Facing my Shadow in Bali

I’m currently at the beach sitting on a bean bag and staring at the beautiful ocean watching surfers ride the waves, and while people next to me are sipping beers and coconuts, I felt the call to write, so here we go…

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current situation

I arrived in Bali 3 days ago. I had a long travel journey. We left Rishikesh at 6 am to drive the 6-7 hours it takes to get to Delhi. Once in Delhi, we had plans to go out for chai and meet one of Mandy’s friends. My flight wasn’t until 11 pm that night so we had plenty of time, but I had a really heavy backpack (need to figure out what to do about that when I get to Thailand, lol) and didn’t feel like lugging it around, so it ended up perfectly that her friend was busy and couldn’t pick us up and we didn’t feel like traipsing through Delhi by ourselves, so we settled in on a nice piece of hard airport floor and chilled for the next 8 hours. It actually passed by quickly in between talking with each other, me reading, eating samosas and chai from the only food nearby and just chilling.

I then took an overnight flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had just enough time to not eat because they had no vegetarian options (and I’m trying to keep this thing going for as long as possible) so I bought some traditional Malaysian cake and boarded my flight to Bali.

I landed in Denpasar and immediately felt like I was in Hawaii and was feeling grateful that I went to Hawaii for the first time and Bali all in the same year. Bless UP 2019!

I was surprised how easy the visa process is – they didn’t even ask me any questions, just stamped my passport and let me through.

I got a taxi immediately after I left and made my way to my AirBnB in Canggu.

I was feeling good and looking around and thinking “Bali and I are gonna be juuuuust fine”.

I had a good feeling about this place immediately and after being in India for the last month where everything is dusty and dirty and smelly, Bali seemed like a Western dream from my island heaven.

I got to my villa and was happy to see a king sized bed and a nice pool just like they had in the pictures. I hadn’t eaten anything at this point in over 24 hours so I knew after a shower I needed to go find some food.

I asked the lady who checked me in if I could walk to the beach from here and she kinda smiled nervously at me and said no…

wait, how far was this place from the beach? On the maps it looked so close!

I checked my phone and saw that it was over 2.5 miles away – about an hour long walk…

umm, how was I supposed to get around?

She told me about an app called “Grab” (like Uber) that I could try, so I downloaded it and was able to find a driver who picked me up on his scooter.

I routed him to one of the cafes I had seen on Instagram – the Shady Shack and arrived there, feeling a bit bewildered but excited to try the famous coconuts you see so popular in Bali. I had a nice meal of a coconut and a Japanese rice bowl complete with ginger and tofu.

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After, I walked to the beach to watch the sunset and listened to live music. I was living the dream, but in reality I was feeling really lost and alone.

I felt all discombobulated in this new, foreign place and was surrounded by people who looked cooler and hotter than me, either girlfriends gathering or couples or families and I felt so out of place being here, alone.

What was I thinking? Who comes to Bali alone?

“its hard being in a place where people vacation together and being alone” – I texted my boyfriend, longing for his presence or for my family and our vacation in Hawaii earlier this year.

I tried to call a Grab back to my villa but had no wifi, so I wandered into hotels and restaurants asking if I could hop onto their wifi to call someone.

They told me that Grab was illegal and wouldn’t pick up here and I had to take a local taxi. I had heard the dangers of taking local taxi’s because they upcharge you 1 million percent as a tourist, but at this point I was just like please take me home.

100,000 rupiah later (about $7 when it usually costs .70 cents), I made it back to my villa and it started setting in that I was really alone.

I knew nobody in this country. I had just come from a month of being surrounded every waking minute by beautiful souls and now I ended up here in paradise, alone.

Nobody knew where I was or could save me if something bad happened.

I had no idea if this place was safe. I hated that it wasn’t walking distance to the beach or the cute cafes. I didn’t know how I was going to get groceries. I had nothing to eat except for some old nuts in my room and the Malaysian cake from the airport.

I cried, a body shaking sob. I couldn’t even call anyone at home yet, not my mom or my boyfriend since it was still too early in the states.

What on earth were you thinking, Ley? I thought. I just wanna go back home. How am I gonna survive 3 weeks of this?

The next morning, I woke up and knew food was of my utmost concern. Thankfully, there was a grocery store only 10 min walking distance so I hauled myself to the store and started picking out things familiar to me – eggs and bread, oatmeal, pasta, bananas, mangoes, and dragonfruit.

I got back to the villa and even though part of me wanted to go exploring immediately, I knew I had to take it slow and rest for the day to figure out my emotional shiz and just take a day to do nothing since I had been going nonstop since the last I could remember.

Doing “nothing” all day, brought up soo many things for me.

I felt so lonely and alone. The irony of being in PARADISE aka Bali a place I had been dreaming about for so long and finally I was here and I felt miserable was not lost on me.

I knew the feeling would pass, but I was innnn it.

I tried to do anything to make myself feel better.

Meditate. Couldn’t sit for more than 2 minutes. Yoga. Could only get myself to do half of a sun salutation. Reading. Could only read one page. Movies. Bought the matrix since I wanted to re-watch it because our philosophy professor told us to and couldn’t take the violence and darkness.

The only thing I could numb myself out with was scrolling mindlessly on social media – losing myself in the external world of others so I didn’t have to face what was going on inside.

I had no idea what I was going to fill my time with for 3 weeks. I have been craving this type of freedom for this entire year if not longer and finally I had a day of doing nothing and I couldn’t bare to be alone and just be with myself.

I had written in my journal earlier at the Delhi airport about how as soon as I got to India I didn’t have the homesickness/achey feeling at all during my time there. As soon as I landed, I felt comfortable and at home. The people I met felt like family.

And now, the homesicky feeling was back. This time, in Bali.

