I’ll just be up front and say I’m greedy as all get. The holiday of Thanksgiving just doesn’t mean that much to me. Having just one day set aside for gratitude and family isn’t enough – for me, it’s an everyday event. It has to be. I’m just so in awe of the blessings I have to take anything for granted. Nothing is mundane, glossed over. With the life I’ve had, everything I’ve survived, everything I’ve seen others go through… I just have to be so thankful for everything, no matter how little, how silly.
Take toilet paper, for instance. Do you have any idea how blissful it is to have tp at the ready whenever you need it? I didn’t, until I went to BCT. The Army issued ONE ROLL per recruit PER MONTH. The guys were fine with that, more or less. Us women? Things would get pretty damn stressful and nerve-wracking halfway through the month. We’d steal napkins from the D-FAC when possible and pray that if there was a Porta John at some distant range that it would be stocked, but that was rarer than a happy drill sergeant. It’s been 14 years since I returned from BCT, but I had vowed to never again take tp for granted, and I fucking kept that promise. There’s no freedom like knowing how easy it is to walk to the corner store and drop a few bucks for a jumbo mega pack of toilet paper when I’m down to my last roll. Toilet paper, coffee, and the chance to sleep in every so often: little things that make all the difference, trivialities that should never be taken for granted.
It goes without saying that I’m most grateful for my family, my friends and community, and my gods. I think that’s something I’ve hammered home pretty effectively throughout this blog. I’ve had some very rough years, but I’ve never been without love and shoulders to cry on, I’ve never been hopeless because my friends and family and gods have never let me be without hope. Even when I was a full time funeral director working around the clock, when I was secluded in the deepest parts of depression and crippled by anxiety, even when I’ve struggled with medical issues and surgeries that took me out of commission, my friends and community were waiting to welcome me back with open arms. My mom and stepdad have been at my side through all of it, have been in the ER with me through many, many long, hard nights, and have always been ready to step in and help me put my life back together when the chaos overwhelmed.
My mom always joked that people got married so they’d have someone to take them to the hospital when necessary, so me being the terminally single smart-ass that I am responded by buying a house next door to a hospital. I thought I was so clever. In case of emergency, I just have to walk a block! And yet, when I was so sick I couldn’t even drag myself next door, my parents responded to my desperate call at 2am, drove 18 miles to get to me, and my stepdad carried me down the stairs and to the ER just a few hundred feet from my front door. I could never, ever express my absolute love and adoration for my parents, because no word nor any action is enough to show them how very, very grateful I am to have them, how deeply I love and admire them.
I have friends both local and out of state who have offered to come stay with me to help me, whether I need the help due to physical illness or mental illness. PTSD is a bitch, and even with excellent care and therapy, it can get the best of me. I’ve gone through some dangerously dark patches, so dire that I’ve never been fully honest about just how bad they were because it would terrify my loved ones. I’ve tried to go at it alone. And I’ve learned I can’t do it alone. I’ve learned to let my friends in, let them help me, to respond when they check in on me instead of ignore them and leave them wondering what’s going on. I was terrible about communication during the darkest times, so bad that Shadow Spouse thought he’d said/done something to make me shun him. Though that was a few years ago, I still feel bad about that, and have made it more of a point to be more responsive and pay attention to when my friends are reaching out. I am grateful to them for never giving up on me, for forgiving me for shutting them out while I tried to deal with things on my own. I am so thankful for them to celebrate my return to the community, to be genuinely glad at my mere presence at gatherings. They give me purpose, they remind me how glad I am to be alive, they fill my life with love. I am grateful, forever and always, for my friends and my community.
And my gods. They have been the underlying forces that have shaped my life, influenced every single decision I’ve made, from joining the Army to becoming a funeral director to reuniting with my friends. They have been the energies keeping me alive. Freyja was the one to welcome me back all those many years ago, Odhinn shaped me and gave me the wisdom I needed to come to grips with my past and my hardships, and Loki, dearest Loki, he gives me joy. He is the one who is helping me to learn how to really be happy, he’s the one who has shown me just how much I really have to be grateful for. He shows me all of the wonderful potential that chaos can bring, and he is showing me how to be a positive energy in day-to-day life. He’s helping me learn to escape the pit and fly high above where the darkness can’t pull me back down. And with him soaring at my side, I know that when the darkness comes creeping closer, he’ll be there to guide me to a tailwind that will whisk me away from the danger. I’ll always be susceptible, and I’ll have my low points, but I won’t be alone. Now that I realize he’s always been there, it will be easier to notice him and accept his help. The absolute same can be said of my friends. I shut them out once upon a time, but they never left me. Just because I couldn’t see them in the dark doesn’t mean they weren’t there.
As a child, my father made it clear that I shouldn’t exist, and as I grew older, I came to understand just how much he resented my existence. I’ve had many, many close calls, some of my own doing, some of which were out of my control. I’ve been in the depths of the abyss, and I’ve survived. I do exist, I still exist, and I’m finally starting to do more than exist. I’m finally starting to live. So one day to give thanks couldn’t possibly be enough. Every day, I give thanks. Every day I try to show my gratitude to the people who are glad I exist, and even glader that I’m alive.
My family, my friends, my community, and my gods: thank you. I love you more than you’ll ever know.