Raised By Inconsiderate Parents, It Was Travel Which Set Me Free: This Is How Travel Healed Me


Trigger warning : The contents of this article may disturb sensitive readers as it has reference to childhood trauma and mental abuse. It is advised that you proceed further with this caveat.

Photo of Raised By Inconsiderate Parents, It Was Travel Which Set Me Free: This Is How Travel Healed Me 1/4 by Rashmi Sharma

I always wanted to pen down a personal account of how I metamorphosed and shed my encapsulating shell of a skin! This would help me to organise my thoughts on why is travelling not a symbol of my status or a luxury, or an opportunity to make a fashion statement. Travelling saved me, it is like breathing-indespensable to survival I found the need to declutter my thoughts and have a crystal clear message to help anyone out there who is living in a black hole thinking there is no emancipation from the darkness they are in. Not only this, but the contents of this article are also an important lesson from me to my daughter and any unborn kids of the future.


I was born to a narcissist mother and an enabler(to my mother) father. I was born out of hate and was raised in it as well. As a victim of narcissism and my mother's self obsession, I was constantly belittled into believing that I was occupying space and resources better deserved by someone else. I was told and taught that my existence was parasitic and the fact that I have a roof over my head and food on my plate should be enough to keep me ingratiated and this is more than a parent is supposed to do. In more than 30 years of my life I have no memory of my parents smiling at me or giving me a compliment. In her own narcissistic way all of my mother’s affection was directed towards our house maid, who was not in any less agony but was at least better in status in that she won a ‘smile’ and a ‘beta’ every now and then. I felt the sadness and shock of being looked through owing to my non existent personality, being publicly humiliated by parents at the fore, family, teachers, classmates, any other members of the community since I was 5 years old. As I grew older I found my solution. Through my teenage years I decided to close down my heart and brain to protect myself from the feelings of loneliness, sadness, hopelessness, by believing that strength lies in accepting all of this with a head held high. I don’t have the things that I don’t have not because I didn’t get them but because I don’t need them. One can only imagine the broken adolescent that came out of all this. By the time I was in Class 12 I was sick of the constant gloom and ache in my hurt and I planned my future in a way that I never have to return to this place I called home ever again. Lacking any self respect or sense of entitlement what so ever I stepped into college only to experience another kind of pure hell for the next even more scarring 4 years of my life. I was victimised, bullied and abused in ways I don’t repeat even to my self, by a person senior to me. I have condensed 15 years of darkness into as small an account as I could. Getting into the niceties of everyday trauma is best left for another place and time.


I spent 20 years of my precious life in complete misery. An entire infrastructure of society, teachers, doctors (during any hospital visits), onlookers, relatives failed to notice the suffering and breaking down of a life and how could they? - when I needed saving from my own toxic parents. Getting into college and looking around me observing a world outside of the niche environment of my so called home, helped me see how I had been cheated. I was not a burden, I was not as bad as I had been made to believe. Something changed during the 3 rd year college after my heart and mind cried out and demanded care in the form of a neurological breakdown that needed medical intervention . I decided to turn my life around and be in charge. I felt victory in acknowledging for the first time in life that a problem exists and that I have to solve it!


My first travel was not for leisure, but for revolution. I weeded out all garbage from my life the day I finished under graduation . I have arrived world ! Screamed my mind as I landed at London Heathrow. I felt emancipated, it was like a weight, I never knew I was carrying had lifted off my head. London will always be special to me, travelling to London and thenceforth to where ever I went parented me. Taught and showed me things I wish my younger self was exposed to. Travelling is the mother of all that is wonderful! SHE taught me what I should have been taught when I drew my first breath. SHE stepped into parent mode, mentor mode, therapist mode and pulled off a miracle. It raised and gave birth to a happy self respecting person! Travelling comforted me, validated me and taught me to -


The only speck of anxiety that kept me up all night before my flight to London was what if I miss it. I was least bothered that no one is coming to see me off. My first flight out of my shell, it was overwhelming but the successful completion of this evolution gave me great confidence. All it takes to change your life is to be Brave enough to follow through. Don’t wait around to be rescued! The rewards are too sweet to procrastinate and exist in misery.


3 major acts of kindness that were a first for me and hence cannot be forgotten -

1. I wasn’t prepared for the small things like while filling the immigration forms I found myself wanting for a pen. I asked one person after running it through my head a couple of times and he calmly replied in the affirmative. I had never asked for help before. I had never been not been dismissed before. It was a revelation that if I ask I might receive!

2. During the long flight I had not moved at all neither to go to the restroom, nor to ask for anything. I had the centre isle seat and I wouldn’t dare to inconvenience someone for my needs. Whatever the hostess offered I took. After a few hours the person sitting next to me asked me if I wanted water. I said yes, (The word NO has taken its own time to become part of my vocabulary ), he called for the attendant and asked her to bring me water. On landing he said please use my phone to call and inform people back home that you have landed. I was too embarrassed to accept but he insisted and I made that call.

He offered help that I did not ask for . He was just generally sensitive and conscious of his surroundings.

3. The International student In-charge at UCL, London got me in touch with an Indian student who came to receive me at the Airport. She was happy and excited to see me, A first!. She gave me a hug. Another first! She bought me my first sandwich at the airport, she said, “you must be hungry.” She clicked my photograph at the airport and at the tube station emphasising on how special this first photograph is. She took care of my needs. MY NEEDS! I had milestones and they were important enough to be embalmed. My parents had engrained in me a sense of being a burden who didn’t deserved a celebration of any kind. They said become worthy so that people feel like celebrating you. This girl holds a very important place in my life. She inspired me to be to this for a new student one day, my time came and I did!

