I recently experienced a MAJOR life change. It was something that occurred unexpectedly and caused acute stress in me. I had a very rough 24-hours as I digested what had happened. From the moment I realized what was happening (it took a good long moment, mind you) something interesting occurred. Gratitude began to percolate in me (along with a whole lot of other feelings— like sadness, fear, and shame).
I think this happened because I knew that as one door slammed shut in my face that I would
Way back in early therapy, I remember telling my therapist that I knew there was something after the abyss and that I’d get there eventually, but I wanted to be there now. I wanted to fast forward. I wanted to time-travel.
Of course, I knew that wasn’t how healing worked. I knew that wasn’t how strength-building worked. I knew it would take time and it would take effort. Ultimately, it took years and literally my blood, sweat, and tears.
And so as I was faced with this most recent painful event I was grateful because I finally felt the abyss was behind me.
A Gratitude List On A Horrible Day
That night I wrote up a gratitude list that became focused on survival and resiliency. I’m grateful for…
- my emotional breakdown in 2010 (somehow I chose life instead of death)
- hitting a bottom and then getting sober in 2013 (best thing ever)
- the work that I’ve done with my therapist (I love her so much)
- the strategies I’ve learned through a tonne of reading (so many teachers in the library)
- the meaningful relationships I have with friends and family (thank-you thank-you thank-you)
- my father’s five year battle with cancer and then his death when I was 24 and he was 54
- the stigma I faced when I was outed as a sex worker and what it did to me and my family
- the stalking and invasion of privacy I’ve had to deal with as a sex worker
- my autoimmune disease diagnosis and the weird body stuff I continue to live with because of it
- the numerous sexual assaults I’ve survived
- the despair I often feel because once you’ve done sex work few people give you the opportunity to do anything else
I wouldn’t wish my traumas on anyone. I wish they hadn’t happened to me. I wish I hadn’t spent decades shoving them down. Hiding them away. Brushing them off. Thinking others have it worse, so my stuff was inconsequential. I wish I had access to therapy and support earlier.
But I did learn to acknowledge what happened and to treat myself with compassion and gentleness. I sit with it now. Ask it what it needs. Judgment free. Hold it. I’m tender. And I know that this isn’t a once and done kind of thing. It’s a lather, rinse, repeat until my last breath kind of thing.
Good stuff, I see you. Bad stuff, I see you too.
Neither define me, but they do inform who I am. And I’m resilient even when I’m hurt and suffering. Both are my truth.
Thank-you to all of it. You helped me process this most recent experience without numbing out, getting blackout drunk, or hurting my body.