebrating her 50th Birthday in Bali. She was amazing, and she reminded me of my dear friend from home, who’s name is also Naz. She was charismatic , funny, confident and a real empowered woman. And even though she was heading off somewhere else the next day, and our time together was short, she was medicine once more, reminding me of strength, courage and empowerment.
I was due to head off to a 4 day Yoga Retreat the following day, and as I checked my email to confirm registration etc, I noticed that my place on the retreat had been cancelled. I had been double booked and they had cancelled my spot.
Shit, I thought, what now? I check out of my hotel today, and I have nowhere to go? After going back and forth with options, nothing was jumping out at me. Then I remembered Naz had mentioned Gili Island. She had been for 2 days, and it sounded beautiful. I couldn’t get there until the following day as it involved at 6am pick up, followed by a boat journey to the island.
I decided to stay 1 more night in Ubud, at a hotel across the road, then I’d head off to Gili early the next morning.
I went out that night for dinner alone, and tired. I was tucking in to some nice food, and as night started to fall, and dark began to come, I was met by a familiar friend once more. ‘Hello grief, it’s nice to see you again, come take a seat’
Suddenly my appetite had gone, and as I pushed my food to the side, I felt the sting of tears once more. I then felt my Mum with me. I felt like she was there, wrapping her arms around me. I took a deep breath, and let out a sigh. It was a reminder that grief was never separate from me, but walking with me.
The live band in the restaurant began to sing a familiar song. One that I loved, but suddenly the words hit differently this time. It was ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay. ‘Tears stream down on your face, when you lose something you cannot replace. Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you”
This was a message for me, and I believed it. Leah, had told me right after my Mum’s passing that she communicates with me through music, and there I was, feeling what I felt, and hearing what I heard. What a gift to receive, and to be reminded that although I felt alone, I was never alone. What a beautiful reminder that my real home is not outside of me, but within me.
I had spent 9 days in Ubud, but I was ready for a change. I craved the Ocean. I desired space, and quiet now. I wanted to feel the sand in my feet, a place with no traffic, and somewhere I could walk freely without navigating a busy street right now.
I felt a pull to Gili, just like I did to Ubud, but for different reasons. I am so grateful to every single part of my time in Ubud, no exception. For without it, I would not have been able to feel what I feel, and begin to heal on new levels.
I don’t know what to expect in Gili, but so far, my soul is responding to this stunning island in beautiful ways. I now understand that I was never supposed to be on the 4 day retreat with Blooming Lotus, I was supposed to be right here, in Gili.
I am ready to embrace and embody my time here, with no expectations or attachments.