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'I am terrified of my own guilt for having put myself so selfishly first.'

I have a secret, that I’m ashamed to admit.

You know Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’?

I hate it.

Should I duck for cover?

Actually, let me further incriminate myself by admitting that during the peak of my ‘hate’, I actually thought I hated Elizabeth Gilbert as well.

I was given a copy of the book by a close friend shortly after my marriage collapsed. She said I’d love it, so naturally I went to bed with what I thought would be a good book. I remember reading how Elizabeth was so upset in her marriage that every night she cried in the bathroom. I had a vivid image of her in my mind, curled up against the bathroom door, sobbing. Just sobbing.

WATCH Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love below. Post continues after video…

Video via “Sony

The truth is, I could see her so clearly in my mind’s eye because I too had my own bathroom crying scene. I was fully clothed and in the shower. I knew at the time wearing clothes in the shower probably made me look crazy, but the alternative of being naked, exposed and completely vulnerable didn’t seem right. The warmth and weight of my wet clothes under the stream of hot water was comforting; providing the heaviness of a hug. I was leaning against the shower screen, sobbing. Just sobbing.

Elizabeth was sobbing because she wanted out of her marriage. I was sobbing because my husband had just told me he wanted out of our marriage. He became Elizabeth. I couldn’t read any more.

Several weeks later I caught up with another girlfriend. Over our coffee she presented me with a gift bag, her smile beamed as she told me how much she knows I need what’s inside the bag.

What do I need? A million bucks would do, thank you very much and failing that, one night with a handsome stranger and a reliable baby sitter would do me!

I opened the bag. There was a book…

EAT, PRAY, LOVE. Just brilliant, Freaking brilliant.

Being the determined woman I am, I decided to give Eat, Pray, Love a second chance.

mother's guilt to travel
Image via Instragram @alicelovesbooks
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Elizabeth's complaining about her weight gain irritated me. Cry me a river sister and tell me how much you hate gaining weight whilst eating amazing food and having lustful times with handsome men in countries I could only ever dream about. I couldn't read any more.

A few months passed, I was actively dating. I mean I was actively hating dating. It was time for a girly coffee with a friend I hadn't seen in several months. Again, over coffee I was faced with a gift bag. "I got this book from a friend and today I'm passing it to you". It was as though she was passing on some secret society manuscript, Book of Love, American Pie style perhaps.

EAT, PRAY, FREAKING DAMN YOU GO AWAY LOVE!

Over 6 millions copies sold. I now have three million of them. "Eat, Pray, Love has been passed from woman to woman like the secret of life" says the caption on the front cover. Yeah no shit!

I'm a single mother with four boys. I cannot bring myself to read about a selfish woman who drops everything and just travels when I can't even go to the toilet without being interrupted. I don't want to hear about the glorious food when my idea of a good meal is that moment when I have to hide in the pantry just to eat a spoonful of Nutella.

Glorious, glorious pizza.
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I want to travel. I want to see the the world. I want to eat amazing food. I want to be taught an exotic language by a handsome man who then takes me to bed. I want to run away.

I WANT TO EAT, PRAY, LOVE.

I have this amazing group of online friends who live in the USA. We met 10 years ago in an online infertility support group and with the help of Facebook, we've all remained friends.

What if I had an opportunity to meet all of these women in my life?

2015 was the year. I booked flights and in just a few days I am flying to LA where I am picking up an Escape Campervan and over a period of 40 days, I'll be driving all the way to NYC, meeting and having a coffee with each and everyone one of my online girlfriends along the way.

My decision has caused me an enormous amount of mother's guilt. I'm leaving my kids for almost six weeks with their father. I feel like I'm being utterly selfish and that as a mother, I should be taking my boys to the Gold Coast for a week instead of running away for six.

And then it hit me. I don't hate Eat, Pray, Love, nor do I hate Elizabeth Gilbert; it's me. I've been judging myself, trying my hardest to quiet the voice in my mind telling me to travel.

Image via Instragram @kennethyang_

Tonight as I sit here, I'm surrounded by my half packed luggage, my four sons safe and warm in their beds; I'm terrified. I am terrified that I am making a mistake. I am terrified they are going to miss me. I am terrified of the unknown.

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But, more than that, I am terrified of my own guilt. I am terrified of my own judgmental thoughts towards myself, because for the first time since becoming a mother, I have put myself, so selfishly first.

I find myself wondering: Why do we, as mother's find it so hard to give ourselves permission to follow our hearts?

In just a few short days I am going to say goodbye to my sons, I am going to hug and kiss them, I am going cry. Actually I'll probably sob. Just sob. I am going to board a plane and fly to the other side of the world spending 40 days celebrating my friendships with women. #CheriedoesAmerica is about to start!

What I've realised is that I didn't hate Elizabeth for her journey. I didn't hate Eat, Pray, Love. I hated that I wasn't listening to my heart. I was jealous and judgmental towards another woman, behaviour I promise to never do again and I promise to never compare my journey to another woman's journey.

mum guilt
Image via iStock.

But on top of that I also promise to celebrate other women's journey's without jealousy or judgement and especially without comparison to my own circumstance.

So to start with my promises, as I board a plane on Wednesday morning, can you guess what book I'll be reading?

Wish me luck!

Do you get mum guilt when you think about travel?

P.S.  My trip to the USA is a fundraising trip to raise money to support the Hamlin College of Midwives in Ethiopia, a country with a population of over 100 Million people, yet only 5,200 trained OB/GYNs and Midwives.  #CheriedoesAmerica is a celebration of women supporting and being with women through friendship and through midwifery.  You can read more about the fundraising here, or visit Cherie on Twitter and Instagram or Facebook

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