I’m with you, sister. One of my recent life lessons has been un-learning that level of thrift, now that things are slightly better. I’m proud of myself for mastering such industriousness and frugality — as if there’d been any other choice — but I also finally realize that my body truly needed and deserved more all along, and it is taking conscious, deliberate effort to reverse my old survival habits and nurture myself appropriately again.
Also, you mention that freelancing was way harder in the U.S. than in Europe. I live in Berlin (born in Pennsylvania), and I completely agree. European society is set up in a way that is far more conducive to work–life balance than the United States is, and most essentials are cheaper on this continent as well. Knowing that you can take care of your needs (e.g., costs for food, rent, health insurance) — and enjoy your life — without constantly being at risk of utter financial ruin does wonders for your mental health. I can’t imagine trying to carry out the same lifestyle in the U.S. I never could imagine that, in fact. That’s why I came here. Here’s to hoping it works out for both of us. :)