My First Solo Trip – Italy (Part 1)

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

– John Augustus Shedd 

This was it. It was finally time. After months of planning, researching, and dreaming, I was about to embark on an adventure that I had been craving and needing for years now. Not just a typical “vacation” to get away, although, yes, this stay at home mommy was needing a break, but that was not the purpose or intent of this trip. I was about to set sail (or hop a plane) and was about to leave behind my safe harbor. I was about to take my first ever solo trip. Across the world. Thousands of miles away. Away from my family. My comforts. My what had become to me….my “lifelines.” 

I needed to go on this trip. My SOUL needed it more than anything. 

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my soon to be solo trip. I briefly mentioned that there were reasons as to why I needed to go on this solo venture, but I did not explain why I was doing this. 

I feel like the “why” is important. Sometimes we don’t even know why. Often times, for me, to travel is simply because it makes me feel alive. It’s intoxicating. Exhilarating. 

Maybe some of you who have gone on a solo trip can understand. Your “why” might not be the same as mine, but in some way I can almost guarantee that you can relate on some level. Maybe you’ve gone through something really difficult in your life, as I had. 

A few years ago, after my husband Josh and I had our first baby, I experienced something very painful and scary. A month after our daughter was born, I was completely blindsided by postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. It rocked and shook our world. It was a traumatic time – a mountain that I didn’t think I was going to be able to conquer. Thankfully, I owe my healing that I finally found, I owe that to God. But I also know that my husband was crucial in my healing. He fought alongside me and held up the sword in battle when my arms became too heavy. He is indeed my hero. He never abandoned me. I thank God for him. Because of this painful time, although the PPD “only” lasted about 4 months, it became a life changing experience for both Josh and I. Looking back now, we see how it changed our marriage. When you go through a battle with someone, there is a bond, a comradeship, that you can’t ever fully put into words. It ended up being a beautiful thing for our marriage, and our love for each other grew tenfold. 

My family and friends were there for me and helped me get through my darkest days. 

And so, after going through something so intense, traumatic, and painful … after that event is over, you find yourself still reeling after it’s over. You find that yes, good things DID come from something so terrible. 

But, my friends, it also leaves you feeling wounded. Damaged. Broken. Traumatized. Fearful. 

Perhaps you have experienced an event in your life where it left you feeling this way. If you have, I am truly sorry. It is not easy to move on after such a trying time . . . but, along the way, I’ve learned that, no matter what, we have to keep moving forward. 

PPD lied to me while I was in the thick of it, and it has also lied to me since finding my “healing”. It’s been a journey. 

One of the lies it made me believe is that I failed. I malfunctioned. 

But something I kept noticing in my journaling, is that it made me feel like I was incapable. 

And so, in a way, I felt like I needed to do something to challenge myself . . . almost to prove to myself again that I AM CAPABLE. That I am not weak, but, that I am strong. 

Taking myself completely out of my comfort zone and challenging myself to the very core . . . traveling by myself, across the vast ocean, to a foreign country to a land where I did not speak the language . . . yep, that sounded like just the challenge I needed. 

I needed to believe in myself again. 

So, I chose Italy. 

And here it was. Time to go. April 9th, 2018. Departure day. 

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I have struggled quite a bit with anxiety since going through PPD, and it’s a struggle that comes and goes. And so, I had had my doubts, and shed several tears in the days leading up to my solo trip to Italy. All the ‘What If’s’ that played in my head were beyond count. And so many times, I even said out loud to Josh, “I can’t do this. Let’s just cancel the trip.” 

Don’t cancel the trip!

It was a Monday, and my husband drove me to DFW. Along the way, I was debating whether or not I wanted him to come inside with me and help me get checked in for my flight. Part of me wanted him there to help me with at least this part, and to be with me for as long as possible, but I also knew that this might make saying goodbye even harder – it would prolong the goodbye. 

At the last minute, I told him to just go ahead and drop me off. This was one of the best decisions I made for this trip. Josh had suggested that it might be even more helpful for me if I do this whole thing ALL by myself, even from the checking in point. And even in that moment, as I hugged him tightly beside our car at the curb of the airport, I felt a courage fill me to my core. Was I scared? Nervous. Oh yes! But I had a belief that I could do this. And what a feeling that is that we must cling to when we do believe in ourselves! Those moments are so important. 

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I waved goodbye, and walked in the airport, and thus began the start of my solo journey. 

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