Six Months. That’s how much time has passed since the Sumatra adventure, since the time that I was supposed to flood social media with pictures and tales of my travel. Even now, I find it difficult to type out the words though so many stories stew inside of me waiting to be shared. Today, I finally took the first step in what I know is long, long overdue and created the space and time to write. I was staring at the blank screen before me asking “okay, now what?” when I was quickly answered with that little ding in my inbox. Ask, and you shall receive. Ann VosKamp’s blog happened to magically appear with the words I most needed to understand. It was entitled “Why You May Be The Most Vulnerable When Things Are Going Well” and she featured guest author Jennifer Rothschild who wrote: “Hard stuff can wear us out and leave us feeling powerless. Sometimes our most vulnerable tired comes after we have stood on a mountain of success and seen God’s power…We are all vulnerable after victory.” For six months I have been mentally beating myself up knowing how I was failing at telling the stories that so desperately need to be told, but for six months I have been paralyzed, frozen, weighted, exhausted, powerless, and unable to do so.
When I first returned from Sumatra, I was on an incredible high and charged with a passion and purpose unlike anything I have ever felt before. Shortly after, however, that energy dissipated. My physical self began to deteriorate. I was exhausted all of the time, I began to experience tremendous pain in my body, a pain that prevented me from dancing or working out and teaching at the levels that were normal for me. Through my limited mobility, I began to struggle with my identity. So much of who I thought I was rested in what I was able to do and I wasn't able to do much of anything. I was passed off from specialist to specialist and had medical test after medical test conducted. Theories of my symptoms revolved around parasitic infection to viruses from insect bites as a result of travel. The lack of answers directly correlated to my lack of self-compassion and, in typical Dani defense mode, I purposely pushed my adventure of a lifetime away.
On top of fatigue issues and physical ailments, my immune system seemed to be on permanent vacation. Recently, I ended up with my first case of poison ivy as well as my first serious allergic reaction. I was put on prednisone to help with the poison ivy and for the first time, felt the pain in my body subside. I also found out, in part due to the random allergic reaction, that my body was making crazy amounts of histamine. I was quickly reminded on how the things that seem to be inconveniences or hardships really are paths to lead us to truth and best-version-of-self, how what feels like breaking really just might be necessary cracks to allow the light in. For the first time in months, I began to have hope to reclaiming the power I once had. I was so filled with gratitude for the poison ivy and anaphylaxis experience that helped shed light into what was happening inside of me and put me on my first real path to wellness. Turns out my body didn’t seem to care for all of the vaccines it received before I left and decided to slowly and systematically protest. Around this same time, Photographers Without Borders released a video on Facebook advertising for their next Sumatra experience. The video featured my story. I had no idea I was being filmed for much of the footage and knew when I saw it, it was time to begin reflecting on and revisiting my Sumatran story…a story of victory, of heartache, of desperation and hope…but before those stories could be told, I had to reclaim my power by telling the story I had been living, the story that is finally coming to an end, the story of a lost and found identity, the story of pain and struggle, the story of gifts in the most unexpected of places, and the story of the importance of self-compassion, forgiveness, rest, and healing. This is where my story begins.
LOVE BIG. LAUGH LOUD. HUG HARD. WRITE ON.