It’s mad, isn’t it? It’s mad that sometimes, it takes getting lost to find yourself again...
It would seem that little shards of my soul are still scattered around Europe.
I have been in Malta less than 12 hours but I already feel cleansed by unexpected clarity.
So here I am in Malta – my first solo trip in just over five years. So much has changed since that plucky little 21 year old said f this and upped and left everything she knew to embark upon a life changing solo expedition around Europe.
After the preceding years of travelling with somebody else and then two years of Covid restrictions making holidays near impossible, I was apprehensive about my trip to Malta. I was worried that I might have lost confidence, or that my love affair with solo travel might have died a death.
I needn’t have worried. It’s honestly as if nothing has changed. Despite a very shitty few months and some very big decisions playing on my mind, since arriving in Malta, I feel like that 21 year old version of myself again: fearless and ferociously determined.
Adulthood has a cruel and cunning way of sending us on a concourse to failure as we step on the never ending treadmill of the rat race. Unbeknown to us until it is too late, this strips away great chunks of our personality, happiness and hope, until we struggle to remember the person we once were. I have fallen victim to this recently, but I have discovered a miracle cure in Malta.
Malta has been on my agenda for many years. My Dad was born on the island and my Grandparents lived in Sliema.
It’s just nice to feel a million miles away from home and all of the crap that comes with it. It’s refreshing to wander around a place where no one knows your name or your business. Getting away from the oppression of the lives we have unwittingly made for ourselves is revitalizing.
I have spent the afternoon getting wonderfully, intentionally lost in Valletta. I walked down every single twist and turn I could find until I found myself at one with the beating heart of the city.
And what a city. In a few short hours, Valletta has breathed the life back into me. I’ve eaten, I’ve people watched, I’ve shopped, I’ve explored, I’ve marvelled, and for a blissful hour of sheer perfection, I simply sat in the centre of the old city and wrote, the foreign voices a nostalgic melody of pure ecstasy to my ears.
I’ve had a lot of time to think and reflect today, about the past, my current situation and what it is that I want from my future. I had an epiphany. We really need to stop seeing the end of relationships as ‘failures.’ If you leave a relationship that wasn’t right for you, it doesn’t mean either of you have ‘failed,’ it just means that you gave it a go and you weren’t quite the right fit for each other at that moment in time. That doesn’t mean that you’re not a great fit for somebody else! I believe that you take something from every relationship you have; life in general is a massive learning curve, and relationships are no different.
We have the capacity to change who we are daily, and we are constantly growing and evolving. So for every person we have the capability of being, there are hundreds of others also finding out who they are and who they want to be. Any one of their personas might link with any one of ours. A lot of it is down to fate, but it is true: you find the one when you stop looking and start doing the things you love.
To conclude, (and apologies to anyone who thought this was going to be a travel blog about Malta 🤣) relationship breakdowns should be celebrated! You have learned a lot about yourself and others, and you are now free to use that knowledge and seek someone better suited to the person you currently feel like being. Woohoo! Honestly, I’m just so sick of relationship breakdowns presenting as a taboo or a loose thread of gossip.
And sometimes relationships end to give us time to work on the most important relationship of all… The relationship we have with ourselves. I didn’t realise how much I had been neglecting myself and my inner gut feelings until I arrived in Malta. ❤
Recently, I watched the film Eat, Pray, Love. Julie Roberts plays Liz, the main character, and I find her so unbelievably relatable. In one of the opening scenes, Liz’s friend details her desire to become a mother, and confides in Liz that she has been adding to a ‘baby box’ for years in anticipation. Liz replies that she has a similar box, but her’s is full of National Geographic magazines.
I’m well aware that the majority of my friends are on very different paths to me right now. Sometimes I feel guilty for not wanting children and I question as to whether there’s something wrong with me. For a lot of my friends, a baby is the ultimate dream. I mean, it’s a woman’s natural instinct to want children, right?
I just don’t. Maybe in 10 years time I will feel differently, but right now, I am enjoying getting to know myself again. There is no company I would rather keep than my own. I have to remind myself not to compare my life to anybody else’s. I have to do what makes me happy, and I’m pretty chilled as long as my existence includes a hefty dollop of writing, running and travelling.
I have missed out on two years worth of travelling and I’m keen to make up ground because truly, it really is medicine for my soul. Getting acquainted with solo travel again is where I’m at right now, and I cant see this priority changing any time soon.
Everybody seeks emotional contentment and fulfilment in different ways, and there is no right or wrong answer. Your path is your own – tread it proudly.
When I first travelled solo, I was desperate for a boyfriend. Well actually, I don’t think I was – I think I was just desperate for the reassurance that I would one day have one. I think I knew deep down that I would struggle in a relationship. As an only child, I have always been very self-sufficient and happy in my own company, and I couldn’t see anybody really coming along and changing a habit of a lifetime.
I’m glad I experienced a relationship and marriage, because it has instilled in me what I already suspected: happily, I’m meant to be a lone wolf.
Some people recharge and thrive in the company of others, whereas I find it so mentally exhausting. When I’m alone, I feel inspired, confident and sure of the direction my life is headed. When I’m alone, I am the very best version of myself, because I am free from the white-noise of others.
This evening, I actually had a date! A date with myself.
I reserved a table for one at swanky restaurant 59 Republic in Valletta and my God, you know somewhere is posh when they give you lemon sorbet in a shot glass to ‘cleanse your pallet’ before the main course.
I felt very out of place in my Shein Kids special co-ord!!
I’d studied the menu beforehand and couldn’t choose out of three starters, so my plan was to just ask for all three and forgo a main...
No chance. No way on God’s earth was I going to sit there at an actual candlelit table and say, “Actually, forget the tender stem linguine dusted with fresh, Gozo grown rosemary – can I just have the halloumi fries and vegan sausage instead?!”
I refuse to be that person – that British person who goes abroad and disgraces the local culinary talents.
So I ended up having a vegan sausage starter with a pumpkin risotto for my main. I feel pregnant with twins.
I came home and ate a bag of Bombay Mix. You can take the girl out of the North...
Also, I think I unnerved the waiting staff. I noticed that they kept huddling round one another and nodding nervously at my notebook on the table. Then they’d appear behind me with more breadsticks, calling me ‘Miss Cara.’
If only they knew that my notebook literally just consisted of a load of ramblings about vegan sausage.
Food has been a big part of today. Holidays can be immensely triggering for my anorexia, as they take me away from my usual routine and foods. However, today the fear seems to have spared me. Eating without the fear when it’s all you’ve known for the past eight years is a miraculous revelation.
Today has thrown me a lifeline is so many ways.
Today, I feel like Cara again.
Taking myself out for a date! ❤