Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The obligatory "thankful" post

I'm not one of those people that goes through every single day in November and lists something that I'm thankful for, because honestly I'm afraid I would run out of things to talk about halfway through the month and end up desperately trying to come up with something to post for the last ten days before Thanksgiving, like, "Uh, um, okay.............oh yeah, I'm thankful for garter belts, yay!" Which I totally am grateful for, because I hate pantyhose, but that seems pretty lame to mention in a thanksgiving tribute, especially in light of the myriads of things that other people are talking about for days on end. It's not that I'm an inherently ungrateful person, it's just that I don't particularly want to shed light on a lot of the things I'm grateful for, because so many of them are private and my gratitude for them is deeply rooted and sometimes triggers tears. Tears make my head hurt, and that sucks. So I make sure the people that I'm thankful for know that, in abundance and throughout the year, and I go about my own way of feeling gratitude for inanimate things like Diet Coke and chocolate covered strawberries (the former I consume in abundance, and the latter I almost never have, because I'm afraid I'll get sick of them and that would be the worst thing ever).

However, since I have spent the last couple of months finding my way out of an abyss of darkness that I haven't experienced since my early twenties, I decided to write about the things that I'm grateful for. Not the people. OF COURSE I'm grateful for my family. OF COURSE I'm grateful for my support net of friends, both old and some very new. They know how much I love them, or at least I hope they do. If you're reading this, and you regularly talk to me, and you don't know whether or not I love you--guess what? I love you. I truly do. I don't waste my time with people I don't genuinely care for. Know that you are loved and appreciated and that just because I may not say the words, often or in some cases at all, you have a special place in my heart that has been reserved just for you.

Instead of writing about those people that I love and who keep me going when things are hard, I decided to write about the things in my life that do the same. There are many things I am grateful for that most wouldn't consider all that important. For example:

I am so very thankful for my ability to get lost in other worlds, whether it be though books, movies, television, theater, RPGs, or video games. I'm easily distracted, yes, but I love getting completely absorbed in nonexistent realities. I love falling in love with characters that aren't real. I firmly believe that if heaven exists, my heaven will look like the world of Spira in Final Fantasy X. I'm not even a little joking, go ahead and make fun of me. No shame over here.

I'm thankful for music. I am so very thankful for music. I'm thankful that I truly appreciate it, in all forms, and that it serves as such a balm to my soul. Not only to my soul, but to my kids as well. It is a powerful thing, to see what music does for my five year old son, who can be inconsolably hysterical one moment, and then the instant I begin to sing "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins to him, he goes completely still, calms, and relaxes against me. A couple of days ago, my eleven month old daughter, who is teething, was in my arms, crying from pain and discomfort, and I started to sing "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd. She lifted her head from my shoulder and stared at me, wide-eyed, and after a moment, quietly put her head back on my shoulders and fell asleep in my arms. I'm thankful that I have worked so hard at piano and voice, so that I can find not only comfort, but real satisfaction from my own musical gifts. Pride in one's self, in small doses, is important. I'm grateful for Mozart, who makes me laugh when I play his piano sonatas. I'm grateful for the ocean of sound I am given over to when I play Debussy. I'm grateful for the richness and warmth of Puccini. So yes, I am immensely grateful for music.

I'm grateful for Memphis. I love this city, and all of its gifts. I love its diversity and character, and its history. I don't know where life is going to lead me, but I know that Memphis is and always will be my home. I'm thankful for the gift that is kickboxing, even if I haven't had the chance or energy to go in some time. I plan on jumping back in next week when things slow down a bit, and I think that's important because heaven knows, I need some stress release. It's a marvelous anger management tool, and I'm thankful for the therapist who introduced me to it last summer.

Mostly, I'm thankful for the quiet moments that allow me to escape the stress of life and just BE. Sometimes that's driving around in my car (despite the fact that I generally hate driving). Sometimes it's sitting at a restaurant bar by myself, drinking a beer and journaling my thoughts so that I don't go crazy. Sometimes it's going to a movie alone. These days, I find that it's often spending time with one person, just one, and talking. Maybe a friend, maybe a family member, maybe a coworker, and talking to them. Not about anything life altering or important, but getting to know someone new, getting to know someone else's story. I'm grateful that I am finally able to let my guard down for a moment, even when I don't want to, and being reminded that it might not be so bad to be vulnerable. There is trepidation, but also awe, in watching the walls that you've built up so carefully around yourself be smashed to rubble, by someone who doesn't even realize they've done anything, and discovering you're grateful to them for it. There is something freeing in being stripped down to your barest self, and knowing that there are people in the world who want you to be that person, and no one else. No false masks or body armor. I'm grateful for those moments, and for those people.

Yes, I said I wasn't going to write about people, but how could I possibly avoid it? I'm writing about gratitude. It would be one hell of a lonely existence without people in it, and all those things that I'm grateful for would mean little to nothing if I had no one to share them with. 

After two months of drowning in darkness, and finally finding a treatment that helps and has started to pull me out, I now know that my ability to recognize the important things, the ones that make me grateful to be alive, is what has kept me here. I'm grateful for that, for all of my escapes, and for all of you. I hope, if you're reading this and can't see through the darkness yet, that you can continue to be strong, even if that means you can't be strong right at this moment. Give yourself a break to be tired, and sad, and sick. It's okay. I believe you'll get back up. I hope that you can find a way in the darkness to remember that you are needed. I hope that you can find a small corner of your heart to find peace within yourself. It is possible to come out of the dark and into the world again. I'm living proof, even though I'm still shaky and pretty fragile from the reentry. I hope you all have a warm and gratitude filled holiday this week. I am going to be grateful that I'm still here to do the same.

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