Grateful

Today, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for things every day, but my prevailing emotion on many days, as ashamed as I am to admit, is not gratitude. Something else usually takes the crown: depressed, excited, sick, silly, anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed, etc. I am many of those, and other emotions, over the course of a day (or hour!) and even simultaneously, just as I am now, though right now, the most dominant is gratitude. That itself is something to be grateful for! Yes, I am definitely in pain today, as I have been for several days; my joints have been so swollen and my muscles achy and stiff, and, like most all days, my stomach hurts. I’m tired and slept poorly, my peaceful night shattered by a vivid, violent nightmare that made sleeping after the rest of the night an impossibility. I could have taken this PTSD consequence and resultant loss of sleep as an excuse to sour my day as it began, but this happens all too often now that if I fell prey to that trap every time, I’d never get a good day. There are certainly a big handful of days that I’m not as emotionally resilient as I strive to be and I allow my intense fatigue, frustration over the persistent symptoms, and anger over the trauma (which I experience as sadness) to pollute my mood. To my credit, I think I’ve made tremendous progress in reversing the trend toward that tendency over the past six months or so; it has not been easily earned progress, which makes it all the more important for me to note this achievement even if there is still work to do. I seem programmed to identify and fixate of my faults and weaknesses, so I try to recognize when I do something well or make an improvement.

Even in my darkest moments, when I am the most depressed, hopeless, or pained, I can list things for which I am grateful. Today, those things just feel a bit stronger.

I’m thankful for my husband; he is my stable rock, my hand in the dark, my rocket fuel when my will to go on wavers, my stadium of fans consolidated into one voice cheering me on, my protector, my best friend, and the person for which my heart’s abundant love will  never tire. He seems as committed to the goal of trying to make me happy and safe as I am loyally committed to loving him, supporting him, and making his life as good as possible (when married to me!).

I’m grateful for my family, especially the close relationship I have with my mom who couldn’t possibly be more generous with her support, help, and love. My daily call with her is almost always one of the highlights of my days. She is a fount of wisdom and love that I am so blessed to drink from. The rest of my family is also a blessing, and I hope to work on strengthening those relationships as I find more effective ways to connect and communicate.

I’m thankful that my foot has been doing better and even though I have a lot of physical health problems, I’m grateful that my body functions and is strong and that I am so well in tune with the signals it sends me. For most of my life, I ignored it strong-armed the needs my body tried to communicate to my brain: hunger, fatigue, pain, etc. If the incoming messages necessitated changing my desired course of action, I did my best to tune them out. Now, I do the opposite, consciously trying to put a stethoscope up to my inner “pulse” (body signals) so that I can hear them and prioritize them.

I am grateful for my job. I love what I do. It challenges me intellectually, yet caters to my needs. When I demanding complete projects, as I did this morning, I feel proud, valuable, and accomplished. My employers are people for whom I have the utmost respect, and that further bolsters my natural internal drive to work hard and produce my best work.

I am grateful for the lovely weather we’ve been having, summer-like in its warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. The sun makes my body sing, and recharges my inner and outer smile.

I am thankful for my friends, both the ones that have stuck with me over the years and the people new to my life who are willing to build a relationship with me, even if somewhat unconventional, given my friendship challenges. I’ve been working hard on developing my social skills and I am learning to enjoy the process of getting to know people.

Today, I’m also thankful for my brain. Whether it’s considered autistic or neurodiverse or just plain weird, I feel lucky that it is what it is and that I am who I am. Yes, my brain functions differently than many people’s, and many of these differences can be quite frustrating at times, but it also works in really cool ways. I love how quickly it lets me learn things I’m interested in, how my memory is so acute (although this can be a negative when considering bad experiences), and how it can process so many thoughts and activities efficiently and concurrently.

There are at least a dozen other tangible and intangible things I’m grateful for today, including the power of my writing to help me make sense of things, when I do something that makes Ben smile or laugh (in a good way), my fortunate upbringing, warm socks, Comet, my freedoms, my comfortable bedding, British chick lit books, the degree to which I can truly love others and certain passions, my home, headphones, wax melts, living in a safe and privileged country, my strengths and talents, the library, people who are accepting and kind, the beauty in nature, among many others.

Today, like all of my days, has its challenges, but like almost all of my days, it also has its plentiful gifts. Tomorrow will as well, and I’ll try to appreciate them no matter what.

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