Today I was asked to write an article on my favourite topic gratitude.
I wasn’t always a grateful person. I used to be an ungrateful, self-righteous, self absorbed, needy, insecure young woman. I used to ask “What do I have to be grateful for?” when the bills were piling up my house was being repossessed, I had 2 children and one on the way, we didn’t have any food my husband was drinking our shopping money. I really didn’t see I had anything to be grateful for. That’s where my head got stuck. I couldn’t see any further through this darkness, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.
The rollercoaster was going too fast and I couldn’t get a grip on my reality I wished the rollercoaster would just slow down just for a second so I could get my bearings; no sooner has it slowed and I had a momentary grasp on the craziness of my situation before it would be full steam ahead again, and I would be thrown around, once again in the dizziness of insanity. I stayed in this place for a long time, until I finally got so sick of myself that I was prepared to do something about it – I became sick and tired of being sick and tired.
This is my story and I went to a place called Al-Anon (For the friends & families of alcoholics) it took me a while before I was willing to try, I was still busy blaming everybody else for my misfortune rather than doing something about it. I still thought I knew it all. I sat my bum on a chair regularly. Eventually I finally heard someone suggest I write a gratitude list every morning. Physically write down five things I was grateful for and if I couldn’t think of anything it was suggested fake it until you make it.
Through gritted teeth I wrote..
I am grateful for my house (I wasn’t, I hated my house – it was a rental on the ‘wrong’ side of the highway and had drug dealers living next door) I faked my gratitude.
I can’t remember when the shift happened but I do know that I was so sad to leave that house a few years later as it was so convenient to the school, Had a great fence around the garden so kids, dog and rabbit were safe, it had the best tree house, a fantastic family room, new kitchen, the kids all had their own bedrooms.. It was my own home, a happy home, I didn’t have to share my bed, (no the marriage didn’t make it – but I did!), I was fit, healthy, happy, Etc etc etc.
That was 19 years ago. 19 years of trials and tribulations and stuff just life stuff but nothing like the years prior to my finding my gratitude list. Sometimes I still have to fake it until I make it but only rarely. I still compile a gratitude list every day and I hope I will do this until the end of my days.
Here is what I found on my journey:
- Alcohol alcoholism is a b**** but had it not been for alcoholism I would never have found a way of life so vibrant, peaceful, fun, boring, loving… etc etc etc – I learned to love myself and others because of pain. I experienced a growth spurt and came out magnificent. I am grateful I married an alcoholic.
- I’m also grateful I didn’t stay in a toxic relationship any longer. A child psych once said to me that the worst damage I’d done to my kids was stay unhappy for too long. She said kids just want happy, consistant parents – that doesn’t happen in an unhappy relationship.
- I will be ok. No matter how painful, how crazy, how wretched – if I keep putting one foot in front of the other the situation will eventually change
- Change is inevitable, pain is inevitable, resistance and suffering are optional.
- There really is no pleasing everybody all of the time and whilst I’m busy trying, I’m missing out on doing and looking after me & mine.
- It is my responsibility to look after myself. I owe this to myself to my family and especially my children because if I do not look after myself I have no way of caring for them or anybody else. Put your own oxygen mask on first.
- I am grateful for multiple sclerosis and I know that may sound completely insane however because of multiple sclerosis I have learnt the ability to know my body in ways I could never have dreams of prior to diagnosis. Multiple sclerosis has taught me to nurture my body to eat appropriately to exercise regularly. It has taught me to think outside the square and not trust everybody or every piece of information that comes my way. It has taught me to listen and learn and choose what I feel is correct for me.
- Because of multiple sclerosis how I have always worked for myself, this disease makes me a very unreliable employee and having three young children at the time of diagnosis and being a single parent, I asked myself “what can I do with what I’ve got?” and my first business was born. It survived until the children reached high school and then I sold it, not for a huge amount of money but it was helpful and I was eternally grateful for my little business.
- MS also taught me that life is short. It taught me that quality of life is a choice. You were only a burden if you consider yourself to be one.
- My children are my greatest teachers
- Life begins when you get one.
- Be careful what you ask for and be prepared to receive it.
- Steve Jobbs was right – you can only connect the dots backwards – so follow your path
Today I live everyday as if I mean it. Every moment is relevant. It is easy to feel grateful for the good stuff, the promotion, the lotto win, the birthday presents – what about life’s lessons? What about the silver lining? What about the painful growth spurts? The more painful the growth spurt, the deeper the lesson.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story of gratitude.
Director / Principle Sexological Body-Worker & Somatic SexEducator
Tracy has over 15 years experience in spiritual healing, body awareness, behavioural cognitive therapy (primarily in the area of addiction), co-dependency behaviour and sexual dysfunction. She has studied Bsc. Mind & Body medicine, Tantra, Reiki, Shiatsu massage and is Certified in Sexological bodywork and Somatic sex education.
Tracy is passionate about assisting people with intimacy and sexuality issues. She has a caring and compassionate disposition, is open and honest and creates an environment that nurtures with no judgement.
Tracy also studied Certificate IV in training and assessment which allows her to share her knowledge with others and holds regular workshops on a range of topics. Please see our Workshops for more information.
Tracy is a fully qualified and Certified Sexological Bodyworker and Massage Therapist.