Okay, after a few dreary blogs I figured it was time to get back on to my favorite subject, choosing happiness. One of the themes you see repeated over and over when people talk about choosing to be happy is gratitude. Finding the things in your life you are grateful for daily, yes, every day. All of them. Sometimes that's a little harder to do than others. But it really does help you keep your head in the happiness game.
Now, I'm not super formal about it, I don't keep a gratitude journal by my bed to write down three things I'm grateful for today or a gratitude jar to drop notes in and read when I'm not feeling it (both really good ideas, by the way, just not my style). I am an on the fly person. I see something and send a little Thanks out to the Universe. If you are a religious person a little Thank You prayer would be the same thing. Just taking the time to pause and appreciate what you are feeling or seeing or experiencing. I know, I know if you aren't in the habit it sounds corny and forced. And honestly when you first start doing it, it can be a little forced. You are training your brain to see the world differently.
Some days are easy, today for instance.
I'm grateful for the nice night's sleep I got after three nights in a row with thunder it was great to have a quiet night.
I'm grateful that I live in a state where someone else pumps my gas so I didn't have to get out of the car in the pouring rain and take care of it.
I'm grateful that George holds still and relaxed when I trim his nails.
I'm grateful that C calls home on Fridays and even more grateful that we can talk for an hour and enjoy the conversation.
I'm grateful that I was able to see a friend who has struggled with addiction get a dream job because he fought for his sobriety and is winning that battle.
And that was all before noon. Like I said today was easy.
Yesterday? Not so much. Let's see after the third night in a row being woken up by thunder (see today's top gratitude item) I had reached the absolute end of my rope. That point where no matter what happens it just seems like too much to handle. Then the top popped off the coffee cup and I dumped a hot latte on my hand and arm and car seat and floor. It took three times for the girl in the window to understand that I didn't need a napkin or even two napkins but a STACK of napkins. And then there was holding it together while it all happened only to burst in to tears when I was telling Brent about it. I hate crying about things like that. It makes me feel silly. But I was exhausted and my hand hurt and I was exhausted and....did I mention exhausted? I can't really tell you what I did for the most part yesterday as it was spent in a funk. I knew I wasn't fit for human company so I kept to myself mostly.
Then when I was driving to pick up Brent and the clouds opened up and the rain dumped down I looked over to the car next to me at the light. His window was down. As he threw a trash bag over his shoulder I realized that his window was down because it won't roll up. I've had that car. The one where the windows won't always roll up or down when you need them to. The one that dies on the on ramp to the highway or the left turn lane of the busiest road in town. I didn't ever worry about my car in high school being stolen because not only would no one want poor Vinnie, if you didn't know how to work the manual choke you would never have been able to start him. I've been there. And I'm not any more. As I sat in my dry car and the guy with the garbage bag gave me the "what are you going to do?" shrug and smile I smiled back and thought, "Thank you." And then just because it was a good reminder I tossed out a thank you for the fact that Brent had let me cry without trying to "fix me" and let me ignore the fact that I was crying until I could get it back under control. Some days are harder but there is always something to be grateful for.
So as I was cleaning house this morning and thinking about this blog a memory popped in to my head. It's an old one and for awhile I wondered why I was thinking about it. Then I realized that sometimes you need a little gratitude for your past as well.
When Brent and I were first married he was going to school and I was working. Now school in the Navy is an all day affair and then there are watches and normal Navy type things as well added in there. Long hours. High grades expected. Stressful times. And we were discovering what it was going to be like being married. Which is a whole other ball of wax. And (as I've mentioned before) I was a piece of work. One of the things that we differ on is that he is a social introvert and I am not. Social introvert seems like an oxymoron doesn't it? But it's not, not really. He doesn't like large gatherings of strangers but going out with friends? He's cool with it. And we did it a lot. See his day was filled with classes and studying and other solitary type events. Mine was retail sales, talking to strangers and co-workers and smiling and being friendly to everyone. So for me what I really wanted to do on the weekend was nothing. And what he wanted to do was hang out with our friends and blow off steam. And since our friends wanted to hang out as well that's pretty much what we did.
Now, that sounds like Brent was forcing me to go out when I didn't want to and that's not right. We went out because that's what you did. We had friends who were social creatures and planned something every weekend so we did it. I hadn't even fully realized just yet that I needed the down time and the time away from people to feel my best. That came later. But what would happen is every once in awhile I would dig my heels in and just not want to go out. No reason, I wasn't sick, I wasn't pissed, I just wanted to stay home. One of these nights happened and Brent asked if I wanted him to stay as well. Now I did, but I didn't want to tell him to stay home I wanted him to want to stay home without me telling him so instead I told him to go, it was fine.
Look, I was 18, I hadn't yet figured out that Brent wasn't psychic and if I wanted something from him I was going to have to actually use my words to get my point across... I'm not proud of it and I've said over and over that he deserves a fucking medal for what I put him through those first few years...anyway...
So he went. Even though he already knew by that point that fine really didn't mean fine and that there was probably going to be an argument about going when he came back. A few hours later he came home and told me I needed to come with him back to our friend's place. I told him I didn't have any urge to go, hadn't we already covered this? And he said that one of our friends had had a lot to drink and he was concerned about her but didn't know what to do. So he came to get me. Fine...I'll go with you. I was pissed at this point. Not only did I not want to go in the first place now I was going and stone cold sober I was going to have to deal with a houseful of drunks.
We got there and...well....It was bad. Two of our friends who were dating had both had too much to drink and after Brent had left they had gone to her room to spend some quality time together. When we got there she was on the floor of the bedroom on her back with vomit all over her face. While they had been fooling around she had passed out as I turned her on her side she started to vomit more. I'm a sympathy puker normally and I cannot believe I didn't add my own to mix as the story unfolded around me. See, she wasn't actually vomiting more at that point, the original vomit wasn't hers, it was his. I completely lost my shit. I yelled at all of them. How could they be so stupid as to let this happen? Why had they had so much to drink? Who the hell leaves someone on their BACK with puke in their face? What the fuck was wrong with them? I got her cleaned up and woken up enough to vomit up the rest of her stomach. We probably all should have gone to the emergency room at that point but being underage and in the military (which he was) that's not a good idea.
Brent and I stayed for a few more hours getting everything cleaned up and people sobered up enough that I wasn't worried about people dying in their sleep and then we went home. Where I tried to get a few hours of sleep before opening shift the next day.
So why did this pop in to my head while I was thinking of gratitude? Because I have some delayed gratitude to share for this whole thing.
I'm grateful that Brent chose not to drink that night so he could drive and because he was sober he could tell something wasn't right.
I'm grateful that even though he knew I would be pissed as all get out he thought to come get me.
I'm grateful that I hadn't gone to the party that night. See it was my turn to drink (Brent and I have always taken turns so one of us could drive) and if I hadn't been sober I might not have been able to react like I did.
I'm grateful that nobody died. This is an obvious one, but looking back on that night for years I was always a little in shock at how badly it could have gone.
And I'm grateful that I had the good graces to tell Brent thank you at the time. I believe it came out, "Thank you for not being a piece of shit and vomiting on me ever." But I think he understood what I meant.
So my point is that gratitude is there. Even in the worst of situations there is something be grateful for. Sometimes it's as simple as Thank you that I can roll of up my window. And sometimes it's as big as Thank you that nobody died.
And it's never too late to say it. Thank you.