We are on an ongoing journey. We really never arrive. We must figure out how to extract moments of joy throughout our hardship.
I grew up in a strict household. I realized from a relatively early age that I was on my own. I had to figure out things by myself. I developed anxiety at a young age. I felt unsafe, and I kept looking for that safety I lacked. I am an adult child of alcoholics who themselves were children of alcoholics.
In my family life, I tried to be the best girl I could be. I was an overachiever and didn’t want to make anyone mad. I always worked hard and received good grades. I wanted approval, wanted my parents to be proud of me, but I never actually heard those words from them as a child. They did not applaud, encourage or validate me. This upbringing affected how I dealt with many future relationships in my life.
My name is Daryl Meyer, and I am Kintsugi.
As a child, I was a gifted gymnast. One of the things that attracted me to the sport was the applause and the validation. At around 15 years old, I developed anorexia and found out what it was through an article in Seventeen magazine. My parents did not notice or take care of it.
I surely did not feel comfortable enough to discuss this with them.
I was on a trajectory to possibly be a part of the Olympics, but I had a bad fall. This fall caused me to be in a full body cast during the day, sleeping in a hospital bed at night in constant pain. As a 16-year-old, the full cast did not help me with my self-esteem. One thing that the fall instigated was the time I needed to heal from anorexia and take better care of myself. I wanted to live. I always have.
I lost my ability to get scholarships from my gymnastic experience. I was not competing, and I felt like I had lost my identity. My mother suggested I enroll in a modeling course and that changed the trajectory of my life. It was not planned as a career, but it soon became my profession. Needless to say, one of the things that really attracted me to modeling and acting was the validation that I so yearned to find.
From New York to Florida
I met my first husband in college and followed him to New York. At that time, I had to come to a decision to make modeling my full-time career. I decided to forgo my graduate schooling and become a full-time model and actress. I was also married and soon recognized my mistake as he was, unbeknownst to me, an alcoholic as well.
My professional life was giving me joy, but my personal life was a mess. The marriage fell apart.
I felt like a disappointment, even amid the applause. People were thinking I was doing so well, but inside I was broken and a mess. I didn’t know how to work on myself. I decided to go into therapy.
After 15 years, I returned to Florida. I had experienced bad relationships. I retired from dancing and decided that it was time to spend more time figuring out who I was in a less fast paced environment. My then soon-to-be second husband followed me to Florida. We had our son, and that marriage fell apart. He was not an alcoholic but suffered from his own damage. I needed to figure out why I was attracting unhealthy people into my life.
The Survival Fire of Single Parenting
I became a single mom, really unsure about anything. I didn’t have a good family support system and the survival fire in me was bursting. I knew I would have to work hard, stop blaming others, stop waiting to be saved and really save myself. I wanted to be a role model for my son.
I continued with a lot self-reflection and therapy. Despite not being an alcoholic, I did 12 Step Programs. My son is my best production. I know I am a good mom. Jaxson, who is now 20, was my inspiration to keep going.
I remembered how I thought that not being able to be a gymnast due to the accident was the end of the world. I was able to see how that inability brought me to my modeling career, which was so amazing for me. I saw that there are reasons for hardship and that helped me pull through.
Joy is the Journey
My journey was a private one and that is why I made it through. I don’t believe I could have survived a public journey on social media. I am joyful. I am back working in modeling and acting, as I had taken time off to raise my son. Even in my 50s, this profession has given me purpose. I couldn’t believe that in my 50s, here in Florida, I had one of the best years in my career.
We always have to keep going and finding and extracting moments of joy along the way because joy is not a destination. It is the journey, and our paths take us on twists and turns along the way.
My son suffers from depression. Recently, he tried to commit suicide. Frankly, I thought I would go with him. I could not see myself surviving him. At some point, I had to remember how on an airplane, we learn to put our own mask first and then help those with us. I had to figure out how to help him and how not to drag myself along with him. This, in itself, has been a huge challenge.
My son and I have a great relationship, and I am so proud and grateful to be his mom, and at this writing he is strong and focused forward. I hope that I managed to break the patterns of addiction and abandonment. I hope that I was able to make our family life lighter and more insightful.
Knowing that life is a struggle, we can choose to be a victim, but it doesn’t help anyone. We have to say this is what is on my plate today. Whether by belief in god or reaching out to friends and creating a family if we don’t have one, we can make a support system for ourselves.
I have a sister who was adopted when I was eight years old. We had very different experiences in how we were raised. I was there to support her in ways that I did not have anyone to support me. My parents are both only children, so there were no aunts, uncles, cousins…
We had many reasons not to see things eye to eye, but recently she told me how much she admires me and how proud she is of me. There are not enough words to describe how wonderful that was to hear. My father apologized to me for spanking me too much and apologized to her for not spanking her enough.
I survived emotional abandonment and lived with alcoholics who didn’t think of my basic need for love and validation. I survived an accident that tore away my dream of the Olympics. I had two failed marriages, and a son who suffers from depression. Through all of these challenges, I stayed positive, learned and forgave, and gave to others. Today, I care for my elderly parents. I learned how to tolerate the verbal abuse, to see it as something happening outside of me and not to me. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I know I will manage to figure things out because I have a great desire to live and to live well.
Reviewing my life, I see how simply what I lacked was the simple validation that I was enough, I learned to be kind to myself and give that unconditional love that I needed to myself.
My name is Daryl, and I am Kintsugi.
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To follow Daryl on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darylk.meyer/
For more information on Anorexia click here
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255