I’ve spent time in reflection, easing my way into the reality that this year is almost gone. I’m not sure where the time went, but I do know it went quickly. I don’t set New Year’s resolutions, so there’s nothing I’m trying to hurry up and accomplish within the next month. Each day I try to do my best to be better than I was yesterday. Most days I fail miserably, but on the rare occasion that I pull it off, I am reminded to be grateful.
This morning, I had the opportunity to chat with a friend about our Thanksgiving traditions, what are plans are this year and what we will do with the time we have been given to enjoy our family and friends. Emotion flooded in as I pictured myself, a small kid, sitting at my Grandma’s house making turkey sandwiches and eating all sorts of left overs late into the evening of Thanksgiving day. Then I was reminded of the last time I talked with her… full sentences, walking, and showing her gratitude and love. Tears rolled as I felt pangs of regret for not staying longer, for not hugging tighter and for not loving harder. The next time I saw Grandma was two years later, in a nursing home. Walking with assistance, struggling to put words together and still showing that same love she showed us throughout her lifetime. Tears filled my eyes and my heart broke… I had missed so much.
Thankfully, I don’t have to miss as much these days. Today, when I look at gratitude, I almost always think of her and her grateful heart. This last year has been interesting. There have been ups and downs… moments I wasn’t sure I would make it through. But no matter what, I never had to pick up a drink, a drug or anything else that demanded every ounce of my life. I was able to be completely present for all of the good and all of the bad. And throughout all of this I have learned so much more…
I have learned what it means to be a sister, a daughter and a friend. I have learned that being an aunt to my beautiful nieces and nephews is one of the most treasured gifts I could have received. I have learned how to stand by my family in darkness and allow us all to lift each other into the light. I have learned to walk away from those who cause pain and despair. I have learned that in order to be a friend, I must first be a friend to myself. It’s entirely true when you hear, “You can love no one if you don’t love yourself”. I used to think that was complete nonsense, primarily because I never thought I would be able to love myself.
On this day, two and a half years into recovery, I can say with an honest heart, that I have love for myself and can find love for all other people. There has been so much transformation in the last 365 days that gratitude is too simple a term to associate with the magnificence of revolution. Never did I recognize my genuine hate and disdain for myself before this year. Thankfully, we have an amazing crew that collaborates with one another to build each other up after the reckless abandon of ourselves tear us apart.
As a part of the rebuilding process (which happens many times throughout the year), I have learned who to lean on, who to leave behind and how to pray for the right choice. We outgrow people. It doesn’t mean we stop loving them, it means we can’t love them and remain an active part of their lives. I have walked away from people this year that I thought would be there until our time was up… Others have walked away from me. In the end, gratitude can be found, because we can find purpose for another’s place in our journey.
The one that came as the biggest shock, was the realization that I almost always have one foot out the door. No matter what I’m doing, I never seem to want to be too committed… So, it goes back to fear, as it always does. If I commit, I’m stuck. Uh, no. If I commit, I dedicate my time to something or someone. It doesn’t mean I can’t walk away when the time comes. I thought I was done running, done being a part of constant fear. That’s how tricky fear can be… sneaks right in under your nose and you don’t even see it until you’re stuck in the minutia of chaos.
Let go of the chaos. Let go of the crisis. Let go of the pain… We can, if we try hard enough. When we do, when I do… life begins to feel peaceful. Sure, there will be moments of struggle, it wouldn’t be life without it… but we can be grateful for that too. All the lessons learned, all the memories conjured up show me that we live in a continuum of change. We may have tradition, we may eat turkey and pumpkin pie, but we need not be haunted by ghosts of who we were, but dreams of who we will become.
Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours.