Thankfulness

I think I need to work at being more thankful.  I tend to be a “glass half (or more) empty” type person.  And that’s something I don’t like about myself.  I don’t fully understand why this is my tendency, but I recognize it.  And I try to change it.
 
To be certain, my life has not been especially easy or blessed.  It has been an uphill climb, wrought with struggles, challenges, difficulties, wounds and trauma.  I’ve had to fight and work diligently to get to the starting line…the place where most people being their journey…because of the abuse I experienced during my formative years.  But having said that, I do still have things for which to be thankful.
 
I’ve experienced extended periods of unemployment and they have devastated me financially.  But I do have a job at the moment, in spite of the economic stress we are experiencing in this country.  It doesn’t pay as well as I would hope, but it pays better than many of the positions I applied for or that are open at this time. If I weren’t so horribly in debt because of a series of negative vents, I would be doing okay.  Having a job that pays reasonably well is certainly something to be thankful for, even if I can’t make ends meet because of my specific situation.
 
The benefits aren’t great, but they provide a base level of coverage that is certainly better than having no insurance at all.  Another thing to be thankful for.
 
I’m miraculously able to show up and make something happen at that job almost every day.  Considering the fact that I battle pretty overwhelming depression, anxiety attacks, PTSD and have an active eating disorder, that’s fairly amazing.  A lot of people who have gone through the types of things I have experienced in my life are not able except at a very low level.  Some are not able to function at all. 
 
I have a slightly above average intelligence and that has helped me tremendously in my life.  People who don’t have that edge are usually not able to achieve what I have achieved without a great deal of education, experience, training and mentoring by someone who is helping them to move ahead.  I’ve not had a mentor.  I never made it to college, other than to take various job-related classes.  I’ve had a lot of training and I’ve made the most of it.  I’ve also studied on my own, devouring books when I needed knowledge in specific areas.  And I now have over 20 years of experience in my field.  I will never be a top executive.  I’ll probably never earn into the six figure bracket the way I once hoped.  But considering I basically have only a high school education that has been supplemented as noted above, I’ve done well.  My brain has made that possible.  That’s certainly something to be thankful for.
 
I have a fairly nice house.  It’s not fancy.  It’s not huge.  But it’s not a hovel either.  It sits on a cul-de-sac with a greenbelt behind, so I have a little more peace and privacy than most.  Which is very important to me.  It has a lot of windows and high ceilings, allowing light to flood most of the rooms.  This is something I need and crave because I have seasonal affective disorder.  I need the light.  Lots of light.  And the higher ceilings are important because I become even more depressed and slightly claustrophobic if I feel the walls and ceiling pressing in on me.  I also appreciate having an attached garage.  I like being able to pull my car in and close the door behind me before getting out.  It makes me feel safer.  And not having to get out in the weather is also a bonus.
 
Waiting inside my house, I have the two most wonderful little Miniature Schnauzers on the face of the earth.  That’s certainly something to be thankful for.  They greet me with wiggles, dancing and yipping for joy when I walk in.  I get kisses as they vie for attention, longing to be petted and held.  They fill my house with life.  In the evenings, they snuggle with me on the couch, lying on my lap.  And at night, they cuddle close, keeping me warm, kissing my nose or hand from time to time.  We are pack mates.  They love me totally, completely, unconditionally.  They need me.  I need them.  They give me a reason to keep going; to get up in the morning.  I’m very thankful for their sweet, innocent, tender little hearts and humbled that they have been entrusted into my care.
 
Even though I feel alone, and though I am alone in many ways, I do have a brother.  If everything fell out from under me, I think, hope, pray, he would do something to help me if he could.  He is angry with me because I have an eating disorder.  He tells me often that I simply need to stop my stupid behavior.  Same with the depression.  He believes I would no longer be depressed if I would do positive things.  Such as volunteering.  Getting involved at church.  Stop thinking negative, depressed thoughts and smile.  Many, many times he has told me that I need to start doing the right things.  Today.  At this moment.  Choose to do what is right (not throw up, not give in to depression and the struggle it causes with inertia, for example).  Do it.  Then do it again the next moment.  And the next.  Until I am miraculously over whatever it was that I was struggling with.  Unfortunately, it truly isn’t that simple or easy.  There are so many crazy factors involved and though I know I am my own worst enemy, there’s so much more to it than he comprehends…or that I even understand.  Yet, I believe he cares.  I think he wants the best for me.  That is also something to be thankful for.
 
