When I came back from my trip, I spent a lot of time reflecting and journaling. This is one of the posts I wrote:
This trip was so special. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about doing for two years now. I would dream about it while on bed rest. But somehow once it approached, I just prepped for the trip like it was a normal trip. Even once I got there and was starting to travel, it didn’t hit that it was anything different than a normal trip. However, once I was meeting people and starting to share a bit about my story, I realized holy shit this is the trip. I’m on THE TRIP! I kept having ah ha moments throughout my entire three weeks of travel. I stayed in the moment and enjoyed every second of every day. I would think about Monday on Monday, instead of planning ahead for Friday. I stayed present and didn’t want to rush through my time abroad.
A couple of my favorite quotes from the trip: 1) my friends’ dad told me that I’m “always laughing. It’s like you’re high, but you’re not.” I got a little self conscious once I realized that I really was always laughing, but then I just owned it. I hadn’t laughed that much or that hard in years. And it just felt natural; I couldn’t help it. I was constantly smiling and constantly laughing. It felt like me. Like Caitlin was back and happier than ever. 2) a guy behind me in the customs line coming into Portugal started talking with me and after a few minutes told me that I “looked like a happy and nice person and that I showed a lot of joy in my eyes.” Right then I told myself I needed to write these quotes down from the strangers because they were really touching my heart. For the first time, I felt like how I was feeling on the inside was matching what was on the outside. So much so that strangers were even calling it out. I finally feel like I’m emanating joy. I feel so happy and light and free and apparently it’s also showing on the outside through my face, the joy in my eyes and also by my laugh. I realized that part of what made this trip so special was the two places I’d chosen to go. Portugal surprised me in how much I fell in love with it. The city spoke to me. I’ve seen a lot of Europe and other continents too for that matter, but Portugal really touched me. I’d love to live in that city and if I end up not, I am for sure going back to see the rest of the beautiful country. Then Morocco. I feel like I’ve basically been dead for the past two years. Maybe dead is a little too harsh of a word. But life paused for me. I was bed ridden for a period of time, I spent the better part of a year on crutches, I couldn’t use my body in the ways I was use to using it and I couldn’t live how I wanted to live. My senses went dormant. Until Morocco. I was on sensory overload, but it was such a blessing. Everything in my being woke up again. I came back to life. I felt things I hadn’t felt in so long. I smelled again. I heard again. I tasted in a new way. And I could see clearly. My eyes were wide open and so was my heart. I couldn’t have picked two better places to travel for my recovery trip. Needing to find myself again and celebrate where I’ve come from and what’s happened to me in the past two years, could only happen in a place like Morocco to reawaken my being. To truly feel human again and appreciate the senses. And then to feel connected to myself and to who I am and who I want to be and to spread love and feel love, was perfect in Portugal. That connection happened for me. So to those two special countries, I say thank you. I am alive. I am so happy. And I want to share my story and hopefully inspire others with it.
So, to other hippies out there or to people thinking about having these surgeries, you can do it. You will come back one day and most likely feel stronger and healthier both physically and mentally. These surgeries and recoveries will not break you as long as you don’t let them. I’m hear to tell you and to show you, that being on the other side of recovery is possible. A life full of love, laughter and adventure can be lived again and the recoveries do not have to define you. They are just a part of your story and help to make you YOU!