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THE JOURNEY TO GRATITUDE

I have never come to gratitude easily.It usually comes after much pain and suffering,or through a discovery of what I have been missing in my life.

BEfore I go into that,though,there are many kinds of gratitude one can have,sometimes what would seem insignificant to those of us in the United States in a land of affluence compared to 2/3 of the world.  The gratitude that food is plentiful.The gratitude that my husband and I both have jobs,the graitude I felt when I had lazik eye surgery and could see like a normal person for the first time at age 61.

There can be the gratitude of a paraplegic who discoveres he can move one of his fingers,or the person who has had a cochlear implalnt and can finally hear beautiful music.  There is the gratiude that I dont live in Somalia,or Afghanistan or Siberia, or some other totalitarian country

There is the gratitude that I have a close family..three healthy grown kids and two healthy grandkids. Even though my own family of origin was severly broken.  All these and many more I forget to thank God each day for.

But what I really want to talk about today is gratitude earned through great emotional pain.  25 years ago I stopped drinking alcohol,which I had been using for 20 + years to medicate my underlying depression.  Without alcohol to dull the pain and give the rosy glow to things mundane I felt like I was stepping out of techicolor back into black and white,like in the Wizard of Oz. I began a long and arduous journey of recovery,with no support from family,motivated by wanting to be there for my kids and break the chain of abuse and neglect that I had suffered. While I never abused my kids I was spaced out alot of the time,in my own world of pain and sorrow of lost dreams and disappointments in how life had turned out. It took years to begin to discover how to find my own happiness through hard recovery work in 2 `12 step programs,as well as years of therapy.  Finally I reached a plateau,and felt my life was going ok,happy to finally become a grandmother,which fulfilled my feelings of loss after menopause.  And so my life went on,kind of like a conveyer belt,nothing too upsetting,nothing too spectacular,either,except my time with the grandkids.And my work with my disabled clients.

And I thought I was done.With my life work.  And settled in to a familiar rhythm,thinking parts of what i had yearned for when I was young were never to be.And I grew into acceptance.Maybe more resignation.

But I didn't feel gratitude.

God fixed that with a curve ball coming out of left field so fast I didn't know what hit me.

I was vacationing in Florida with family at a friend's house,innocently going to my political websites(I had been active campaigning for Obama) and latched on to a webpage on Empathy. This appealed to me,as I had always thought I had alot of empathy,even a therapist had told me this.  so I joined a discussion there and saw two entries that spoke to me.I answered them both on the site.sort of knowing that one was better than the other because it tweaked something in me.The one guy answered back."I wonder how some people get through the things they do and others dont".  This immediately set me,being rather an open person,to telling a bit of my story,expecting nothing earth shattering in return.

But the next day,there was another letter,this time in my personal mailbox.

And so it began.Like photography in fast motion the flower that was me opened quickly,and was almost blinded by the light I saw there.  I returned home and we continued to write,sharing our stories with each other,bit by bit,him saying "I cant keep up" as my words were flying out of me at warp speed.My soul was opened up and now it could not shut. I had never in all my6 5 years ever experienced this before!

He is a poet.His words did and still do bring me intantly to tears,or joy. He was a mystery,living alone,after several failed relationships,devoting his whole life to pursuing his truth.  I was so amazed by this,and by his courage,and his reflecting me back to me,that I felt I was speeding toward my center and his with no brakes.soon emotional sharing became desire and desire became love.  I lay awake at night aching for him,wanting nothing as much as to be with him,but he knew,and he held me at bay,and tried to do the right thing.And so it went on for five months,emails flying back and forth,getting in deeper and deeper.  I didn't care what the cost,all I could see was being with him.I had never felt,in all my 65 years,such a total feeling of loving and being loved. And I knew then that I had been starved for it my whole life,and he knew it too and it was torture for him to hold back,I know now,because I was already taken,and so,one day,after I pushed just once too far,he broke the connection swiftly,coldly and cleanly. And the very thing I had waited a lifetime for suddenly was gone.just like that.

I descended into hell.  I cried for a month,I cared about nothing.I felt like someone had died.I felt the loss of my last chance at love,and I grieved for all the losses as far back as I could remember.There had been a block of ice in my heart that melted and the feelings had come all the way to the top and all the way down to the deepset pit of darkness.I thought of checking out,but I couldn't do that to my kids or grandkids.

Finally I realized that he  really wasn't coming back and I began the long slow climb up the steep rocky mountain going forth two feet,falling back three,until I finally began to reach out for help. I talked to my pastor,my friends,went to an energy healer,restorative reiki,meetings,meetings meetings. The pain began to lift,and I was slowly accepting what was real and what I had to change there.And so I began making changes. No more bullying, no more staying home watching  DH drink and ignore me.I beegan to travel and visit friends,and I began to have fun again.  Oh sure,the man I loved was still in a corner of my mind,but I was able to tuck him away and go about life normally at last.It took four months.

And It took just a little longer for the gratitude.  I wrote in here every day,slowly purging the demons that were tearing me apart.At first my poetry was angry and tragic,then it began to change,almost without me knowing it.And then, one day I knew.I knew what this wonderful man was trying to tell me.  I needed to find the truth within myself.And he was my mirror,my catalyst. But what I really began to realize was the honor and bravery in what he did when he broke the connection.  He was lonely too,and I was giving something to him,I know,.But he had honor and he gave me up,for my sake,to keep my family intact because he knew that I really never could have left them,(family being of utmost importance to me)much as I wanted to be with him.And he was not the kind of guy to have a "same time next year" relationship.It would be all or nothing.

so,This Thanksgiving,along with the usual things I am thinkful for like health and family and abundance in material things,and faith and friends and hope, I am most grateful most of all for this anti hero,who I call my very own Sydney CArton.who gave up me so I could save my family.

And I will always love him for that,as well as his many other special qualities,like his own self work at being a parent,under totally insane conditions,and his meeting his losses,his darkenss fully,and still able to bring joy into a friend's baby's life,or makea beautiiful deck for a freind who had helped him,(for free),or cleaning out the debris in his cottage,left by his deparitng second wife,soon to be lost in sale,and making it a welcomeing place for friends to break bread with him.

And my only regret is that I cant be there,eating his hot biscuits. But I thank him for who he is,and he lives in my heart forever. And,being a member of this site,I hope he reads this.

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