New Year, Another Day
I’ve been trying to think of a way to start my next post for some time…unable to come up with anything. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything and for that, I am sorry. I could use an excuse like “the holidays are always so busy” or “we had family here so I couldn’t find the time”, but the truth is, I have had the time to reflect, dwell, and worry about a lot of things.
So as much as I wanted to share an uplifting New Year’s post, like so many others on social media, or talk about how 2018 is going to be the “best year yet”, instead I’m going to share a little about my life lately and how we are ‘doing’. For those that know me off-line, you’ll know that I have been a vegetarian for over 7 years….not by choice. About 8 years ago, I got really sick, showing all the signs and symptoms of severe food poisoning, but instead of being an isolated incident, it left me feeling sick for months. After seeing a multiple doctors and a specialist, having tests, tests, and further tests done, I was left with more questions than answers. I was given the advice from a doctor to keep a journal of everything I ate for several months and try to narrow down what might be a possible trigger food or activity. After six months, the only thing I found was a small correlation between eating meat and becoming sick, so I continued on for a few months before deciding to stop eating meat/fish for good. I say a small correlation, because it didn’t happen EVERY time I would eat meat, but often enough that I was willing to try anything. Being sick was disrupting my whole life…my relationships, my work (I was self-employed and running an internet company), traveling, and most of all, eating had become my enemy. I felt like everything I put in my body which should be fueling me and keeping me healthy, was making me sick. So fast forward 7 years of being a vegetarian and things are much better, I’ve gotten my health ‘under-control’ and am only having episodes a couple times a year.
Well, that was until last summer…a few extra unexplained episodes here and there, a trip to the emergency room, an urgent care visit and finally more doctors and more tests….what I thought I had “under-control” was an illusion. The difference now, is that it’s not just my life that’s being affected…I am married with a two-year-old son and more responsibilities and people who depend on me than ever before. I feel like I owe it to them and myself to figure this issue out once and for all… if only it were that easy!
Since moving to the farm, I have experienced several lifestyle changes other than the usual stress that comes with farming and kids. The restaurants in our rural area don’t typically serve vegetarian dishes and if they do, they are fried alongside burgers and steaks. People are very nice, but also skeptical of my food issues (it’s weird, right?), and I’ve gone from saying I have a meat allergy (which leads to a thousand questions) to saying “I can’t eat meat, it makes me sick.” Straightforward. After having lived in Boulder, Colorado, which is a mecca of health-food and allergy-accomodating restaurants, to moving to a smaller but still food-progressive town of Ames, to the farm, the way I eat has changed in a big way. While I love our current situation, it has come with new challenges, my food issues being one of them.
I started out 2018 by fasting for more tests and hanging out in a hospital, but most of all, struggling to stay positive and hopeful for the New Year ahead. Like anything, I know we will get through this rough patch, but in the meantime, I am going to share a few of my positive quotes and memes for anyone else who is struggling to start the year off in the positive way you wanted. And if there are others out there struggling with diet restrictions, food-allergies or intolerance, please know you aren’t alone.
After experiencing many ups-and-downs, I’m starting to realize my personal process to get from an unhealthy place mentally and physically, to a more positive one of healing. It goes something like this: [hurt + pain + worry] > [frustration + anger] > [giving up] > [acceptance] > [healing + moving on]
First, I start by worrying, I get down, I struggle….and sometimes for a LONG time, before I just get mad at the problem or situation. The very human side of me asks, “why me?” I wonder why it has to be this way, and I’m always trying to see the reason behind it. Guess what? Sometimes that’s not for us to know! Then, I just give up…”I can’t do this anymore!” and believe it or not, this is a very good thing. It’s not really, “I can’t do this [life] anymore”, its actually a “I can’t fix this myself” “I can’t deal with this all on my own” or “I can’t control this situation” anymore. Once I’ve accepted that I cannot control my life the way I want and try to (as we all try to do once in a while), things actually get easier…there is a plan and it’s out of my hands. I don’t know how things are going to go, but I do know that things always work out the way they should in the end (whether good or bad). Healing and moving on are the last phases, healing, both mentally and emotionally, help me to feel whole and even though the problem may still be present, my view has changed to a more positive and pro-active one. Moving on, is just that…moving on with life and knowing that the problem/issue doesn’t define my life, but instead is a minor aspect of who I am. A piece of my past, not of my current outlook on life.
It is fair to say that my husband started to figure out my “phases”, before I realized them. (Sometimes an outside perspective does wonders!) And while knowing about them doesn’t eliminate problems from happening, it does help me to get from the beginning struggles to the end result of moving on, with more grace and faith in all things happen for a reason.
So bring on 2018, and whatever ups-and-downs it has in store, because sometimes great things don’t start off great…but great things can come from the darkest times. As I like to remind myself, “chin-up, cheer-up and enjoy the ride.” Wishing everyone a better year ahead than what you even realize….