Gratitude Misunderstood

Gratitude has taken on a certain connotation. Many people think of gratitude as a sense of happiness and thankfulness for life’s pleasures both big and small. Usually it’s associated with something “positive.”But what if we find that we are grateful for things that maybe we don’t think we should be? What if we are grateful that we don’t think about unhealthy relationships with people from our past as much as we used to? What if we are thankful that a person is no longer a part of our lives and that we no longer miss them?

Possibly you find that you are grateful that you got fired from that job for whatever reason. Or maybe you are thankful that your divorce is finalized or that your roommate moved out and you can finally have some space.

I have had extremely complicated and often toxic relationships with certain members of my family. Some of them are now deceased and while I feel sad that those relationships will never be healed or rectified, and that those people died without making an effort to fix what was broken by their doing, I am grateful that I no longer have to to deal with those situations.

One day I was in the store buying cards for people because of an upcoming holiday. Usually, I catch myself smiling when picking out funny cards or cards that express beautiful emotions of love and affection. But other times, searching for the “right card” for someone in your family that you have a complicated relationship with can be very taxing. I suddenly realized that I no longer had to worry about endlessly searching for cards for people in my family that were really unkind and hurtful to me. I would be overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, stress, anger and flashbacks of painful memories whenever I had to pick out a card for these people. I would be reminded of how selfish they were and how I would never have a normal relationship with them. But that is over now and I am grateful.

Sometimes guilt can accompany feelings of gratitude for situations like these. We think to ourselves that we shouldn’t feel that way or that we are heartless people for thinking such things. No, we are often times trying to process trauma, pain and navigate a world where people that were supposed to love us did damage to us instead.

Truthfully, my deepest wish would have been to have everything be healed and made new — a fresh start where amends were made and healing could have taken place. But that didn’t happen. What happened is what happened and I am grateful that part of it is now over.

Gratitude can take on many forms. I always believed that you cannot force true gratitude. It’s a gift. Be grateful for the gift of gratitude even if you find it in some complicated and unexpected places.

Wishing you healing and peace… 

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