Gratitude: Exchanging complaining for appreciation

I’ve missed writing. I’ve started multiple posts over the past three months or so, only to get interrupted by something external or by my own internal distractions, like the pain, fatigue, and depression. Often, it has been a combination of both. I’ve gotten tired of being in complaint mode and chronicling the challenges, painful circumstances, and conflicted relationships I’m in. I want to be someone other than the one with the chronic issues.

I mean, they’re chronic for goodness’ sake! How much can be said about them? Who wants to hear about it all the time? Not me, that’s for sure. I’m sick of saying it. I’m sick of reading my own words about it. Since that has been where my head and heart have been at, my writing has suffered and been non-existent.

Hopefully, that’s about to change.

If you have a Facebook account, your November News Feed of other people’s status updates may have been filled with, or interspersed with, daily or weekly posts of “friends” posting things they are thankful for. Perhaps not. However, mine definitely was.

I personally know many of the people who were practicing thankfulness. It astounded me to see that people I know who are experiencing mental and physical health issues, divorces, death of loved ones, financial crisis, relationship conflicts, job loss, and other life calamities were identifying things to be thankful for in their lives. Often, multiple items on this list were going on at the same time or had overlapped during this year, much like the things I deal with on a consistent basis.

How is it that they could do this in sincerity and joy while experiencing the other things? How can they take their minds and emotions off of the struggles and the storms and rejoice in the brief sun breaks and rainbows?

It’s time for this Eeyore to explore other ways of being in this life and this world.

A handout received from Bridge City Community Church's Marc Schelske on 11/30/13

A handout received from Bridge City Community Church’s Marc Schelske on 11/30/13

I’ve realized that acceptance is not enough. I have learned to accept that I cannot change other people and their words, actions, attitudes, choices, perceptions, or interpretations of their experiences. I have come to accept that I am who I am, all of me; past & present, pleasant & unpleasant, constructive & destructive, functional & dysfunctional – at least I’m a lot more accepting of them and myself than I was a year or two ago. I’m still a work in progress on the acceptance thing.

I’ve reached the point where I accept that the situations and circumstances of my life and the world around me are as they are, regardless of my preference or comfort level. I accept and understand my contributions to these things which are and own that I’m living in the reality I created.

I have matured, grown, and changed. Some of the relational conflicts are diminished, new relationships and external engagements are being formed. However, the depression slump that I went into during September and am beginning to emerge from now, has been fairly heinous to go through, because I was still missing a critical component of recovery – gratitude.

Being grateful is not something I’ve ever really learned to do. It fell into the same category of being happy and experiencing love – emotions that you have in response and reaction to external stimuli.

Maybe that is the way it is for some people. Not so much for me. Regardless of the origins, my emotional response system is broken and dysfunctional. Perhaps, someday, a miracle will happen and it will suddenly be fixed, restored to it’s original state of functionality and endless potential. However, I cannot continue to exist in this brokenness, waiting for that to occur. I suspect the “fix” will not be a sudden, miraculous, eventful shift from the way it is to the way I want it. I believe that before that miraculous shift can or will occur, I have to prepare for it.

One of my current favorite shows is Once Upon A Time. Fractured fairy tales and fictional characters intermingled with legend and modern living, messy, conflicted relationships, and difficult to track of all the moving pieces and shifting relationships that always seem to be the same while they grow and change, realizing that the good aren’t all good and the bad aren’t all evil, sometimes. Two of the central “bad guy” characters are Regina/Evil Queen and Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. Regina has made a deal with Rumple and gotten what she wanted only to discover years later that she was still left with an emptiness inside of her. She approaches Mr. Gold and demands that he help her acquire the thing she believes will fill that hole and fulfill her in the way her previous achievement had not.

Mr. Gold: Are you ready for this?

Regina: I need this.

Mr. Gold: They are not the same thing.

I need to be a happy, content, and thriving person. I want it. I truly do. However, nothing in my life experience or in the ways I’ve learned to live my life have prepared me to be such a person. I’m fairly certain that the opportunities to experience this kind of life have been there, but I have always managed to dismiss or destroy them because they didn’t satisfy the twisted expectations of what I thought they meant. Kind of like Regina has done.

I want to be ready to experience this kind of life. In order to experience it, I have to practice it.

If you don’t have gratitude, you can’t be happy. If you don’t appreciate what you have, you can’t be content. If you aren’t grateful for and appreciative of what you have, you won’t take care of it and it won’t thrive.

What I have is enough. For this I am grateful.

The time I have is enough. For this moment I am grateful.

The people around me are enough. For them I am grateful.

Who I am is enough. For me I am grateful.

Above everything, God is enough. For this I am grateful.

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8 comments

  1. WordPress decided not to send me updates from you, so I’m catching up.

    The one thing I’ve realized is that it never really stops. Things just keep happening, and we just have to keep dealing with them. I try to practice gratitude all year, not just at Thanksgiving, because I know I’ve got it so much better than a lot of other people around the world. Sometimes, it’s enough just to have a roof and food. I’m so glad you’re taking this next step in your recovery.

    Like

    1. Mary,
      It wasn’t WordPress’ fault. I think it was mine because I “outed” myself by starting an account under my actual name for a different blog and then wrote this blog post on HiR from my phone account while logged in as the other user. Very confusing.

      Thanks for checking in and catching up. I’ll try to be less schizophrenic in my posting moving forward.

      Blessings,
      Kina/Lillian

      Like

  2. Thank you for the reference to my post on gratitude. I publish both Snide Reply, where the gratitude post appears, and Crazy Good Parent, where Le Clown posted “Things the Grandchildren Should Know.” I’m looking forward to following your writings.

    Like

    1. Janice,
      Thank you for finding my blog. Happy to meet you and I’m looking forward to reading your writing as well.

      Btw – Loving Sleepy Hollow!

      Be well,
      Lillian

      Like

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