So, Canadian Thanksgiving was a month and a half ago and its American counterpart was Thursday. Even “Black Friday”, a term I hate, has past. However, I don’t think you really need a special day to share why you are thankful.
I am thankful first and foremost that I am alive. While this can be said of anyone, there have been at least three times during my adulthood alone that could have changed that in a heartbeat. It was only by a miracle and the grace of God (which to me are interchangeable), that I am walking on this earth.
Secondly, I am thankful for my wonderful husband of 14 years. We had a rough road for the first 10 or so; however, love, friendship, faith and stubbornness kept us in it and now even the toughest situation can’t break our relationship.
I am thankful for some very close friendships that have stood the test of time and situation. These people know who they are and hopefully know how much I love them and am appreciative of their undying loyalty even when I am not up to keeping in touch.
Now, so far these are pretty standard things to be thankful for. The next list might surprise you.
I am truly thankful for mental illness and chronic pain. I know that I should probably be sent back to the mental hospital (where I haven’t been in 2 decades) for that statement. However, it is straight from the heart. If I had not suffered from either of these afflictions I doubt that I would be the person I am today.
Bipolar cost me relationships with friends and family, jobs, housing and more. It was definitely one of the factors that almost cost me my life. So what could I possible be thanking it for?
I would not have found my faith if I had not been hospitalized and met a young woman who would eventually get me to her church. While I have lost touch with her, I will never forget the role she has played in my life. I also would not have been able to console a family who lost a daughter to this horrible affliction or answered the many questions of spouses who were at the end of their ropes trying to cope with their husband or wife. I also would not have been there for my friend’s son trying to understand why God would make him “different” (not bipolar but something just as challenging). Of course he has taught me a lot about acceptance as well!
Chronic pain has shown me how to determine what is important in life. The difference between chronic and acute pain is that the latter is telling the brain there is something wrong – a burn, a cut, an organ that needs attention. Chronic pain will not kill you or even bring further harm. It does; however, make you stronger as you try to deal with it while maintaining as much of a normal life as possible. I have missed out on so much because I have been “too tired and/or sore” and I know people don’t understand. Heck, I don’t understand a lot of the time. However, if I had never felt any chronic pain I would probably not be writing this blog or working on a book – two things that have renewed my passion for the written word.
I am truly thankful for my family. I did not grow up in a particularly loving and happy home. My father was always working, my mother was sick most of the time and my sister left home when I was 8. There were happy times, of course, and there were just as many really bad times. My father’s strictness as both my father and my first boss (in his pharmacy) made me feel that I wasn’t good enough. My mother was wanting me to be her friend while I just wanted to be a daughter. And my sister had her own life. While I started sinking into depression at the early age of 8, it went unnoticed. But I am thankful for each one of them because they did love me in their ways and while maybe they didn’t understand me or were embarrassed, they never abandoned me through any of my struggles.
I am also very thankful for my following here. Each and every one of you give me a reason to keep writing and keep plugging through each and every challenge each and every day. I may not write as often as I would like, but you are here when I do. And I am thankful for those whom I follow because we can help each other through.