We live in a society where it is only acceptable to show happiness, joy, thankfulness, and gratefulness. We are constantly showing our best pictures and happiest moments to each other. We are awarded positive comments and feedback when we are #blessed and #thankful.
We are uncomfortable with sorrow, pain, struggle, grief, hurt, loneliness, darkness, anger, and more. So we push it aside. We only focus on what is good. I tried that. Push aside what is hard and only see the blessings. I found out that it was only hurting me more.
I became resentful towards my grateful life. When I expressed my excruciating pain out loud, I was reminded that it could be worse. When I struggled to accept my new motherhood journey and sharing my children, I was reminded I need to be grateful that she loves my boys. When I was drowning in depression and darkness, I was reminded I have so much in my life to be thankful for.
I felt dismissed. I felt that what I was feeling in that moment wasn’t real. Wasn’t true. Wasn’t killing me inside. Now all I felt was guilt. Guilt for feeling hurt and pain rather than grateful. I felt bitterness rise up in my throat. Here I am bearing my soul and all I am told is to remember how blessed I am.
I can be grateful and feel hurt at the same time. I can have a blessed life and feel sad for what I have lost. I can show thankfulness and feel anger for what has been done to me. I NEED to feel all of these. It is vital. Why? Because I lose my joy in what I have. Allowing myself to acknowledge all my emotions, even the really hard sucky ones, I appreciate my life more.
Gratefulness doesn’t take away the pain and the hard. Nope. I still feel them all. And when I acknowledge and accept the difficult emotions, I enjoy the good I do have. My gratitude becomes real and truth rather than forced upon me. At times, I feel that gratitude is a requirement rather than a gift.
Thankfulness and gratitude isn’t automatic either. Just now two and a half years later, I can feel grateful for my divorce experience. For it allows me to have compassion and empathy for those who are struggling. I can sit with them in the pain. Months ago if I was asked if I was grateful for this grief I would have laughed in your face and said hell no. In the shame and darkness of depression, I carried the burden myself. Gratitude the last thing spewing from my lips. Today, I can say thank you Lord. My disease makes me stronger, braver, and bolder.
When I absorb the dark, I appreciate the light. My joy becomes genuine. My happiness overflows. My knees are bruised from falling upon them in thankful prayer to my Lord. God is merciful. I know He could take it all away in an instant. My place on this earth is temporary. My gifts are His grace and love for me. He has made me human and with this I am made to feel all emotions. Good and bad. Happy and painful. Love and sorrow. They go hand in hand. I can’t have one without the other. I cannot be truly blessed, thankful, or grateful without the pain, suffering, and hurt.
I am not saying don’t practice gratitude. I do this. Every day. I wake with a thankful prayer on my lips. I look around me and acknowledge the good. I work to show my loved ones I do not take them for granted. I do this. And much more. I know the power of thanksgiving and gratefulness has on a person’s heart and soul. But when it is forced. When it is fake. When it is a requirement to be seen in society. That is when gratefulness isn’t good. It becomes a burden. It becomes a chain around my neck that is choking me.
When I stopped running, when I quit dismissing my emotions, when I acknowledged my suffering, that is when I started to see. See the beauty that is my life. See the precious gifts given to me. See and feel gratitude, compassion, empathy, thankfulness, and joy. See the lovely in the dark.