In all honesty, I applied to move to Thailand almost as an act of rebellion at first.
I had two years of high school stolen from me by my abusive boyfriend. My teenage fun – all that stuff that happens in the movies – wasn’t a reality or even a possible reality for me. My youth, my innocence, and my freedom was taken from me when I was under the tight control of my abuser. He made my decisions. He chose what I liked and didn’t like. He dictated who surrounded me. He tore me down to break me up again. He destroyed everything that was me. If he didn’t approve, it wasn’t in the cards for me.
Once I was free from his spell, I cut him completely from my life. I started with a fresh, clean slate. I felt like I was being reborn into a brand new life. As I saw the world from a whole different perspective – my own two eyes, instead of through his – I wanted to try everything. I wanted to experience every little thing I missed out on while I was in that deep, dark hole. I wanted my life back. So I took it back. I decided to choose myself. I chose to listen to my needs. I chose to take care of my body and my spirit. I chose to find my passions. And I chose to follow my dreams endlessly. And it landed me here.
When a friend of mine half jokingly, half seriously asked if I wanted to apply to move to Thailand with her, I immediately was all in. This was just what I needed. It was a way to show my abuser that I was capable of doing big things in this world. That I had a voice, a strength, a power of my own. That he did not control me any longer, all the while simultaneously showing myself that those same things were possible and true. It was me rebelling from his grasp and control over me and my life. That’s the reason I researched and sent in that application. I didn’t tell my parents, or anyone, because of that fact. I waited to see if I got accepted. I did. Then, I got interviewed. Twice. So I panicked and told my parents – who laughed and were a bit skeptical about how I was going to pull this off. There I was, a broke seventeen year old girl freshly out of a severely abusive relationship with intense anxiety, panic attacks, deep depression, trauma, and multiple suicide attempts, not asking, but telling her parents she was moving across the world in half a year…it didn’t sound too appealing to anyone close willing to listen. But once my heart is set on something, there really is no stopping me. I had to show them that I was capable of doing this. That I could be my own person. I needed to do something for me. And I so badly wanted to do this. I needed to. It felt like an act of survival. In order to heal from this horror, I needed to find myself again. I needed to follow my heart’s desires. I needed to experience the world. I needed to finally become independent and do things on my own without my abuser, without my parents, without my circle of comfort.
So, I worked my ass off to get myself here. Every area of my life needed a bit of help before I could just move away to another country.
I immediately got a job. I worked extra hours. I came in early. I stayed later. I took on large projects. I worked to the best of my abilities and I never quit the dedication and hard work. I was the person who filled that position longer than anyone had before; previous people had ended up getting fired. I took on small side jobs. Little pockets of cash here and there wherever I could find it. If I wanted to travel, I needed money and I wasn’t going to get that from my parents. Either way, I didn’t want it from my parents. I needed to do this for myself. I paid the deposit. I paid for the passport. I paid for the insurance. I paid the monthly checks. I paid all the fees thrown my way in order to get myself in this program. I needed to pay the fees but I also needed lots of extra spending money to get myself around while abroad. I saved up every last penny and here I am with more than enough. And it has never felt so spectacular to spend money on anything but this.
But I didn’t just need to work hard for money. I needed to work hard on my mental and emotional health in order to be trusted to do this alone. My therapist, my psychiatrist, my parents – I had to get them to believe and know with a surety that I was capable of doing this. But I was in a place that you could call rock bottom when I made the decision to apply. I felt broken. I felt defeated. I felt hopeless. I was spinning directionless with no personal compass pointing me how to get out. But I fought. I stared that depression right in the face. I wrestled with the anxiety. I let my trauma teach me. I went to therapy appointment after therapy appointment. I read book after book on mental health, on abuse, on healing, on bettering yourself. I listened to all the self help gurus through podcasts, workshops, coaching, and social media. I listened. I educated myself. I soaked it all in. And I applied it to myself. I did the inner work. And through that healing, I found something I was passionate about it. I found my purpose. I found that I had a voice and I wanted to speak my truth.
My psychiatrist told me that she has never seen someone turn their life around so quickly, having seen the things I had gone through. I made huge amounts of progress in such little time. She told me I had learned and applied concepts that grown adults haven’t understood nor applied to their lives yet. I was dedicated to my personal growth and improvement. No one was in my way anymore. I had purpose behind all of it. I needed to be stable enough to move. To leave the country. To do things on my own for once.
As soon as I could function as a human, I had to work at being an adult human. I couldn’t rely on my parents for everything anymore. I was completely and utterly dependent on my parents during the dark depths of my depression. I couldn’t even eat a single meal unless they made it and forced me to eat it. I wouldn’t take my meds unless they handed out my single dose for the day. I didn’t have access to my own car keys unless I was passed off as stable enough. In that state, I would never leave the house. But I didn’t want to stay in that place. I needed to spread my wings and fly far away. So I had a lot of growing up to do. I had to show them that I could function as an adult in society. So I created a method to track and save my money. I started paying for my own gas and car bills when my car broke. I made sure I was getting three meals a day even if I needed to go out to buy myself something. If I wanted to travel on my own, I had to figure it out. In the past, when I traveled outside of the country, it was with my parents and my dad did all of the behind the scenes work. But there I was, turning in my documents to get my visas approved, passport photos taken, registering with a foreign embassy, checking vaccinations, power of attorney documents, researching my new home – the list seemed endless. I had lists upon lists of everything I needed to buy, everything I needed to bring, and everything I needed to do before I left. I was prepared so thoroughly that nerves were hardly even a thing. I felt like an adult. I felt so confident in my decision. By this point, I knew I was capable of doing big things like this.
So here I am. Almost a month into living in Thailand and I could not be happier. I did it. I got myself here. I am doing it.
When you see those pretty pictures from my time in the land of Thai, just know that they have a backstory. I have a backstory. It wasn’t an easy breezy journey getting to where I am. But I am here.