• Barbara Murphy-Shannon

Australia Chapter 4 -Flashback

We ended up dancing until 1 am. I had such a good time…but I was pretty hungover too. We decided to go to Manly Beach and go surfing (I attempted and it wasn’t pretty). We stayed until 5 pm then went back to the hostel. John joined Beth and me for dinner in our room. We all watch a slide show about the tour I’m going on tomorrow “Rob’s Outback Tour.” It’s a 14-day tour of the outback visiting different sites and experiencing the wildlife (boy, I hope I see a Kangaroo). Beth is heading to Nepal to meet up with her friend Erin. Beth seems disappointed she’s not going on the tour, or she is just trying to make me feel better about being on my own (either way I'm good with it). John keeps telling me the tour is going to be a blast! John is handsome and hilarious and cute in a way that makes you want to be around him. But he was also lost and unemployed and for some reason didn’t find the idea of going home to Tasmania an option right now. I have to wonder, what’s the problem. Was he worried about how he was going to be received by his family? Disappointment maybe? Maybe he has an awful family? Or maybe he’s not proud of himself for some reason and that’s always hard to face with the people who love you. I get it. It took me months to finally tell my family I left my husband. I wasn’t ready to hear, “I told you sooooooo” or “I knew he wasn’t any good” or any version of that. YES, I FUCKED UP!!!! The night I finally had the courage to leave my husband, or I should say, run out the back door as he was pounding the shit out of my back. I ran and ran in a daze not sure where I was going only to find myself in the front yard of my co-workers home. I stood outside Sally’s house in the snow, cold, and darkness for what seemed like forever. I had no clue what time it was but I knew it was late. As I stood there I started thinking, “what if he’s out driving around trying to find me?” I finally had the courage to knock on her front door. It was the kind of front door no one ever uses but I didn’t want to go to the side door since I wasn’t invited. As I stood there in the dark and knocked on the door, it seemed like an eternity before the front light came on and her face appeared in the window. She looked at me with questionable eyes and not smiling. In my head, I’m saying, “Fuck…fuck…” “Hi, Barbara, are you ok?” Loaded question. “No, I don’t have anywhere else to go and I need your help,” I do my best to say without falling completely apart. All I can imagine is my face must have shown the severity of my request. Sally quickly invites me into her house. Her husband walks around the corner and looks our way, “Is everything alright?” I can’t answer. Sally says to her husband, “Go to bed, we’re ok.” Knowing it’s not ok. Her husband, a man of few words and smart enough to do what she asks. He kisses her on the cheek and says goodnight. He looks weirdly at me as he walks out of the room up the stairs to their bedroom. In my head I’m so embarrassed, “What am I doing?” “I should have gone to a hotel or something…” That thought is suddenly met with…But HOW? You have no wallet, no money, no ID, no life… I’m George Bailey without a Clarence. Sally shows me to the spare bedroom and offers me some clothes and a washcloth. I’m numb. “HOW THE FUCK DID I GET HERE?????” She’s talking to me but I’ve lost my hearing. She heads for the door and I yell, “STOP!” “What?” She says with concern. “I have to show you something,” I say. “Ok” she looks at me with fear and concern in her eyes. I walk towards her and turn slowly with my back to her; I lift my shirt to expose my beaten and bruised back. I’m facing a mirror and can see her face in the reflection as she sees it. Her face says it all. “I’m so sorry Barbara, should we call the police or should we go to the hospital?” “No, no…I had to just show you. I can't hide anymore. I can’t hide what he’s been doing to me for years.” “Thank you for taking me in. I’ll figure out something tomorrow.” “You can stay as long as you need to,” Sally says as she closes the door behind her. It’s going to be a long night. What if he comes looking for me? Will they let him in? Will they tell him to go away? What is he going to do tomorrow? Show up at my work demanding to see me? Work? How am I going to get to work? What am I going to wear? What do I do next? It’s going to be a long night… Back in Australia: The next day I got up early to pack for the outback tour. Beth and I had breakfast and said our goodbyes. We’ll meet up again in Thailand. To my surprise, John has decided to come on the outback tour with me. I’m not sure how I feel about it. In one way I’m happy he’ll be with me since this is the first time I’ll be on my own but, on the other hand, he might rain on my parade, and he might ruin my plans. I know he likes me but I'm not sure if the feelings are reciprocal because the whole of my existence is dedicated to staying in a state of bumfuzzle.


This is a true story that chronicles my rebellious journey when I was 24 years old backpacking around the world looking for solace after the end of an abusive marriage (ok to escape). An intensely graphic and heartfelt memoir of self-discovery is about how getting lost can be where you belong, how traveling to new cultures and meeting new people helps you heal (they don't judge), find your voice and remember who you really are and want to be. It is certain to inspire anyone who has ever woken up in a life they don’t want to be in. Many life lessons and some bad decisions (sorry Mom) along the way. Buckle in! It's going to be a bumpy ride.