I tend to be fairly good at finding things to be grateful for every day, so in some ways for me this is a day like any other day, except I can be extra super grateful I have friends who can cook incredibly well and who invite me over to eat their food and then lounge in their hot tub. BLISS.
I'm also grateful that I'll be at a place where there's some possibility of enjoying the OTHER name of today's holiday, Spanksgiving, later on in the evening, because I'm learning I do love to receive as much as I like to give- kind of news to me, as someone who spent the last 10 years running away from anyone wielding a paddle saying "no no no no I hate pain uh uh no fucking way". Turns out that's only MOSTLY true. *coff*
But on a serious note.
It's been a hard year. And a good year.
On reflection, I've realized that this year, my cat, my bestest friend in the world, died, and 3 abusive relationships ended- 2 lovers, 1 friendship. As each one ended I felt angry, and hurt, and sad, and angry again. Some hurt more than others. But I'm realizing it's not the endings that hurt, but the aftermath. It's feeling trapped in the pattern of being good enough to be the girlfriend experience, or fun to date for a while, but not worth settling down with. That hurts to the core, but I don't have to frame it that way. If I look back and I'm honest, I realize I have more to be grateful for than I have to be sad about.
Last year around this time my ex met my parents for the first (and last) time. There was a sudden ice storm so we spent multiple days in darkness and in the cold. He and I had a fight the night after he flew in, actually, when I treated him to a concert- but he was jetlagged and it was late, and we started yelling, and he got in my face so I got very pissed off and he struck me in the arm in the rental car, and I told him to get out, and he did, he just walked out, and I drove away into the crisp Boston air, not giving a shit if he froze to death or if he phoned his mother and had to fly home early. I ended up relenting and searching for him for blocks until I figured out where he was and we went to the pub near the house and had makeup sex. Neither of us got off, but I think we both faked it. We didn't tell anyone. We both had reputations to uphold.
It's amazing when you look back. Hindsight, 20-20, etc, right. You never realize when you're in it just how bad it is, how bad you're become, how accustomed you've gotten to being anxious all the time.
With that in mind, I want to reflect on a brief list of what I'm grateful for:
-friends I can count on to cradle me, lecture me, and distract me as needed
-family, chosen and blood, and becoming closer to them, even through pain
-that those people forced me to stop, and wait, and think about whether I want to live or not, allowing me time to really think about getting better
-having a room of my own looking over the Bay
-living in an area where I can have easy access to fresh and varied foods
-looking at my fingers and noticing healthy cuticles, not bitten ones
-my heart not pounding every time the phone rings anymore
-writing jobs I can be proud of and published work I can hold in my hands
-medication that works
-having the financial ability to help others in need as well as care for myself
-that I have a voice that gets heard, meaning I can signal boost others effectively
-the distance needed to have clarity of mind
-the thick skin to call abuse what it is, even when silenced and shamed for it, both personally and for Consent Culture
-the desire for healing and evolution for us both through accepting our painful history rather than vengeance
-the realization I am a rising star and that I can't let anyone or anything hold me back, not even/especially the potential I see in someone else (which makes me sound horribly vain, heh)
-my libido returning!
-plans to go to Maui with friends to celebrate my divorce and my engagement ending
-healthy moving forward and moving on with accountability, honesty, and trust as my guides, and my heart quite literally on my sleeve.
I'm very privileged, in many ways. I am humbled by that often, and grateful for that every day. Especially when this holiday is steeped in blood for indigenous people, I feel weird about talking about how lucky I am... part of why I'm lucky is because I'm white and raised middle class. I think it's incredibly important to take a moment to treat this as a Day of Atonement and recognition that our forefathers were not heroes to people of colour. This is a day to recognize the United States's history of genocide, not just turkeys and Pilgrims.
But really, right now, the thing I'm really grateful for is that I didn't end up trapped in a marriage with a guy who couldn't communicate, who struck out when frustrated, who made me cry more often than made me laugh, who didn't respect my boundaries about nonmonogamy and then was bitchy about my lack of trust, who made me feel like I couldn't talk to my friends about what was really going on because I knew they'd tell me to leave him and I loved him. Or I thought I did. Maybe what I loved was the idea that I could get married and have a baby and some sense of normalcy. If that sense of normalcy comes with a relationship that created a cycle of abuse in which we both were miserable, then I'm grateful he let me go.
I just hope one day he admits his own history of violence before he's forced to confront it. And that I continue to recover, admit my faults, and breathe, and grow.