Waiting inside the house my family provides, 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, dances, and yips of joy when I arrive, even if I’ve only been gone long enough to check the mail. 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 even more. 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.Though I am very alone, having experienced the collapse of my marriage when my spouse left me for another woman, I have family who loves me, even though I don’t think I deserve their love. I also have a couple of friends who 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 lack, emptiness, and the hardships of my life. I try to look for the positives, to find things for which to be grateful, but it’s often not easy. There are so many difficulties, hurts, and needs. So much brokenness and destruction. My financial challenges tend to make me feel so overwhelmed, I have anxiety attacks. I can’t sleep. I am terrified of what is going to become of me if I can’t find work soon. I’ve been looking since February and though I’ve been in a professional position for over 20 years, I can’t even find something as unskilled as a receptionist position. My teeth need a lot of work and I don’t have the money to fix them. My car is very old. I am often overwhelmed with depression and anxiety. I fight an eating disorder and feelings of worthlessness. I also have a hard time forming meaningful connections and healthy relationships. And I feel so stupid. Because I got myself into a mess somehow and I can’t find a way out. I am thankful. It’s just that I have fairly desperate needs that extend far beyond the meager resources available to me. I am on a sinking ship with no lifeboat and little hope. And I can’t swim. I need a few major miracles…without which, 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. But even they cannot bring to me the fulfillment my heart has so long desired. They fill a need. A big need. Just not that one special 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, nor does it completely chase the loneliness away. I am thankful this Thanksgiving season. Truly I am. In spite of all the (seemingly) impossible challenges I face. And certainly, I’m thankful life is not worse than it is. I could be on the street right now, without my precious Schnauzers, living under a bridge. Yet, I feel terrible because I need so much more. I feel terrible that there are so many areas of lack. I’ve failed to overcome. I am consumed by despair. For there are many things that steal my joy. Things that etch the pain ever deeper into my raw and broken soul. Today is a day to give thanks for what we have. I’m attempting to do that. I hope, in spite of all the difficulties and hard times each of us may be facing, we all find many things in life for which to be thankful. Even if we have to look long and hard to find them. Even if every moment is a struggle for survival. I hope you have more blessings than hardships. I hope we can all find something to cling to that gives us the strength to continue. Even if the darkness of our world is threatening to consume us like a Thanksgiving turkey. There are always leftovers. And they can be quite tasty.
I have been trying 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, thanks to my parents. The past 10 years have also been especially brutal. But, having said that, I do still have things for which to be thankful. On the negative side, I’ve experienced extended periods of unemployment and they have devastated me financially. I don’t even have a job at the moment and the little unemployment that was available to me ran out long ago. But thanks to my brother, his wife, and my aunt, I do have a roof over my head, even though I lost my house along with my last job. I don’t know what I would do without their help, but I do know I would be homeless. I’m thankful for my family and a warm place to live this winter.