I spent that entire day feeling miserable. At some point, I read an article by Vienda Maria which inspired me to start writing, so I started working on the 4th installment of the recap of my yoga teacher training, but I couldn’t get past a few paragraphs.

Nothing was working.

So, I just kept trying to remind myself that I deserved this rest and that it was okay to do nothing even though everything was screaming at me that my whole life was going to be like this and I was never going to amount to anything and would be lonely like this forever.

I wanted to go back “home” but it hit me that I had nothing to go back home to. My life was in flux, I no longer had the job or the place I called home and even though this was all by my design I started to freak out about it and didn’t even know what I wanted anymore.

I cried several more times throughout the day. I went to bed only after doing a yoga nidra put me to sleep.

I had signed up for a surfing lesson the next morning at 9 am so I was grateful to have something on the agenda so I didn’t have to face the impending doom of “nothingness’ again all day.

The instructor picked me up and we made our way down to Batu Balong beach. It was early and he commented “your place is far” and I lamented the fact again that I had chosen such a faraway place.

I’m such an independent person so having to depend on rides on an app everywhere I go was killing me. I like to walk and go however I please. I looked into changing my accommodation, but the rate I have here is lower than all of the other places and even if I chose a place closer, in order to cancel my original booking, I would only get a 50% refund, so either way I was losing money and spending more money.

I wanted to change so badly thinking being in a hostel would be better (even though I specifically chose this place because I wanted to have my solitude) and just kept telling myself, just give it a week, ley, just a week and then you can change if you still want to.

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Anyways, I wasn’t really feeling up for surfing. I was still hungry from not eating that much the day before, and hadn’t had time to drink any water and it was already super hot. The instructor took me out to the water and we tried many times to get up on the board.

Paddling was taking so much of my effort and I just wasn’t really feeling up to it. I didn’t have the strength in me.

It was still fun to be in the water and I did stand up a few times, but at one point I was just like, dude I don’t want to have to work this hard. I’d rather be boogie boarding or chilling on the beach, I don’t want to have to race to get closer to my instructor every time the sea pushes me our further than him, i just wanna chilll…

I started to feel really bad about myself because I was like – wait do I just give up on things too easily? Why do I not care enough? I have this very laid back attitude of “life is meant to be easy so why make it harder than it has to be” so when something is too “hard” I don’t push or force, I just give up. I started to feel like this was the wrong approach and was beating up on myself.

Finally, the semi fun torture was over and he took me back home.

I wanted to check out some of the local yoga studios so I signed up to do a yoga nidra class at a studio nearby the beach. Again, I had to call a Grab and made it to the studio for class.

The yoga studio was beautiful and I felt a little bit more at home in this spiritual atmosphere. I was feeling better, but would occasionally get hits of the loneliness and the “what the fuck am I doing here”.

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After the class, I walked to another yoga studio where they were having ecstatic dance and stopped at their cafe to eat.

I looked around at the other women (and a few men) who were attending the dance and again felt so inadequate. Everyone was tall, beautiful, and skinny from Australia and I was like what am I doing here.

But then, the dance started. and it was all about drawing inward and letting your body feel the music and just letting go and releasing and doing whatever you feel like. being in flow.

I had so much fun on that dance floor.

I allowed myself to go crazy when I wanted to go crazy. I let myself cry when I wanted to cry. I jumped up and down when I wanted to. I stood still when I wanted to. I pounded the floor and screamed and let out aggression and fear and anger and sadness and joy and laughter and humanity and connection.

I feel comfortable in these settings and don’t have any self consciousness of what other people think of me, so it was the perfect form of release for me.

After, I could have stayed to chat with people, but I wasn’t feeling up to it which brought up more questions for me like “why am I such a loser”, “do I have social anxiety” and just judging myself because you always hear about half the fun in traveling is meeting people, but in reality, I don’t really feel the need to meet anyone.

I’ve been craving this solo trip for months. I’ve been craving solitude and being by myself, since in my normal life I am surrounded by people 100% of the time.

I’m not against meeting people, but I place an enormous amount of pressure on myself to “do traveling right” and constantly question myself if I’m doing it right or doing enough.

I’m also noticing my incessant need to “be productive”

I envisioned spending my days here of me writing in cafes, writing my memoir or my next poetry book or building my business and launching a course or something, but now my mantra is “I find the flow in each moment”.

I’m trying to let go of the “shoulds” of what I think I “should be doing” and just focusing on finding flow in present. Letting whatever happens, happen.

I keep telling myself: “I don’t need to “show” anything for my alone time in bali for 3 weeks. I don’t need to write an entire book. I don’t need to launch a course. I don’t need to do anything. All i need to do is be”

This is so much easier said than done. I fought with myself in mental anguish the first two days, but today, on the third day, I’m feeling more in flow. More at ease. More just doing whatever I want to do and not feeling guilty for it, and that’s why I’ve found myself typing out this blog post watching the sunset on the beach with just me, myself and I and finally feeling good. feeling happy, and feeling in love with life.

I am learning this in practice and it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. All this, combined with the immense amount of guilt for even FEELING THESE FEELINGS when I am in Bali of all places.

Like hello, reality check?!

Which I’m aware of, but when you’re IN it all you can do is give yourself the space to feel the feelings without any judgement.

I’m already feeling loads better (which is why I’m sharing now) and actually enjoying all my alone time and have a good feeling about the rest of my time here, but just wanted to share some of the darker/shadowy stuff.

I’m taking it slow…allowing myself to spend time reading, swimming when I feel like it, naked yoga whenever I want, meditating, writing when I feel called to and not when I feel like I “should”, going to cafes when I want and not feeling the need to share it with the world, being at the beach when I want and not feel like I have to be at the beach every single minute of every single day in order to “do it right” (seriously where my brain goes to)

Thanks for reading ❤

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