Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.— Cicero
Around Thanksgiving, a lot of people talk about being thankful when what they really mean is they are happy that… things like, I’m thankful for having the day off of work or I’m thankful for the shopping sales or I’m thankful that my mother lives 1,500 miles away and I don’t have the money for a plane ticket. The holiday’s presumed (and incorrectly invoked) basis becomes a cover for laziness, greed, family dysfunction, and a whole host of other negative desires and emotions. This is, I believe, extremely distasteful and a perversion of the whole point of the holiday… but I’ve also learned to let this go and focus on, well, me.
On Tuesday, my aunt called and invited me to Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s house. She apologized for the late notice and offered to figure out some way to accommodate our dietary concerns. Of course, I already had plans that I wasn’t about to cancel, so I called back yesterday to decline (and arrange to be part of the family’s Christmas festivities, which will be odd, but I digress…). I sent M. a joking text message saying I was grateful that she was coming over so that I had an excuse without having to lie, but since then I’ve been reconceptualizing that situation… it isn’t that I’m thankful to have an alibi (of sorts) but, rather, I’m grateful for a whole host of other things.
I’m grateful I am learning to take care of myself, part of which was setting up my own holiday plans rather than sitting around waiting for someone else to ask me along. (To be fair, several sober people DID extend invitations, all of which I declined.) If I hadn’t taken charge of that, I would have been left on Tuesday wanting to be part of something but not really wanting to be part of THAT something, and I would have been consumed with guilt and resentment and anger, and I would have felt compelled to say yes and “be the better person” and “suck it up” and just go. (Which is all in my head anyhow, since my dad’s family isn’t really mean to me — they just remain unaware and ignorant of all the things we had to suffer through growing up and still think of my father as a good dad….) But anyhow… (you had to know this was coming…)
I am grateful for/that…
the ability to grow and heal; the program and all the people brought into my life through its rooms; my children, who continue to teach me humility and patience; the mamas, who have given me friendships with women that I never thought possible; the grace which continues to bless me every day; my health (especially being tumor-free); my sobriety (both physical and emotional); finally having health, vision, and dental insurance; my job, which allows me to work on my own time and make sure I’m taking care of myself first; and all the people who have hurt me, since through forgiving them, I can allow myself to be forgiven.
And I mean this from the bottom of my heart: Namaste.