'In the middle of freezing my eggs, my partner told me he was moving across the world.'

I had just completed my first round of egg freezing when I realised my relationship of two years was not going to last.

After being single the majority of my adult life (eight years give or take), this guy was meant to be 'The One'.

I had been patient. I'd sat through countless first dates, attended what felt like a million weddings on my own, held out and refused to settle.

I'd beaten the odds and met a nice guy with a nice family on the apps, took it slowly (unheard of for me), followed all the rules, eventually moved in with him and was enjoying a romantic cocktail over dinner one night when he told me he'd been offered a job in Denver, Colorado. And he was taking it.

Watch: Tully Smyth's debut on Big Brother Australia. Post continues after video.

Video via Big Brother Australia.

In an instant, I realised my dreams of the white picket fence, 2.5 kids and some sort of Doodle dog were much, much further away than I had thought. I felt something die (hope? Our future? My eggs?) deep inside.

After slogging our way through eight months of long distance, with a whopping 16-hour time difference and 14,100km between us - we realised neither of us wanted to rejoin the other and give up our careers and lives. Not for a relationship that was already sinking. 


I found myself single, once again, at 35 years old. This was not part of the plan.

I was painfully heartbroken and lost, surrounded by friends who were already married and onto their second, even third baby - everything I so desperately desired.

I had a couple of eggs on ice but was planning on doing a second round, something that suddenly felt more desperate and depressing than empowering and proactive.

So when Lauren Thomson from PE Retreats emailed me, asking if I would be keen to come along to one of her 'Breathe' fitness and mindfulness retreats in Bali, it felt like great timing for a break. 


I really had no idea what to expect. I'd seen other 'wellness' retreats all over Instagram but they looked brutal and were full of super-fit cross trainers with 12-packs. I heard rumours of all kinds of barbaric rules like "No alcohol" and "No phones", hell I'd even heard of a silent retreat where you're stuck with nothing but your own thoughts for a week (literally my idea of a nightmare!)

But I was reassured this would be different.

Yes, there would be daily workouts but there would also be nightly social events, cocktails by the pool, meditation and mindfulness. 


During The Great Mental Breakdown of my 30s, I had turned to alternative therapies such as kinesiology and acupuncture so was definitely down for a bit of free talk therapy, especially in my current state. 

And let's be honest - nothing fixes a broken heart like a week in sunny Bali, right?

From the moment I checked into Gypsea Hotel in Bingin and met three of the retreat girls sitting by the pool, I knew I was going to be okay.


We were told at the meet and greet on day one that every day would have a different theme (connection, forgiveness, resilience etc.) on which the workouts and mindfulness sessions would be based.

The itinerary varied but generally, we'd kick-start the day with a workout at one of the local, outdoor gyms, followed by a mindfulness session led by the calming presence of holistic psychotherapist and coach Kaitlyn Menere and then we'd have free time to chill out by the pool, followed by the social event of the evening.

Tully during her Wellness Retreat in Bali, Indonesia. Image: Supplied.


There were also extra activities like a recovery session (complete with cold plunges and saunas) and a 'Sip & Paint' where we got to get creative with some watercolours and positive affirmations. 

It was basically a summer camp, for adults - and I loved every moment of it. 

My biggest highlight was the 'Rebirth' session, something I purposely chose not to look into before attending as I didn't want to go in with any preconceived ideas. The group was split into two and introduced to Breathwork by Kaitlyn and at the risk of ruining the experience for anyone else reading - I won't go into too much more detail.

Tully in a Rebirth session during her Wellness Retreat in Bali, Indonesia. Image: Supplied.


What I will say however is that I got more out of that two hour 'Rebirth' session than I had in 10 years of therapy. 

It was an out-of-body, out-of-this-world, emotional rollercoaster and yet somehow so healing and freeing at the same time.

I'd truly never experienced anything like it.


In hindsight, what I found most interesting is that I went into the 'Rebirth' session focusing entirely on my ex. Preparing myself to forgive him for "abandoning" me, for promising me the world but then giving me an atlas. For breaking my heart. Wasting my time. Not picking me and our relationship over his career.

I went into the experience feeling bitter, angry and resentful. And I'm not entirely sure what happened in that room or how breathing in a different pattern could have unlocked the secrets to the universe but all I know is that I left the Rebirth feeling like I suddenly had all the answers.

It wasn't about me at all. 

He hadn't left because there was something wrong with me. Because I wasn't enough or too much. Or because he didn't love me. 

He had simply chosen himself. His career. And as much as that hurt, I could no longer hold it against him.

I felt lighter.


Internal enlightenment is all well and good but the best part of the retreat was my new best friends. 

Making new friends in your 30s is really bloody hard. When everyone around you is elbows-deep in dirty nappies, it can sometimes feel like you don't have anyone left. Weekends are supposed to feel fun and full but can instead feel a bit empty and lonely.

I don't know whether it was the fact that everyone at the retreat was there for the same reasons - to meet new people, get fit, and deal with their trauma, or whether it was because most of us had come alone, but at the end of the week I felt closer to these women than I did to people I'd known my whole life.


I felt seen, really seen. I felt heard, understood, supported, championed. Opening yourself up and serving your deepest, darkest secrets and pain on a platter for a bunch of strangers to dig into is terrifying at first but also amazingly cathartic. Exposing yourself and listening to others do the same forges bonds I’d sadly not yet experienced in my adult life.

The new friends Tully made during her Wellness Retreat in Bali, Indonesia. Image: Supplied.


These women had welcomed me at face value, in that very moment of my life where I didn't feel especially great about myself, my choices, my journey and said: "You're actually pretty amazing. You've been through a hell of a lot and yet you're here, persisting. Wanting better for yourself. Wanting to heal and evolve and grow and that takes guts."

And they were right. We were all courageous for being there, for "doing the work", even when it's hard, even when it feels uncomfortable.

And we all left better for it.

I came home with an entirely different outlook on my life. I felt refocused, re-energised, and ready to tackle round two of my egg freezing all by my damn self!

But more importantly, I came back with a bunch of new friends, some of which I could not imagine my life without. 

Tully Smyth was a guest of PE Retreats.

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