Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful


Sometimes you just have to give thanks.  I am not religious per se, but I am getting more and more into a spiritual place in order to deal with, and understand, this thing we call life.  I use to be angry - angry at life for putting me in a body I despised, angry at my mom for being so cold towards me, angry at my dad for not doing anything about my mom, angry at my finances and how hard I had to push to just make ends meet in college and graduate school while others around me had all the support they need.  Then, one day I got tired of being angry, being sad, being depressed, and constantly hiding that I was those things through fake smiles and overextending myself to self absorbed others.  I don't really know when it happened, but it happened slowly over time sometime after my father passed.  It is still happening, everyday as I learn how to turn my anger and disappointment into gratitude.  I am learning how to be thankful.

So what am I thankful for?  I am thankful I can walk, and now run.  My lower back injury left me bedridden 9 years ago in Ireland the third week I was there.  I couldn't stand or sit for seven full days.  Then  one day I was able to walk, although the compromise was a lack of feeling in my right leg.  Over the years doctors told me I wouldn't be able to run - the injury was permanent and I may never get feeling back.  But, now my base runs are 4 miles with longer runs steadily going up (I have a 9 miler this Saturday).

I am thankful that I don't take no for an answer.  Yes, the road I had to travel to get to where I am now was a long one, full of mental anguish and constant battles to be taken seriously as a researcher and anthropologist.  But it was that fight, that journey, that has allowed me success today.  Without the fights, tears, setbacks and re-workings I wouldn't be able to finish this degree.  I found out how much I wanted to get my doctorate with every grant rejection letter and snide comment from fellow graduate students and faculty.  Also, by not accepting no for an answer I am learning that my body can do things I only dreamed of a year ago.  For that I am thankful.

I am also thankful for my mother.  We have a rough relationship to say to least.  I did not have the rebellious teenage years one sees in movies or hears about on talk shows because, simply put,  I wasn't allowed.  I grew up fast as I had to learn to help manage a full house and go to school.  As the oldest it was my responsibility to help raise the 4 younger kids, clean the house everyday, and then obtain perfect grades in school. I was to be the first in my family to go to college and finish, period.  There was no room for discussion or back-talk.  When my father had a stroke when I was 16 and my mom an emergency hysterectomy and 2 knee replacements a few months later I had to run the house.  Sports became the one and only outlet I was allowed to indulge in.

College was my escape and I was able to start to figure out who I was outside of my family and my mother's gaze.  Yet, when my father died old habits came back and my mother went crazy (to put it nicely).  I was now the spawn of the devil, an insolent child that didn't help enough for, after all, that was my role as the oldest.  This time I had a voice and I could speak up, respectfully of course, and speak up I did.  We went weeks without talking.  All I wanted was a mother and I think my mother just wanted her oldest daughter.  When I moved to England something happened - my mom started to become a mom.  Since November we have been going well, with only a few ups and downs.  I have come to be thankful of what my mom went through supporting 5 kids and my dad and what she is doing now to make sure I am ok in a new country.  So I am thankful for her, for without that experience growing up I don't think I would have been mature enough to go to college, finish, and continue on.
Lastly, I am thankful to just be alive.  Running has brought that feeling back to me - something I let slip far to often in the past.  To walk outside, no matter the weather, look around, put on my headphones and feel my feet move from underneath me in a rhythmic manner.  Breathing in the cool air I can't help but smile and just be thankful to have seen another day.

So, what are you thankful for?

2 comments:

Adrianne said...

Thanks for this open-hearted and honest post. I'm proud to know you.
Me, I am thankful for, among other things, every new day which allows me to work to make up for things I've screwed up on in the past, or take the good things I've been attempting one step farther. I am incredibly thankful for the support I've gotten from family, friends and colleagues for the work I do. And also right now, I am thankful that it's sunny and 60 in March in Michigan!

Nicole said...

Hey Adrianne,
Thanks for the comment - it means alot!