"At that exact moment I knew it was time for me to return to the person that I, my friends and my family loved me for. And I needed a challenge, a big one."
Travel is my thing and there's nothing I love more than the freedom of being on the road and immersing myself in the culture of the country I'm exploring. Heading to South America on a one way ticket – being a continent I've wanted to explore for years – you can only imagine the levels of excitement I was feeling.
Fast forward five months and I was on the streets of Buenos Aires having escaped a three month relationship with an incredibly manipulative and emotionally abusive person. The fear never left my body, and the panic attacks hit frequently leaving me in a total state of terror. I knew it was time to come home.
The first few months back in New Zealand were once again full of fear; fear that he would find me and hurt me. And fear that the confident, vivacious and courageous person who flew to South America only five short months ago would never return.
It was a daunting and hard few months as I stumbled through the weeks, desperate to get some form of normality back in my life. Then one morning I came across a social media post that resonated with me deeply: "You are offered a new opportunity with each breath to think, choose, decide and act differently in a way that supports you in being all that you are capable of being. You are enough".
At that exact moment I knew it was time for me to return to the person that I, my friends and my family loved me for. And I needed a challenge, a big one. One that would test me physically, mentally and emotionally. And just like that I found myself in Picton ready to cycle 1200km to Bluff, at the very southern tip of the South Island.
Day two of this adventure was exceptionally liberating; for 40kms in a quiet section of road I battled hard against a wind that resisted my every move to push forward. It was relentless. And cycling along this barren back-road the isolation and vulnerability hit me, just as it had done on the streets of Argentina. Instead of ignoring it, I embraced it. I let it sit with me and reminded myself that it’s only I who can decide how this affects me; be afraid and withdraw, or embrace it, feel it and move forward regardless. I chose the latter.
A few days later I was standing in a campground at the beginning of what would be a 115km cycle, the longest day I'd have on the road. I was aching all over, I was tired and I was daunted by the challenge ahead of me. I cycled hard to cover as much distance as I could in the crisp morning air. My backside started to ache, and I began to lose the strength in my hand due to the constant vibration of the handlebars. I told myself over and over again "you can do this, you are doing this". And I can only tell you how proud I felt when seven hours later, I rolled in to Christchurch. I'd done it. And more importantly, I'd reminded myself again that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
Whether you're in an abusive relationship or are unhappy with your life, I urge you to do something about it. Explore what sets your soul on fire and pursue it with the fiercest passion. Because one day you'll look back on what feels like an incredibly hard patch in your life and appreciate that it showed you that you are stronger than you think, braver than you feel and more capable than you can ever imagine.
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