There is always something to be thankful for.
I don’t mean that to sound patronizing. I understand. I know how hard life can be. I remember one of our biggest Thanksgiving celebrations ever. It was Thanksgiving 2009. The three-bedroom London flat that I shared with my husband, PanKwake, and at least one of my older children was packed. At least thirty people. Our friends from the council estate. The children’s friends from school and university. Even our immigration advisor.
And I stood crying in the kitchen as I iced the carrot cake. It had been just two and a half months since I lost my baby. A miscarriage. And I was spiraling deeper and deeper into depression. My marriage was a shambles as I had caught my husband chatting online and arranging to meet with another woman. I had lost three jobs in two years, through no fault of my own. And PanKwake had been diagnosed with epilepsy.
Yet, I had to put on a good face. I had to do Thanksgiving. For the children. To celebrate their American traditions and keep it alive.
But even then, there were things to be thankful for. I had six wonderful offspring. I had all these people around me. I had a roof over my head. And we had food to put on the table.
We forget that sometimes. To count our blessings. To see the good side of things, not just the bad. That the glass is just as much half-full as it is half-empty. And most importantly, you can fill the damned thing back up. I have always been an optimist like that. A survivor. It served me well that Thanksgiving.
I like to think about the story which is attributed to the Native Americans. ‘I thought things were bad because I had no mocassins. Until I met the man who had no feet.’
That is actually one of the tenants of Dialectal Behavioral Therapy, the only one that has ever helped me. The idea that no matter how bad our situation, some people have it much worse.
Ten years later, of course, I face another Thanksgiving tomorrow. In a new city, a new home, with a new partner. The love of my life. But even that only came to me after another dark, dark time.
But as I think back on those other Thanksgivings and those dark times, I know that it is because of those dark times that I appreciate all that I have now. I know the beauty of the love Alan and I share because I have tasted the bitterness of betrayal and loss. And as frustrating as remodeling a one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old house can be, as slow going as it is, I appreciate our @HomeCrazzyHome, not because it is a mansion but because of the love it holds; because we have together made it a safe place for ourselves and others who are ‘different.’
I appreciate the people that are in my life too. Our friends. Even though I crave solitude and privacy as much as I did in that kitchen ten years ago. I still am grateful to have these wonderful friends, his, PanKwake’s, mine, and ours.
Yes, I am blessed. More than most. I have it all. Love. Security. And the ability to do the things I love most, not because they pay, but because they fulfill me. I wish I could give that gift to everyone.
If I could go back in time, what would I say to that woman standing alone in that kitchen? Probably nothing. Because the woman I am today was born of the tears that fell that day…and all the other days before and after.
Yes, there is always something to be thankful for. Sometimes we have to look awfully hard to find it. But it is there nonetheless. And when we find it and hold onto that one thing, it gives us strength and courage to make it through the storm.
Have you ever noticed that the prettiest, freshest smelling moments are those just after the worst storms? Sometimes we need to be just as thankful for those storms as the rainbows.