“Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many –
not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
~ Charles Dickens
Two years ago I could not have envisioned what my life would look like today. I was singularly focused on keeping myself together to make it through the day. I concentrated on going to work, picking up my son from school, feeding him, and getting him to bed. There were times when I struggled to make it through the next hour or the next minute. One of the things that kept me from going completely insane, however, was starting a gratitude journal.
A couple days after my husband was arrested, and my world was falling apart, I went to Barnes & Noble and bought a blank journal. That night, December 31st 2010 to be exact, I listed 8 items for which I was grateful - my son, his health, my health, the roof over our heads, my job, his happiness, his cheerfulness, his imagination and creativity. Over the next few months sitting alone in my living room, I dutifully wrote the items, events, and people from the day for which I was grateful. Sometimes, I was grateful for a sunny day. Sometimes I was grateful for reading a good book. Sometimes I was grateful to be able to accomplish some small task alone like taking down the Christmas lights or fixing the lawn mower. Most times, I was just grateful for Evan.
Thus began my journey out of the chaos, grief, and loneliness into the life I live today.
While my life today is not picture perfect, it is a hell of a lot brighter than it was 28 months ago. I continue to be extremely grateful for my son’s health, my health and the roof over our heads. But today I am grateful for an entirely new set of blessings. And my list is long. :o)
One. After 21 months of threats, negotiations, and stalemates, I am grateful to be divorced from the man who abused me.
Two. I am grateful that my son and I are alive. As more distance separates me from that awful night, the more I realize how easily I could have been killed. Some women are not so lucky. Thus, I continue to promote domestic violence awareness through blogging and speaking about it whenever I can.
Three. I am grateful that I have full custody of my son. I must remember to never, ever, ever take that fact for granted.
Four. I am grateful to now live in a beautiful, cozy home near my son’s school with the freedom to organize and decorate as I wish.
Five. I am extremely grateful for a job which allows me to live simply but comfortably. I am blessed that my office is close to our house and my son’s school. The short commute has significantly reduced my stress overall and allows me to spend more quality time with my son.
Six. I am grateful for the beautiful, smart woman that is my therapist. The Universe placed the precise person I needed in my path to carry me out of the dark depths of trauma after my husband assaulted me. Today she continues to pull me back from the edge whenever I am tempted to look into that darkness again.
Seven. I am grateful for the many friends I have met on this journey. I am humbled by the love and support I receive from those friends, and now have many more “angel warriors” who encourage me through some of my day to day struggles. I finally realized that I do not have to walk this journey alone.
Eight. I am grateful that my life seems to have finally settled down, and my son and I are in a fairly predictable routine. I realize this serenity could blow to hell in a moment. But for now, we are through with lawyers, realtors, and courthouses.
Nine. I am grateful for the courage to give up drinking wine. Let me explain. These past two years my wine intake increased substantially. I was using wine to numb my feelings of betrayal, hurt, and shame. I finally realized that I could never fully heal from the abuse if I continued to use wine as a crutch. I had to give it up. I began to take the steps needed to eliminate all alcohol from my life. This lifestyle change has been a challenge in itself. I have had to relive many of my painful feelings and triggers. But this has enabled me to further grow emotionally and spiritually, and now I face my life on life’s terms without a magical elixir to numb my pain.
Ten. I am especially grateful to be on this journey. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to learn and heal from my past and to move forward resiliently with my eyes wide open. Because as Joan D. Chittister says in her book, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, “Once we have truly struggled with something that stretches the elastic of the spirit, we are worthy to walk with others in struggle, too. Then we’re ready to listen. Then we’re able to lead. When we know the meaning of what it is to struggle with something in life we become totally human.” I am fairly certain I am now 100% human!
I know that I still have much to learn and endure. My self-esteem continues to be fragile, and I still see my therapist once a month. Some days it can be difficult to get my butt out of bed. But each day I wake up is a gift, and I’m not going to waste it. I believe that as long as I am alive, I have something for which to be grateful. As long as I greet each day with gratitude, I will continue to heal, grow, and count my blessings. :o)