When everything started falling apart two years ago, they promised me that one day I would be able to look back on this experience and have an attitude of gratitude. I think it was meant to inspire hope, but at the time, I think my flame of hope was smothered by a blanket of cynicism. I can be pretty transparent and I'm sure the skepticism was oozing out of me as they talked about the process and where gratitude fit into the picture.
But wouldn't you know it... They were right.
It seems the longer I'm on this journey, and the more storms I weather, the more I recognize the gratitude. The lessons learned and insights gained have made this life so much richer.
My kids came home from their vacation with their dad and in an instant there were flip flops everywhere, toys strewn about, and an endless stream of requests for snacks, gum, music, and help with this, that, and the other. And I found myself immersed in my role as a mother once again, and I was so grateful for these three little miracles and the meaning they add to my life. For better or worse, I don't know that there's ever been a time in my life when I've appreciated them more. It was so easy to take them for granted and to feel overwhelmed by the demands of parenthood. But this experience has forced me to stop and really see my children for who they are, see how vulnerable and precious they are, see just how much love they need and have to offer in their innocence - and for that I have gratitude.
I've never been one to ask for help. It would be easy to blame it on this fierce sense of independence and pride, but I think the truth is I've never thought anyone would want to help me. I always felt like I was imposing on people, never trusting or understanding that they would help for no other reason than they love me. But I have learned that I can't walk this road alone. There were so many times when my hand was forced to ask for help. I literally couldn't be in two places at once or handle the burden on my own and I would begrudgingly ask for help. It was a process to learn that asking for help was not a sign of weakness, and even more of a process to learn to open myself up and receive these gifts of love from my family and friends. And while this journey can be scary and lonely at times, I've also never felt so loved and supported as I do today - and for that I have gratitude.
I wouldn't go so far as to say I am grateful for the bad days - but there is something about walking through those days and facing whatever life has to throw at me. There is something so satisfying about not running from or ignoring those bad days and coming out on the other side - even if I had to stumble my way through and pick myself up off the floor in the process. I've really learned how to make it through just one day at a time; to deal with - and appreciate - the here and now of life. And sometimes it's those bad days and rough times when I am most aware of being present in the moment and really living life instead of hiding from it - and for that I have gratitude.
I don't know if I had to go through all this to learn these lessons. Maybe in some parallel universe or alternate life there is, or was, another way... but does it really matter? The point is, this is my journey. These are the roads I have taken and the paths I have chosen. For all its twists and turns and detours and road blocks, my journey has led me here. And there is beauty and grace, healing and love in this place - and for that I have gratitude.