Gratitude: It’s Complicated.

Listen you guys.

I know I’ve been sort of a pain in the ass lately. Sad and angry and full of hard feelings. I appreciate the support and the love many of you have shared with me.

I know I have come across as bitter and resentful and that’s because I am on some days. On many days, actually.

I was talking to a friend on the phone today–someone I haven’t caught up with in awhile but someone who, every time we do finally connect, lets me know that she’s thinking of me and lets me basically talk about all of my stuff like a self-absorbed jackass until we run out of time and I realize I should have asked her more about herself and what’s going on in her life, because I really do want to know. (Thank you, friend, for letting me do that.)

Anyway, in today’s monologue I was telling her about this anger I have toward the idea that I will somehow be “better in the end” for all this suffering. How the idea that I should be grateful for the potential of a positive outcome to all of this is just infuriating.

So I think I have a new thing, and it is Finding Pins on Pinterest that Infuriate Me. Here is one of them I found today while writing this blog:

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What’s that I smell? Oh, right. BULLSHIT.

This one is just…no. NOPE.

Because guess what guys? I already know that I’m strong. I am a goddamned iron soldier. I don’t need to find my strength–I grew it as a kid who did everything she needed to survive.

This healing process, for me, is all about the vulnerability.

I already know I can be a rock solid badass who withstands some serious shit.

But now that I’ve withstood it, now that I’ve endured and survived, can I still be human instead of iron? Can I actually feel the feelings of sadness and anger and despair and show those feelings to other humans without feeling like doing so is a failure?

This is the real challenge. This goes against all of the hard wiring I’ve developed in my childhood, which tells me NOT to feel.

Which tells me that I am a burden to others, unworthy of care and kindness and love.

Which tells me I MUST stay firm and steadfast and look like all is well no matter what rages in my heart beneath the surface.

Which tells me I cannot break apart and ask for help and cry AGAIN and show that I am weak and flawed and hurting so deeply.

But I am. I am all of these things. And to forgive myself for being a flawed, broken, hurting human who shares her pain and asks for help and tells the secrets goes against that hard wiring in my brain.

I learned that these things are WRONG and BAD and NOT HOW PEOPLE SHOULD BE and every time I write, or share with a loving friend, or ask for help, or cry or scream, it’s like having to hit the manual override button on that hard wiring every single time so I can carry on with this process.

But, here’s the catch on this whole “being better for my suffering” thing:

The truth is that I will be better in the end.

This is a healing process, and healing is always better than staying injured and broken. Even though we’re all a little (or a lot) broken, I know that there is a positive to the hell I am going through now, if I stay the course.

I can be less broken, and more whole.

I can connect with other people more completely. Share the human experiences. I can love and feel joy and friendship and kindness in a real and complete way instead of amid the fog that I have been half-living in all these years.

I can be the absolute best version of myself, warts and all…not some faux-perfect best version that I might show on Facebook.

And I will do all those things. Eventually.

And I will be incredibly grateful for it. Eventually.

But for now, my relationship with gratitude is incredibly complicated, because the anger and the bitterness and anti-gratitude of today comes from knowing that I could have been better from the start.

Under different circumstances, I could have been the best version of myself for all these years instead of just now clawing my way to it as a forty-something with kids of her own.

I could have had happy and productive relationships with friends and romantic partners instead of destructive ones that left me feeling even more broken and worthless.

What more could I have achieved in these last 25-30 adult(ish) years had I not been so very broken from the start? Who else could I have been? What else could I have done? What opportunities did I miss?

These are all questions I am letting go of. I can feel them loosening their grip on my soul even as I type.

I imagine, with hope, with optimism, that they will soon be replaced with gratitude for and pride in what I have already achieved despite these challenges; who I am now and all I have already done; and the opportunities I have created and acted on along the way.

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Oh, I have the strength all right. I’m doing it.

I am so very grateful for the possibility of a new kind of life, full of genuine happiness, joy and love.

There is sure to still be pain and hardship along the way, but just not so much, and/or not so all the time-y.

I look forward to being grateful for less soul-crushing pain in my life.

Most of all, in this moment, I am grateful for the people who have made me feel safe to share my weakness, my vulnerability, my pain and my heart with them.

People like the friend I talked with this week…she is going through her own version of hell and we just sat and shared in each other’s misery and strangely it was the best hour and a half I’ve had in a long time.

We waded through the epic sucking of life together, knee-deep, that friend and I. We carried a bit of each other’s burden and it was a revelation for me and I was so incredibly grateful for her sharing my load and I hope she felt the same.

This is where gratitude hits me these days, in the appearance of a few people who, amazingly, care about me and who love me for exactly who I am in this messy, chaotic time of my messy, chaotic life.

People who show up for me even when they don’t know what to say or do, but they show up anyway. People who don’t abandon me; instead they stand with me and carry a bit of the load.

For me, having people who do that is just so…different and miraculous.

Even though it can be hard for me to trust the good intentions of these people given my background, I am forcing myself to take the leap and accept them as the miracles they are.

And I am determined to force myself to a place of gratitude, not only for these miraculous people, but for the many wonderful things in my life that are being so completely eclipsed by the pain right now.

I’ll get there. Eventually.

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4 thoughts on “Gratitude: It’s Complicated.

  1. When I read your posts, I picture you punching & kicking the shit out of a punching bag, getting that anger & frustration & whatever else out. And I’m cheering you on. I’m cheering you on no matter what you do.

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