I also have a couple of friends who I know care about me, in spite of my glaring flaws, faults and deficiencies.  I rarely see them.  Still, I know they care.  This is yet another thing for which to give thanks.
 
My problem in all of this is that though I am grateful, I find myself incredibly overwhelmed by the lack and emptiness and hardships of my life.  To give you an example, I have one friend who lives not far from me.  She is one of the ones who truly cares.  But I hardly ever see her, nor do I often have contact with her.  Because she is very busy with her own life and her own family.  She’s there…but NOT here, where I need her.  Another example would be my brother.  He loves me, but he blames me.  He’s frustrated with me.  He thinks I have the control needed to simply walk out of all my problems and that if I would only stop doing the bad and start doing the good, like magic, I would be fine!  Walla!  The sun would shine, the bills would be paid, I would get a raise (or a better job), I would have friends, happiness, wholeness, relationships, abundance.  He believes the way I think and act is destroying me and that’s my fault.  My choice.  So I need to choose differently and act differently.  Because of his (possibly correct) assumption and attitude toward me, I feel rejected and as if I’m a worthless failure.  It hurts.  So in both instances, the relationships, such as they are, leave me feeling alone, empty, isolated and unwanted.  They leave me needing something more.
 
My financial challenges tend to make me feel so overwhelmed, I have anxiety attacks.  I can’t sleep.  I am terrified of what will befall me; that moment when I can’t pay bills or juggle expenses any longer.  So even though I have a job with a reasonable salary, I’m getting further and further behind.  I foresee losing my home and not being able to afford another.  Credit being destroyed because I can no longer pay the ridiculous interest the credit cards levy when you get in the hole.  My fault.  Yes.  Just like my depression and eating disorder and worthlessness and fearfulness are all my fault.  And I feel so stupid.  Because I know living on credit cards is one of the dumbest things a person can do.  But I did it when I lost my job on two different occasions.  I did it when I had to have four different surgeries and my portion of the medical bills was beyond my means.  I did it when I had to pay my counselor, when I needed tires for my car, when my car needed to be maintained or repaired, when my dogs were sick and needed to go to the vet.    Couple that with an out-of-control eating disorder that costs a preposterous amount of money as I struggle to buy groceries to get me through the week and it keeps getting worse and worse.  So though I make a reasonably good salary, the guillotine hanging over my head is almost more than I can bear.  I simply don’t know what to do to get out of this mess. 
 
I am thankful.  It’s just that I have needs that go far beyond what is available to me.   I am on a sinking ship with no lifeboat and little hope.  And I can’t swim.  I need a miracle…without one, I’m probably not going to survive.
 
I also fear the future as I get older and older, all alone.  I so wanted to share life with someone who would love me.  Someone I could love and trust and give myself to fully and completely.  Someone who would believe in me and who would find the person I am to be worth loving, caring for, cherishing, keeping.  My heart aches, throbs, longs for this.  Instead, I have my two little dogs who wag their stubby tails every time they see me.  They jump up and down for joy and can’t get enough stroking.  Belly rubs are heaven. They follow me everywhere and would come to work with me joyfully if I allowed it.  But even they cannot bring to me the fulfillment my heart has so long desired.  They fill a need.  A big need.  Just not every need.  I am thankful for them.  I adore them.  They are my world.   But them being in my life doesn’t heal the bleeding, oozing, overwhelming wound in my heart.
 
I am thankful this Thanksgiving season.  Truly I am.  And certainly, I’m thankful life is not worse than it is.  I’m thankful for the things I do have.  Yet I feel terrible that I need something more.  I feel terrible that there are so many areas of lack causing me to despair.  Things that steal my joy.  And that etch the pain ever deeper into my raw and broken soul.
 
In spite of all the difficulties and hard times, may we all find many things in life to be thankful for. 
 
 
 

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