Thursday, March 11, 2010
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.
So, what are you thankful for?