CHOG #25 - ARE YOU THANKFUL?
I have so much to be thankful for and I take it as such a given that I am blessed immeasurably, that most of the time I forget to actually be thankful in a truly meaningful way. In the “thankful” chapter of my book, INSERT GIGGLE GIGGLE, Laughing Your Way through Raising Kids and Running a Business”, I confess to not really thinking much about being thankful or having a spirit of thankfulness until something bad happens; and maybe not to me, but most often to someone else and then I think, boy, I’m thankful not to be dealing with that. Now that looks very self-centered, doesn’t it? With my Giggle Chogs, I have tried to always be as truthful to you as I try to be with myself, and I think that most of us can look at something in our lives or in the news and say, out loud or to ourselves, that we are so thankful that we are not dealing with that situation or catastrophe. Obviously, I have extreme sympathy and empathy for those that are struggling, so what may seem like a selfish thing for me to feel, I think instead it makes me have a feeling of humbleness and thankfulness that whatever IS going on with me, it isn’t really that tough and can put me back on the right track of not feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes when you know of something so tragic that is going on with someone else, you can once again think of so many who would give anything to have your trivial burden. Now, I’m not saying that I live a charmed life and all my woes and tribulations are inconsequential, but sometimes a perspective is good to have.
For instance, when Hayden was born 5 weeks prematurely, he was placed in the neonatal unit of the hospital. Steve and I were the only ones that could see him (and my family had waited through 10 years of our marriage for this first grandchild that was now not accessible!) and it was only at certain times of the day, outfitted head-to-toe in scrubs, and washing our hands all the way to the elbow until we were raw. While feeling sad all the while about our situation, Hayden (at 4 pounds) was the biggest and healthiest baby in the unit. His sucking reflex had not yet “kicked in” was about all that was wrong with him and after I was discharged a week after his birth, he had to stay (alone in the hospital is how I looked at it) for an additional week. When my pediatrician came into the room to tell me this news, I was devastated. I couldn’t face going home without my baby. After tears were shed and he quietly sat with me, mustering all the strength and courage I thought this horrible situation demanded of a good mother, I finally said, “But please don’t worry about me, I’ll be okay, whatever is best for him is what we need to do”. Don’t worry about ME! I guess he thought what sort of selfish person exactly was I? His response: “I’m not worried about you because Hayden is going to be just fine. I’m worried about the parents in the room down the hall that I’m going to have to tell that the medical procedure we thought would work, didn’t, and what might be next for their baby”. And boy, did that shut me up. I have thought about that pivotal moment in my life so many other times when something has “happened” to me that I thought was awful. There is ALWAYS someone who would give anything they have to be in my position.
Now, does that mean that you can’t ever be sad about a situation that befalls you or someone you love just because there is death and destruction, famine and pestilence in the world? Of course not. Your life is your life and your emotions and reactions are personal to you and you are right to have them. However, just try, during a time of strife, to look at the situation with some perspective and maybe a way to resolve instead of lounging in the misery of the situation, which so many of us may tend to do. We all know people, and maybe even ourselves, that succumb to the attention from others that most always accompanies a tough situation. If we have a loving family and the support of friends, we can be enveloped in their care of us, mentally and physically, during a tough spot in our lives. And this is a good thing. What so often isn’t a good thing, is to do nothing to prepare for the rest of our lives, and in fact, the almost immediate future of getting on with things. The death of someone we love, the loss of a job, a catastrophic event-fire or flood-that destroys everything we have, a bad accident or physical injury of some sort, and on and on. All these things require our sadness. They so often require our pulling away from everything else around us and wrapping ourselves in this misery. But what they also require is perspective and planning. Now, I can’t say how quickly, and I’m certain the timing depends on what the tragedy is, but one thing is for certain - No matter what the tragedy is, life does go on. The sun does come up the next day. There are people in your life that are depending on you and on your love and support of them. And at some point, in the grieving or depression, this has to be taken into consideration and dealt with. And even maybe more importantly, you depend on you.
An example of what I am describing above happened to someone I know years ago. I won’t give too many details because this is someone else’s private matter, but it goes something like this: This person was diagnosed with cancer. Of course, this was devasting to her and her family and friends. A quite aggressive medical intervention was necessary and before it all started, she put in motion divorce proceedings. Yes, you read that correctly. I was stunned! Didn’t this person now need her husband more than ever, not only for comfort and support but realistically for all the logistics of managing her care? But no. She was facing very uncertain outcomes and months of debilitating mental and physical trials and she said that she could not focus on all of that while dealing with the unhealthy and unsustainable situation that had been going on in her marriage for years. After I got over the ramifications to her of what I thought about all this (which was obviously none of my business), I thought it was one of the bravest things I had ever witnessed. Years later, healthy and happy, she is thriving in a new relationship and came out on the other side of this tough, terrible dual-situation, by anyone’s standards, renewed. She said that in many ways she was thankful for the turn her life took, forcing this attention on her “unhealthy” marital situation. Amazing perspective. Sort of like a Lou Gehrig moment.
Obviously, not all catastrophic situations (and that is relevant to any of our lives) results in a person being “better off” for getting through it. That’s not really what I am trying to say or trying to get anyone to strive for. I can think of all sorts of life events that you never get over, that you are never the same as you were before, in body or in spirit, while also knowing that some type of failures and defeats make a person stronger. But what I would like for us to keep in mind, sometimes in the very recesses of our brain that we aren’t even aware of at the time, is that our life goes on, can go on, must go on. Don’t ever mask your feelings, don’t ever pretend they don’t exist, but also don’t give in to the despair that prevents you to look at so many other things in your life, past-present-and in the future, that will bring you so much happiness, purpose, and satisfaction, not because someone else is less fortunate than you or going through something so much worse than you, but because your life and presence is essential for other’s happiness thus for your happiness as well. That knowledge and certainty is how you can pull yourself up from the abyss and once again be thankful for what you do have.
I am thankful for my life experiences, and yes, even the failures. You know, the old adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If that was really true, it would seem that we might need to search for a situation “to get through” and be a stronger, better person. Well, that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? I think what it really means is when a tough spot does hit, and it happens to everyone, look for those things that make you grateful to be who you are and what you mean to others and just do whatever it takes, in your own personal time and way, to get back to being that person.
Next up…. Do You Text?
Always remember to feel thankful every day and to insert a giggle giggle ~ Kay😊