Thankfulness is a journey. You don’t get there by sitting still. However, don’t be alarmed. This isn’t a post about how everything happens for a reason, and it will all be okay. If you know me then you know I think most of that is utter nonsense. And if I had to choose between being an optimist or a pessimist, I’d choose to be a realist. Because ultimately when things get out of control, and you are struggling, only you can dust yourself off and keep fighting.
I also understand that through time and reflection, I can now look back at times in my life that I thought were the absolute worst and be thankful. Because without those failures or disappointments I might not be who I am. And I like who I am, at least 67 percent of the time.
The not just broken, but shattered heart.
My heart had been broken before but more like little tiny cracks. I didn’t know the depths of true heart break until I ended a multi-year relationship with a man I had loved without restraint. But love is simply not enough to build a life together. If you think love is enough, you are wrong. There are so many other factors that determine if you can make it in the long run. It took years to heal from this. I acted out; I made bad choice; I put myself in bad situations. Anything to escape the utter hole I felt in my chest. I came out of it though. It led me to a more honest conversation with myself. I’m not completely perfect. I’m not completely healed. Some things simply can’t be removed from your heart. But I am unbelievably thankful for this hurt. It helped me, for the first time, realize that love wasn’t really about sacrifice or trying to shape yourself into what someone else was comfortable with. It gave me a healthy comparison to where I am now. And allowed me to be so very sure that I am where I need to be.
Not every opportunity will be the right fit. Learn what you can.
So I’ve had a variety of jobs: some good, some bad, some horrific, some just mind numbing. I’ve had every kind of boss you can think of: the crazy one, the arrogant one, the leader, the cheerleader, the friend, the idiot, the ghost. I’ve had some bad experiences. Everything from a boss telling me I was replaceable and fat to ones trying to get me to be unethical. One the other side, I’ve had bosses that appreciated me, believed in me and helped me be successful. There were a lot of tears shed and a huge cloud of self-doubt. But I took what I could learn from each of them and sorted it into things I should do and things I would never do. A lot of people dwell on bad experiences in the workplace. I could too. I’ve been sexually harassed, seen my opportunities and paycheck be less than that for a man and dealt with “mean girls” who thought the workplace was junior high. Don’t drag this baggage around. Just know that you can do better. And that you deserve better.
It’s so okay to let people go.
I’ve had to let a lot of people go in my life. It wasn’t always their fault, but a decision I needed to make to protect myself. I had a friend of almost 20 years who I loved dearly. She was family. But she changed. And with that change came a lot of anger focused on me and others I love. So I just let her go. I wish her the best, but she doesn’t get to hurt me ever again. It was so heartbreaking at the time. Now I can be thankful, thankful that I protected myself instead of trying to reconcile and take the abuse. There have been many more that aren’t part of my life anymore because I made the choice to say no. I chose to put myself first. No one else will protect you but you. If you let people mistreat you then you are facilitating that so just stop it. It will be hard. It will suck. You will cry. You will heal. Surround yourself with those that really want you to succeed and be happy. Practice some self love. I’m eternally grateful that I had the courage to cut the cord.
Being sick doesn’t mean you have to be a victim.
I’ve had my share of health problems. It’s not been easy. There have been times when I’ve had rows of prescriptions. There have been days of excruciating pain; days where I wanted to just give up. But I will NEVER be a victim. I will fight with every last breath to stay here on this earth for as long as I can. I’ve got work to do. I’ve got people to empower and stories to tell.
It’s easy to become a victim. It’s easy to be so absorbed with your ailments that you can’t see past hospital rooms and procedures. I’m not saying I never had a pity party. I did. I felt cheated, frustrated and just tired of it all. Again, I’m not saying I’ve always been uplifting or thought the glass was half full. I prefer to smash the glass off the table, and say there is no glass. There’s just me, standing up, maybe sometimes with a little help from the love I’m thankful to be surrounded by, and saying this is not the end of me. I’m much too scrappy for that.
It takes work to be thankful. It’s not something that’s natural. Even though you can’t be thankful in the moment (I never believed in a million years that a broken heart, an abusive boss or a cancer diagnosis would be on the list of thankful), time passing can certainly change your perspective. So when someone asks you what you are thankful for this week, don’t just say the normal, cliché answers, dig deeper to the ugly stuff that you never thought you’d be thankful for and realize what an absolute rock star you are for making it this far.