2015 hasn’t even come to an official close yet, but so far this year has been filled with probably more ups and downs than when I was thirty years old and had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Fighting for my life is somehow proving to be an easier task than some of the current life-changing experiences I have been enduring (yes, even vegans have bad days- even [years]). You see, I’ve been drunk, and for quite a long time. I’m not talking about being “drunk” in the standard tasty alcoholic beverage kind of way, but drunk on my emotions– emotionally drunk. I have been so drunk that the things that matter most to me in life have taken a backseat. My friends. My garden. My blog. My cat. Sending hand-written notes by mail. Attending concerts. Laughing. And, smiling.
A couple months ago I read one of my favorite plant based bloggers and famed YouTuber’s (Laura Miller of Raw Vegan Not Gross) blog post entitled: Sorry I haven’t written you back I’ve been kinda depressed and well, it stuck with me. Go ahead read it. It’s worth it. I’ll wait…
I love Laura’s willingness to get down-and-dirty honest with her followers and subscribers, especially considering she is a food blogger and generally doesn’t share her intimate feelings. In light of Laura’s post and also in owing it to myself and to my readers, I’m sharing a bit of my personal life here today. I know that by sharing something that has nothing to do with veganism I risk losing some of you as followers, but I have to be ok with that. I have to live fully authentically and it’s my hope that by sharing I can help explain why my blog posts have been so infrequent and to also allow myself to be ok with sharing my own vulnerability. After all, it was my diagnosis of cancer that influenced me to start this blog and that in itself was a journey that pushed me to be completely transparent, honest and forthcoming. While I intend to keep my blog primarily food focused, this is also a space where I share all things health and wellness related and I definitely feel that what I have to share is relevant. And perhaps, by sharing, I just might help or inspire one of you.
A few months ago I weighed 10 pounds lighter than I do today. A few months ago I was getting all sorts of compliments about how good I looked. A few months ago I was starving my body of food and nutrients because I was sad and had no desire to eat. And a few months ago I was experiencing (what I hope were) my darkest days. With the exception of March, April, September and this current month of October, I have spent almost every day (almost exclusively) in bed. Nearly every waking hour was spent crying and if I was forced to be awake (because my body/mind wouldn’t allow me to sleep any longer) I’d pass the time by watching an entire television series from beginning to end (I can officially check Mad Men off my list– I’ve seen every single downright good episode and while I love that show, I am not sure that it was the best choice to add to my already somber mood). Many of you, my friends, have reached out to me to catch up, say hi, invited me somewhere, left a voicemail, and in return you likely got little to nothing from me. My apologies, but in my best defense, I have been both distracted and let’s face it, downright depressed.
If you’ve made it this far in my post, you might be wondering what’s wrong (with me)? Even though now I weigh a few pounds more than I’d like (at some point this past spring food turned into a friend that comforted me during my lonely days which is why my thighs and hips are back to their former curvy cowgirl-selves), I seem to be in good health (after getting through a cancer scare in June) so it’s not that I am facing another life threatening physical illness. Nope, not this time. It’s my heart that has been aching (which ultimately means that my head could use some readjusting). Heartbreak is something that is all too familiar to me. I think it probably started when my dad decided to leave my family when I was about three years old. I’ve barely had a relationship with the person I refer to as “dad” even though he and I have shared the same town my entire life. Perhaps heartache is something that I attract into my life because it’s familiar even though every ounce of my being yearns for the exact opposite. I guess you could think of it like an addiction that feels nearly impossible to overcome– instead of moving on or trying some other approach, I’ve found myself diving in deeper into a terribly dark whirlwind of hurt and disbelief. And the tears, they don’t ever really stop. I have been feeling slightly better the last couple months, but just recently I had a little hiccup that I am hoping doesn’t send me back into…well…bed.
Heartbreak is one thing, but when it’s paired with other really challenging circumstances, that’s something entirely different. Enter money problems. The short story is that I am in over my head with debt that was accrued during the time I was undergoing medical treatments for cancer. I feel like I am living for the sole purpose of working just so that I can pay my bills. There has to be more than life than working to pay bills, right? The debt feels completely daunting especially since I am only able to contribute minimum payments each month which only keeps me feeling like I am treading water, not getting anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I do know how incredibly fortunate I am to have my health, to be self-employed, to be able to eat fresh food, travel, and have a roof over my head.
While this blog post will likely come across as a “Debbie Downer,” or a “woe is me,” story, that’s honestly not my intention– I just want to be honest, real and truthful because otherwise I’d feel like I was lying to all of you and ultimately to myself. And yes, I want my sadness, grief and worry to dissipate; because right now I feel like I am in the midst of some kind of tornado-meets-horror film. And for those of you who know me, you know I hate horror. I prefer unicorns and rainbows. I am yearning for the day when I slip into my vegan cowgirl boots and feel the courage and strength I once had to get me through the day.
So why am I sharing all of this with you? I suppose I am being candid for many reasons:
- I think we are all broken, have loss or are experiencing pain in some way, shape or form. As strange as it sounds, knowing that others feel similar makes me feel strangely comforted and not totally alone.
- I want to apologize to those of you who have reached out to me and are still awaiting a response. And to those of you who were wondering why my formerly consistent blog posts went from weekly to once or twice a month (ironically I have decided I like the idea of posting less– it feels better to commit to blogging a couple times per month rather than having to crank out weekly material that I may not even be passionate about), well– now you know why.
- Real life is not the life that appears on social media. I just had a friend tell me yesterday that “I appear to be happy and having fun” when I told her of my recent struggles. We can all pick and choose what photos to post to our Facebook accounts and characters we want to tweet on Twitter, and I am willing to bet that a good portion of those depict happier versions of ourselves.
So what does all this mean? I am not sure, I just know that I felt compelled to share. Perhaps it’s just cathartic for me to scribble these words down to help with my healing process. Perhaps I am sharing in hopes that someone who is reading this has some insight that will bring me out of my drunken dark place and into the sobering light. I guess ultimately I share my feelings today so that they can be a reminder to tread a bit lighter on those around us. There is great truth in that famous quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle“. Most of us are not where we’d like to be in life, but rather we are working on our paths to get as close as possible to that ultimate place. For me, living a vegan lifestyle is a daily reminder to be a bit more compassionate in my choices so that I can leave the world a better place. Perhaps being a bit more kind and forgiving to ourselves is a good place to start.
Thanks for listening, Kayle xo