You use gratitude like cocaine, she said.
Confusion followed the stun of my kind friend’s smack of truth, and shame infused my face as I tried to process her words.
When asked how I was doing, I’d developed a habit of reciting my blessings. With my husband on a path to a predicted death, gratitude became my instant inoculation against feelings. I could escape the pain of seeing dreams of growing old together vanishing and the impending morphine pump making its appearance.
Looking at the truth hurt. Counting my blessings helped.
In the years since, everything from life’s ordinary inevitable disappointments to the deaths of my dearest have broken my heart too many times to count. This autumn, the reality of the world’s catastrophes and atrocities are enough to crush the soul of any human lucky enough to be breathing. I still need my gratitude fix.
Back in January, I chose truth as my word of the year. Less lying to myself. More truthful about who I am and who I am not. More being truthful with others.
My efforts yielded some sights that were hard to see. The times my positivity left others feeling unheard. My propensity to wish for things without asking for them. How gratitude can blind me to reality.
One truth thankfully reappeared: More than one thing can be true. I needed my daily dose of feeling grateful, but it needn’t numb me from moments of petty irritation, gut wrenching grief, or sorrow for the millions around the globe suffering each hour.
This Thanksgiving I’ll feast on my gratitude. The main course: A safe and warm home free of the fear of breakups or bombs. The sides: Friends and family who shower me with love and generosity. And for dessert: Being newly married to a magnificent man.
Even with my heart so full, I hope to leave room for more.
Do you struggle with facing the truth?
How do you hold conflicting emotions?
How will you experience your gratitude this season?