The Duality of the Struggle Bus
My guy just recovered the hard drive from the computer I was using in 2013. A tiny little Acer, my last PC before switching to my beloved Mac. Locked within was a treasure trove of photos from one of the BEST summers of my life. What struck me as I scrolled through videos and snapshots of my twin nieces (who are now six) teething on my bracelets and learning to crawl in front of landmarks like the Prague Castle, Eiffel Tower, and Berlin Wall (not to mention the grand tour of vegan and juice restaurants I dragged everyone to that summer) was… it was also one of my WORST summers. I realize how absolutely baffling that sounds, but stick with me.
At the time I was hyper aware of my disordered relationship with food and my body, and I was on the path to correcting it. I was struggling with hormonal imbalances and still eating by all the rules. I was a vegetarian who couldn’t eat dairy or gluten, and I struggled with finding food at the major restaurants in touristy areas. But that wasn’t the pain: the pain was that I very much felt like I was trapped in a body (and brain) I… hated.
I lived by Michael Pollan’s: “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.”
Which is a lovely sentiment. But I lived it to the extreme. In fact, I did everything to the extreme. I’ve never been one for half-assing… well… anything.
On top of this, I’d just swallowed my pride and fully stepped into my privilege: if it weren’t for my parents helping me pay for the U-haul to pack all of my belongings to drive from New York City to Louisiana, I would have had a much harder path to leaving New York when I felt I couldn’t stand one more godforsaken winter there.
I was struggling with the desire to grow a business, and I had no prospects for work when I returned to Louisiana post-summer. My resume consisted of a carousel of jobs—waiting tables, working as an assistant at a hedge fund, nannying, acting… not exactly the CV CEO’s light up over.
I also spent the majority of my time thinking about was I was going to eat, thinking about what I was eating, and wondering if what I had eaten was the right choice for me. I wasn’t quite yet fed up with this way of life: it felt more like a basic part of my survival package.
But that summer was also AMAZING. When my sister found out I was leaving New York, she essentially hired me to help with her new babes in the rather secluded German village in which she lived (as her Air Force husband was often sent off on assignments for long periods of time). I lived with her sweet Full House family as their resident Uncle Jesse/Joey (let’s be honest… I’m more a Joey) for three months, from June to September. All I had to do to repay her for the plane ticket was be her live in nanny… which, honestly… as an aunt and professional NYC nanny? I WAS MORE THAN HAPPY TO DO. I cuddled my nieces and formed bonds with them that last to this day. We traveled to Berlin and Luxembourg and The Czech Republic and France (can I tell you how much I recommend road trips in Europe? Please do it. Drive all around Europe in your car. It’s so beautiful). I stood in awe in front of The Louvre and silent contemplation at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. I ate homemade macaron at farmers markets and went to weekend German beer festivals.
It was beautiful.
I know how the darkness of suffering can enshroud even the brightest moments in a fog, and even still… I am so grateful for both the light and the dark of that summer.
I’m writing this to you so that you know that, if you can identify with ANY of that… you sure as hell aren’t alone. And I found a way out of that fog. You can, too.
I’m not saying I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, painted on a smile, and found happiness. No, indeed. I hired a health coach. I then hired a business coach. I found a therapist. I was taught by a yoga teacher and community.
We cannot have the darkness without the light or the light without the darkness. We sure as hell can’t know true joy and bliss without knowing pain and suffering. The living is in the full experience, and it isn’t in the control or the rules.
I know how food and exercise can be measures of control in life, but I promise you there’s so much more living beyond all that.