Photo of Raised By Inconsiderate Parents, It Was Travel Which Set Me Free: This Is How Travel Healed Me 2/4 by Rashmi Sharma
Photograph clicked on my first day in London


You are as beautiful as you want to be. Happy girls are the prettiest, said some one wise. All my life I kept finding reasons behind all the hate I received. I thought my parents don’t like my face, that is why all the effort in changing my complexion. I received my first complements in London. From my hostel mates. From my classmates. From strangers I met while clubbing . Never Ever had I received any kind of positive attention from anyone in India ever. My heart was changing I was changing with every passing experience.

Receive compliments with humility, don't stop yourself from paying honest compliments, it can truly make some one’s day - is a valued lesson I learnt.


I was in awe of my American friend. She had a shine to her. True personification of Bold, Intelligent, Independent, beautiful. The master of her own life. I wished I was her. I wished I was like that. I knew that if I became her I would never be unhappy!

All I had ever heard was - learn to cook because you are a girl, learn to clean, learn to shut up and listen, my father would lecture me almost everyday since I was a kid on how the husband is the master of the house and how he should be respected at all costs. He went to the extent of justifying how if you are beyond control what choice does a husband have but to raise his hand.

And here this larger than life girl gave me the gift of her friendship. She healed me. She inspired me. She respected me. She never made me feel like I am a lesser person. I was always very guarded ashamed of what a sorry state my inner self was in. But she was untiringly good. She was a good happy beautiful person. I listened to her ideas. She was very global in her thinking. She was not restricted to some box or boundaries. She did her under graduation from Australia, Masters in London, PhD in Germany, currently working in Vietnam and is a proud home owner of a mobile mini home that heavily decreases her enviornmental footprint . She used to say she wants to end up in Hong Kong because that city has a good quality of life and it will make her happy. BAM! Went my brain, ‘Make me happy, quality of life’! YES YES That is also what I want. How did she know?

Ever since then how do I decide wether to do or not to do something; I ask my self 2 questions - Will it improve the quality of my life? Will it make me happy?


In this new fresh life my worries and my ugly roots were a thing that belonged to the rotten past that no longer had any power over me. London was far-far away. I felt like a speck and the realisation that there was a world and issues bigger than me gave me relief. The people who abused their place in my life were a small, petty and forgotten part of this world. My life is meaningful and far too important to feel suicidal and depressed. I cannot get enough of the ‘ecstatic high’ I feel when I travel.


A strange unpleasant tendency to second guess every answer I wrote during an exam had grown as a by product of how everything was. It was an uneasy feeling and made things more difficult. It was so bad that I often rubbed off the correct answer to write the wrong one solely on the pretext that because the correct answer came to my mind instinctively it had to be wrong. I fared poorly in my first term exams at my course in London University.

The course co-ordinator called me to discuss my exam result. My poor exam result, in which I had not cleared certain subjects. She asked me to close the door as my review was private and to stand behind the computer screen since the marks of other students were on the screen too and they were Confidential. She spoke so softly that I had to strain my ears hard. She counselled me, asked me if I needed help, if I was facing any difficulties whatsoever. I tried to be present and answer all her questions. But in that moment I was having the most life altering pleasant experience of my life. She showed me what personal boundaries meant, she proved to me that I too was deserving of respect, One failure is not the end of the world-you have the power to change it with Hard Work, I deserved the space I was occupying in this world I just had to realise it and treat it like a special gift. And this meeting with Rosemary Smith is all it took to lift the curse! I was instantly treated of the second guessing syndrome. I studied and studied at the British Library in Central London to bag 80% marks not just in my final exams but also my thesis and poster presentation. She was so proud of me. I had never heard anyone say they are proud of me until that day.

Photo of Raised By Inconsiderate Parents, It Was Travel Which Set Me Free: This Is How Travel Healed Me 3/4 by Rashmi Sharma
Graduation- University of London

I was amazed at discovering this new way of handling my failure by a person in a superior position. Where was the vulgar announcement of marks? the bold display of prejudice of the teacher? And the noise that my parents made publicly on how they were cursed to have me? Off course they did nothing to ensure my wellbeing which in turn affected my performance.

I know for a fact that in order to have a more enriching experience and if you have 2-3 days to spare one must consider enrolling in a short workshop, volunteer work, a short course - baking, ice skating, language , diving , etc. Even if it is for a very short period it will make you feel part of a new system. It will give you a chance to connect a tad bit deeper with a new society and new people.

I have healed with every plunge I took as a traveller. I am a new person today, I owe it to the poor little girl who yearned for help , to never give up. Travelling has taught me how important it is to take care of yourself first, be kind to yourself, cut yourself some slack, only then can you stand up for what is right , only then can you be kind to others. On observing people living in the mountains or in the deserts you learn to value nature and the resources that we have access to so conveniently in the plains. People residing in tougher climates and tougher terrains are more sensitive to their surroundings, more considerate towards each other. I have seen more humanity in their hearts. It’s like they realise the value of another human, animals, water, nature and everything more.

Photo of Raised By Inconsiderate Parents, It Was Travel Which Set Me Free: This Is How Travel Healed Me 4/4 by Rashmi Sharma


If you feel like you are in a slump and know that mentally you are not at your best - remember ALL YOU NEED IS A MOVE on in LIFE! Don’t be in cruise mode take charge make an itinerary, do your bookings or go back packing whatever is your style and see it though. You will return victorious and happy! There is no such place as heaven or hell, everyone carries their own heaven and their own hell in their hearts and minds!