Thanksgiving. A Little Late.

This is a little late, but I want to share a few thoughts about Thanksgiving. The original “thanksgiving” (little “t”) was about being thankful for simple, everyday things. Thanksgiving (capital “T”) was originally a formal feast between colonists and Native Americans to celebrate some of those everyday things. I’m providing that small piece of information because we often say Thanksgiving is about spending time with family. It is that too, but I have a greater understanding of thanksgiving.

I have spent many Thanksgiving days feeling as though I should be grateful, but if I had been honest, I did not feel that way. Oh sure, I could come up with things to share that I was thankful for. I absolutely had things to be grateful for. It’s just that I didn’t feel thankful overall. It was difficult to be thankful or grateful when so much feels wrong.

Feeling depressed and wondering if you will ever truly snap out of it makes it difficult to be thankful. I never imagined that this straight-A student-athlete with high hopes and a future all planned out would be where I am. Yet here I am. No amount of being grateful for the things and people around me could remove that cloud, especially when shame would whisper that I didn’t deserve any of it anyway.

This year felt different.

I was suddenly sick on November 5th. After several weeks of doctor’s appointments and labs, my doctor finally prescribed a medication. It was almost immediate relief. That relief came just before a trip to Michigan to see my family. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was about that trip too! I was going to see so much of my family.

My parents; brother, his wife, and his two boys; sister and her partner (as well as two of her boys and four of her grandkids!); my husband and son were all going to be there. While there, my second(?) cousin also showed up at my parent’s house. It was so good to see everyone.

It had been a while since my siblings and I had a “sibling breakfast.” This was a tradition that started several years ago when we realized how much we have in common. We have pretty decent gaps in our ages, but that hasn’t been a factor for years. The cool part about this breakfast was we allowed spouses to come. We also had some amazing empanadas thanks to my sister-in-law! My brother and sister-in-law hosted a pretty great breakfast with free-flowing coffee.

We all celebrated Thanksgiving together, and some of us celebrated Christmas knowing we would be returning home.

My parents hosted all of the dinners and most of the get-togethers. Coffee was free-flowing there too. They provided a relaxing place to be, and it seemed as though love flowed freely throughout the entire extended weekend.

You see, I had some difficult times (more than just the health struggles I mentioned), but I also had some amazing things to be thankful for. It isn’t that anything has changed, really. I am in the same exact position as I have been for years. Not much has changed with my physical state. I still have Lupus and Depression. I still wish I could be living out the dream I had for myself. The difference? SELF. For a few months now, I have been able to practice the 8 C’s, and I am catching much more quickly when I am not mySELF (Internal Family Systems reference).

I think the turning point for me was the rupture and repair of the therapeutic relationship that I wrote about in Power Rangers and Parts. What was necessary to repair that relationship for me? Explanation, understanding, compassion, an apology, listening and sharing a need. To do those things, I had to be vulnerable and incredibly courageous. I needed to be open-minded with myself and my therapist. That has cascaded into nearly every other relationship and situation I have faced since. That series of events taught me so much and allowed me to walk more upright. The thing about being authentic and vulnerable is that it opens the door to things like thankfulness and gratitude, among other things.

Thanksgiving felt different this year, but it was likely because I have been able to practice thanksgiving every day.

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