Every November I write what I am thankful for. Sometimes I do it every day and even put it on social media each day. Sometimes I do it at the end of the month, as a sort of a reflection. Usually I compile the list and post it on my blog. But this year is a little different. I wanted to do it, planned to, but honestly it’s been a rough month. It doesn’t mean I don’t see the good or joy in things or people, but I’ve been busy trying to keep from drowning.
There was the election and its aftermath. Trump is still a trigger and I’m trying to learn new skills to cope with my PTSD that kind of snuck up on and then kicked my ass for the first time in nearly eight years. There is family (both pre-Trump and post-Trump) and there is always drama and I get that’s just how family is, and I’m not used to having one, but honestly a lot of the time I just want to be done with it. Not the family itself, but the drama. But since it isn’t drama I started or feel I can solve on my own, I just have to try to not let it get to me. There is money, work and insurance. I feel like until we are independently wealthy (cue laughter – hysterical, violent laughter) this will always be a thing. Insurance isn’t usually a thing, but my insurance accidentally dropped me, and while it’s their mistake and there is no argument it shouldn’t have happened, it’s been difficult to get back on track (fingers crossed as of next week I’ll be insured, and they’ll actually backdate as promised). I had to cancel a procedure I need done and some other things this month because of it so I’m not feeling great because even though my medical issues don’t usually result in crisis, if I don’t keep up with them, I feel like shit. They’re all high maintenance and they all disagree with each other, so it’s fun. Then there is the holidays… Thanksgiving is a trigger and so is the Christmas season so if my PTSD is normally at a 4, during the holidays it’s at an 8.5, at least. But lately, it’s been bouncing between 7 and 10, so I’m just trying to mentally prepare. There is the constant nagging doubt in my abilities, credibility, talent and vision as a writer. I could go on, but I’m already rambling. Basically, this year has tried to compete with the infamously horrible 2014 for worst year in a long time. Which is kind of funny because it’s also the year I’ve been published several times in several outlets, which was a big goal for me. Oh well…
So this year, the thankful list didn’t seem so easy, as much as it seemed tedious and repetitive. When I thought about what I’m thankful for, there were all the usual things but I just didn’t feel like writing about chocolate or books or things – the other constants on my “thankful list”. Instead, I kept going back to people. If I think about the things I am thankful for, the most important and what takes up the largest piece of my list is people. Friends, family, teachers, my husband – it’s the who I’m thankful for, rather than the what that really resonates and what I would be lost without.
That’s when I realized I shouldn’t make a list of the things I am thankful for, but the people I am thankful for. When I started thinking of my list I realized it felt forced. I’m thankful for people and that’s what I’m focusing on, but why list them out? I mean I wouldn’t publish it on my blog because of people’s privacy. And it seemed silly just writing it for the sake of writing it. And then it occurred to me that instead of a list, I should write a note to the people that would have been on that list. Tell them I’m happy that they’re in my life, what they mean to me and why I am grateful for them.
So that’s what I’m doing. I haven’t finished all the notes yet because between everything I already listed in the whole (this year has been a lot rant) and NaNoWriMo and doctors, and Thanksgiving I am seriously behind in all things. But I am going to finish soon, and send them to people who live far away and give them to those who live close.
I’m really happy with this, because I think taking the time to be grateful is important. It makes you slow down and appreciate what you have, it doesn’t give you joy, but it helps identify it, or even find it if you didn’t know that it was there. But even better than doing this with things of hobbies or places, is people. I keep going back to the cliché: People make the world go round. And they do, at least my world. I always try to never take anyone for granted and live like it could be my last day, but even with these things in mind I feel I don’t tell the people I love and appreciate just how much I love and appreciate them, randomly. I’m always quick to do it if they’re hurting, or if they have supported me when I’m hurting, but just the random note, “I was thinking of you and it made me smile” kind of thing not so much.
And this year I will do that. I will let the people who make my world matter and help me make sense of it know, “You are important and beautiful and appreciated and loved. Thank you for being you – never stop!” And that feels good, because this year I’m not just identifying joy and taking stock, but I’m letting the sources that keep my soul nourished know: Thank you. I am so, so grateful.
Who knows, maybe this will be my new “Thankful” tradition. I hope everyone has a good rest of the year. Remember to let the people you love know it for no reason at all. You never want something to go unsaid. I highly recommend making a list of things or people that bring you joy. The harder it is to come up with the list because of hard times, the more meaningful and worth it that list is. It can lift you up. It won’t make you fly, but it will at least keep your head above water.