Practicing gratitude even when it is really hard

As someone who practices gratitude as a sort of religion – or as close to religion as this gal gets – I have to dig deep to reap that chunky muddy murky ultimately life giving reward. I am not blessed. I reap what I sow and I have sowed some shitty business along with all the good and kindness I’ve tried to share.

My gratitude is messy. I am thankful for all the hard things I’ve walked clawed screamed cried run wandered lost through to get me where I am today. I am thankful for the hard days where I want to quit and I am thankful for the days that feel like they came out of a hallmark movie. I am thankful for sickness and health, I am thankful for normalcy. Always thankful for normalcy. I am thankful for friendships with women. Longstanding and renewed and newly found. They are my lifeblood. I am thankful for my family and my kids and my community. I am thankful for my justified anger. I am thankful for civilized one on one conversations that engender change or at least perspective. I am most thankful for pie and cats. You heard me.

Things don’t always happen for a reason. There are definitely times when we are given more than  we can handle. It can cause anybody to crumble, to weaken their resolve, to beg for mercy. When it seems hardest to find is when I need gratitude the most.

Nobody ever said real gratitude was an easy ask.

I am irritatingly positive in  a sea of fish who swim upstream to search for reasons to complain. It wears on me. I am not blind. I am not naive, not anymore. I am angry about a lot of things right now and gratitude doesn’t come nearly as easily as it used to – even just a couple years ago.

Each morning I wake up, I choose first to not drink and then to practice gratitude. It is hard. It is not fake. It is not glamorous or false or surface level bullshit. It is life saving business that keeps me going every single day.

It is gratitude for this life and all I get to be and experience each and every day if I choose to do so. If I choose to participate. THAT is what I mean by practicing gratitude.  Similar to choosing hope each day – which is incredibly hard to do – practicing gratitude means seeking out what there is to be thankful for. How can I learn from this? How can I be of service? How can I make this not about me but in turn take something away from this experience that will make me a kinder, gentler, yet also stronger human. Helping other people and connection is really ultimately what we all want – fight me.

I have anxiety, depression and an addiction to alcohol. I carry those things with me but they don’t carry me. I am on the lookout for these things in my kids and honestly, once you’ve carried them around so long, you recognize it immediately in humans around you. What an honor that is. To see and be seen by others who have the same mental illnesses as you is entirely comforting. What a time to be alive where so many can say, “yeah I get it and you’re ok.” Because we are all recovering from something. Because so many of us have been out here shining a light on this stuff for years and will keep doing just that. This is normal stuff and nobody should have to feel less than because they need help.

It’s not easy to practice gratitude. It’s about being seen and heard and respected and yet asking for help when I need it while also being incredibly resilient. Even in the most monotonous and mundane moments of motherhood, of life. Those moments that nobody else sees, those not projected on social media or even to our neighbors. Those moments where I want to give up and run away or at least hide for a while, those are the moments I need to cling to gratitude the most.  Because it works. Maybe not immediately, maybe not even in ways I expect to see, it always works if I practice it every single day.

I loathe all holidays and wish they were banished (while making the most of them at the same time – see? complicated), but I do want to say I’m thankful for you and glad you’re all here. You all who’ve been here for going on 10 years since this blog started, I thank you.  You new or intermittent readers, I thank you. You who found me through your mom or because you have a drinking problem or are going through infertility? I thank you. I see you, I hear you, I honor you.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember to find what you’re thankful for on this day (and every day), even if it’s really hard.  It helps, I promise. Practicing gratitude works. On this day or any holiday, if you are sad or anxious or depressed (for no discernible reason because even when surrounded by family you can feel these things!) or feeling left out, just remember what I always tell you. What I’ve been telling you for years and will continue to tell you – it’s just one day. We can do anything for 24 hours. Now that is something to be thankful for. Just. Hang. On.

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One Reply to “Practicing gratitude even when it is really hard”

  1. Finding positive in something every day is something I embarked upon a few years ago, and I agree, while hard, it’s so essential! Your blogs are one of my positives; they are like a little surprise treat that randomly show up in my inbox, and they always remind me to keep pushing to be a better person. Keep being you, because you are an inspiration. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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