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When I told people I was returning to Thailand, it brought a smile. They said words like “closure”, “going full circle”, “facing the past”. It was considered a brave journey, fitting neatly into the narrative of how best to heal one’s wounds – to go through the fire and come out lighter and brighter on the other side. It was seen as a good idea.
That idea burned as I approached Koh Phangan. A decade since I received that call, and every urge within my body was screaming “You must get out”. “Don’t get off the boat. Go back. You’re trapped”. My mind tried to calm the body’s wails but the unease was buried deep. Like memories carried by scent, place is a pungent trigger.
The days passed on the island and among them were golden moments – smiles, laughter and joy – but the current of discomfort held its ground.
I faced it. I reasoned with it. I felt it. I let it be. I sat with it, held its hand and breathed through its buoying fear.
It did not leave me alone, but grew branches of a different shape. I did not have to fear the same fate. I would not receive that call – my Mum no longer around to return to. The now is worse than before. The closure does not come. You cannot cure a death.
Stories don’t always come in circles.
Have you had any experiences like this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.