Unforeseen Gratitude

Recently, one of my arch-rivals married the love of her life. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy for someone as I was her because this woman made life a living hell for me and others every time I dealt with her. At the time, she was in a turbulent relationship, and her personal life was in shambles. Fortunately, fate intervened, and she is now married to her perfect companion. I’m grateful because each one of us needs happiness in our lives. Sometimes we find it with that particular person, and other times we fly solo. In the end, what matters is we find true happiness to live out our best lives.

We are all facing challenges with the economy, our professional and personal lives, and dealing with those we love who are aging. Stress and anxiety are now more the norm than someone who lives with zero stress or anxiety. Our lives change rapidly because our environments adapt to an ever-changing world. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is challenging, though, and scary.

Over the weekend, I took time to reflect on the things in my life that I’m grateful for the most. As I began to write those items down, it was unique how big the list became. I’m thankful to have a roof over my head, a job that helps pay the bills, and a great support system of friends, family, and my fur baby Sadie. The love I receive from those at the church helps reinforce days where it feels like weights press against my entire body. Knowing that my faith consistently tests me is something that gives me tremendous happiness. Why? Because it means that things are changing and forcing me to grow. Sometimes that growth is scary, and other times, it’s empowering. Yet, through it all, it’s the unforeseen gratitudes that make me the most content.

If we knew every event that happened in our lives, we would often find ourselves compelled to change things. If I could change my dad’s demise, I would have, but that wouldn’t allow me to grow in the world of social media and marketing. His death was the catalyst for that event in my life. While I was angry at God, cancer, and the doctors that misdiagnosed him, I’m grateful that the knowledge of brain tumors I acquired may help save someone else’s life. That’s an immeasurable gift.

When I lost my child to a miscarriage, I was angry with the world. I thought that I was receiving lousy karma for everything I’d done in my life that was bad. The truth is that I don’t know why I couldn’t have children, but I have to believe that it was because other things in my life will take precedence. Not everyone in life can have a biological family. Sometimes the families we have are those we find along the way. If nothing else, I’m grateful for the fact that I may have lost my child but did not lose my compassion. Compassion and empathy go a long way in helping others through a difficult journey. I know that there are many other people out there that I can relate better to because of my experiences. No one should ever have to lose a child, but if they do, they need to know they have a support system out there. Sometimes that means talking to people you’ve never met. The damage that carries in a potential parent or parents’ heart is that time doesn’t always heal. We learn to adapt and cope, but that doesn’t mean that those who endure that kind of loss are ever the same. They won’t be because the pain is indescribable. You can find others to share your life with and perhaps start a new family, but that doesn’t erase the lost child.

I’m one of the biggest advocates against bullying and sexual assault. When I went through my experiences, I couldn’t talk about what had happened for years. I repressed those feelings because I didn’t want to confront what I experienced. The shame that I felt was something I couldn’t shake without attending therapy. I began to volunteer at a Sexual Assault and Resource Center and found my life got better. I learned to speak about my experiences and open myself up to new worlds. I no longer felt the need to hide behind shame. I couldn’t change the past, but I could damn sure make sure that the past did not dictate my future. Finding strength, I never knew previously, is something that was an unforeseen moment of gratitude.

Taking the rose-colored glasses on fake friendships is another thing that I am grateful for because we have to deal with volatile relationships to move forward. My circle has significantly shrunk over the years, and I’m glad. Because as we grow and evolve, sometimes the people who have been in our lives for years show they aren’t on the same page. Their story isn’t yours, and yours isn’t theirs. It’s okay to walk your path. Be true to yourself. Don’t let others make you question what you want out of life.

As we enter the workweek, I have a wish for all of you. If there are instances in your lives that create pain, try to look at the glass as half full. See what life has to offer when bad things happen. Sometimes the worst things we can deal with are creating the healthiest life down the road. Have a great day, everyone.

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