Several years ago, Kristina Kuzmic was a struggling mom who was waiting tables to make ends meet and holding down two — sometimes three — part-time jobs at once.
She was living paycheck to paycheck and thisclose to her breaking point, but trying her damnedest to hold it all together with a smile.
“I didn’t want to bring my pitifulness to work, so I would show up to each shift with a fake smile on my face (which is EXHAUSTING; faking is so ridiculously exhausting!),” she wrote in a July 16 Facebook post. “I’d never whine or share my stories of misery or cry or scream at work, though all of those seemed less exhausting than faking was … I wanted to be professional, so I held it all in.”
But once she was alone, she’d inevitably fall apart. Gone was the confident smile and the happy exterior. Alone in her car, she let the walls come down and the stress take its toll; and it was raw and real and emotional.
“At the end of my shift, around midnight, I’d order myself the restaurant’s signature flat bread,” she continues, adding that it was a cheap dinner she could actually afford, thanks only to her employee discount. “I’d get in my car, put that flat bread on my lap, and then sob while stuffing my face with the yummy crust covered in caramelized pears and walnuts and cambazola cheese. All the emotions I held in for hours finally came pouring out during my drive home. The flat bread became my grieving buddy, my comfort food. And by the time I pulled up to my little apartment, there were only a few bites left, always soaked in my tears. (Not trying to sound poetic here. They were literally soaked in my tears.)”
In my own way, I sadly know just what that’s like; I was diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, and understand what it’s like to feel surrounded by darkness. I may not have been holding down several jobs with three kids to care for, but I do remember when putting one foot in front of the other seemed impossible; and when getting through tomorrow seemed painful.
But I was 16 years old. I hadn’t yet lived enough life to know that it would be okay. I didn’t understand that as hard as life can be, there’s an ebb and flow to it all. When it’s bad, it’s bad; but it isn’t bad forever.
Sometimes, when we’re wading through the darkness for what seems like forever, it’s easy to stop believing it’s possible to ever come upon the light. But there is always light.
It took a while, but eventually, Kuzmic learned that same all-important lesson that I did: This too shall pass.
“A few days ago I met a friend for dinner at that same restaurant and the first thing I ordered was my grieving buddy,” she continues in her post. “I hadn’t had it in years. And I didn’t cry this time. And I didn’t feel alone this time. And I didn’t feel hopeless. Because life is no longer pitiful.”
It certainly isn’t — Kuzmic has gone on to become a successful blogger and YouTube personality, and even won the reality competition Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star. (Yep, she got the Oprah stamp of approval! How’s that for living your best life?) Today, she’s amassed a social following in the millions and has even partnered with Little Things for a popular video parenting series she calls Truth Bomb Mom.
And now, she’s using her platform to remind others who are suffering that they’re not alone.
“If you’re sobbing alone in your car, it’s not permanent,” Kuzmic continues. “I know it feels like it is in the moment. I know it hurts and sucks, and I know you feel stuck. But you’re not. Hold on, but don’t hold still. Keep moving forward. Baby steps toward a new chapter of your story and a non-fake smile. You’ll get there.”
Trust me, she’s right — I’m proof of that one, too.