At Thanksgiving, we all give thanks and pass the sweet potatoes. We bow our heads and solemnly proclaim thanks for the bounty and abundance which blesses our lives. And for many years I am affected, touched, moved and weepy at the poignancy of other peoples gratitude in addition to my own. But we rarely give thanks for the adversity. It is not only the positive, lovely and joyous things that make life worthy of gratitude. In equal measure, negative, sad and painful things lend themselves, ultimately, to good fortune.
So in an odd twist I wish to give thanks for 8 things….8 Things that were not so fun or happy and that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy…but nonetheless have ultimately served to help me grow, evolve, change, learn and become more of who I wish and want to be.
1. Struggling with depression and its conjoined twin, anxiety. I have a mild variety of depression that waxes and wanes. Like lint on navy gabardine or static electricity on laundry just out of the dryer, my melancholia is just fucking annoying. I have never wanted to harm myself but morbid thinking happens. Manfred Moribund wants to rent a room some times. The amazing thing about depression (at least my version of dysthymia) is that I now KNOW when I am depressed. Like a shroud, I feel covered. And while medication can help….LEARNING to focus on things that alter my behavior patterns has had the most significant impact. I stopped trying to THINK my way out of the darkness and just close my eyes and used my senses. Like a blind person…I FEEL my way out of the darkness.
2. Losing a few really significant friends during the divorce. In many ways, the loss of these friends was emotionally harder than the divorce. The divorce I was prepared for, I knew the precarious and treacherous road that lay ahead. I was not prepared for my longest friend from college and my closest friend here in The ‘Ville to walk away. It was painful. It was an instant judging. But, I have learned the value of friendship from new people in my life who see me and let me be myself. And I no longer feel that I am offending, not pleasing, not measuring up or disappointing others. It is a liberating thing. Tolerance is a vital component of unconditional love; without tolerance, its ALL conditional.
3. My sons not being with me 50% of the time. I believe in the need…the ABSOLUTE need….for the boys to be with BOTH their father and I. I have never, ever, ever thought it should be any other way. But, when they are not here, when the house is quiet, when I’m cooking for just myself…..I don’t cook. And the quiet expands because I am not usually a TV watcher. But into that quietude….into the gaping hole….floated my creativity. And out of it flowed my creations: this blog, a 600 page novel that made the finals, two finished quilts….[shhhhhh. I can’t show you #2 yet. Gotta wait til Xmas], my canning…you get the idea. I can’t, nor am I trying to replace the boys. It is impossible, honestly. But I am trying to not feel amputated when they are away. Again….Pain makes your beautiful via the Judybats.
4. Falling off a ladder. September a year ago, I fell off a ladder. I had a severe sprain/strain but I swore I had fracture my ankle. I screamed my bloody head off. I became aware that I had not been occupying ALL of me. It was like David Byrne in that Talking Heads video…I didn’t really fit in me anymore. I mean this spiritually/metaphysically….not a weight thing. I realized I wanted to inhabit myself better, be a better driver per se. Remaster things. So I started walking regularly. Then I joined the gym. Now I have tentatively started yoga…..and WHOA, I might as well have Meniere’s disease. I am like a Weeble….I wobble and topple. But afterwards, I have vitality and strength.
5. Renting someone else’s house. I hate it. Really and truly loathe it. I try not to think about it too much cuz I get this Ick factor. Ok…moving on….Anyways, living in a space that someone else carpeted and painted and wore out motivates me to GET MY OWN HOUSE. I want my own house. I will have my own house. I have gotten The House out of my head and committed to formal architectural drawings. I bought a parcel of land. I am compelled and it will happen. Not IF but WHEN.
6. My parents got divorced. It happened a few years before my own. It is what it is…but the consequences are that I was no longer a kid. I wasn’t the baby of the family anymore because The Family has disassembled. I got to grow up. I like being grown up. :-)
7. My medical practice struggled and practically dissolved due to broken contracts, retirements, illnesses and some basic personality malfunctions. When the dust all settled, we were leaner and streamlined. I somehow ended up the Big Boss. It means I get to be the kind of boss that I would want to work for. I get to build a better mousetrap. And I have some great collaborators now, too.
8. Being alone. Most people step back out into the world and instantly into another relationship. I can’t see it. And while I am alone, I am no longer lonely. I think it has to do with personal contentment and personal development: differentiation. And I do not think any of that would have been possible were it not for the long and arduous path upon which I have walked the last several years. I went from doubting myself and having no self assurance or resolve to being quite content, a baptism by fire.
Would I wish away these things, scrub it off and white wash? No WAY! Never. I am in a good place. I am going to an even better place. I have no regrets. I will not wish away any of my choices. Do I wish I might have been smarter or wiser long long ago? Nope. I love my sons and I wouldn’t trade a single thing that might result in their existence being jeopardized. Nope. NEVER. It all happened like it was supposed to….sometmes it was really good and sometimes it was really, really sucky. I like where it has all gotten me and I am thankful for it.