Reflections Of Gratitude On 9.11
The other day, I cleaned the boys’ bathroom. It was disgusting. If you have sons, you know what I am talking about. Running to the toilet, barely making it types of messes. Dirt and grime around the sink, and the remnants of soccer practice and recess all over the tub. As I scrubbed, trying not to throw up in my mouth, I thought about women I know; mothers who may never get to complain and feel grossed out by such things. Mothers whose children are sick and cannot play now. Mothers whose children have died from incurable diseases and that won’t have the chance to clean up their messes. Mothers whose children were taken away because of addiction to drugs or alcohol, abuse, or neglect that no longer get to see them. Mothers who died on this day 12 years ago, who will never get a chance to see their children grow up. Women who want desperately to be called “Mother”, but cannot. I wonder how they feel when I complain about these trivial events of daily life? Do they resent my whining? Wouldn’t they give ANYTHING to experience that frustration? I suspect that their answers would be YES.
When I thought about this, I fell to my knees and cried. I prayed that their pain and frustration and sadness would be heard and that they would find things- even in the smallest of ways- to once again find joy and happiness and healing. I asked myself how I could be of service to them– how can I be their friend?
For a very long time, I believed that my problems were insignificant and tried to put on a brave face, make it look like these problems weren’t there and used things, in private, to escape. I used food, alcohol, love, even TV… anything to find a way to numb myself from the things that gave me pain and frustration and sadness. I hid these things so well that no one knew, but the pain never went away. When I did confide in others, I felt like a burden and that some people thought was just sitting in my sadness too long and not doing anything about it. I felt judged by others, sometimes because of things said, but often because of what I thought someone might say. For several years, I would hope that today would be different and I would promise not to escape, but by the end of the day I was drunk. During that time, I knew I had a problem, but lacked a willingness to change. No one knew, so why change anything? But when I stopped reaching out and withdrew further, and my escapes got longer and days passed, I knew I needed help. I prayed and acknowledged that I could no longer escape the revolving door of my feelings and I wanted it to be different.
That was exactly one year ago.
This week I celebrate that decision. I take steps to learn about myself and explore different ways to live. I have learned that when I hurt, for whatever reason, big or small, I don’t need to hide it from the world. I can share my feelings with a friend and pray that it will pass and when I take the time to find gratitude, even when I am cleaning the disgusting bathroom, I feel at peace.
But still, I struggle with my relationships with those people who have lost much more than me. I imagine that there are times when my gratitude is of little consolation. I try to say the right thing but often, I worry that I will just make them feel worse. Sometimes, I end up saying nothing at all because I am so afraid of hurting them and I don’t know how to share my life with them without making it seem like I am dismissing theirs. I stay away. What if instead, I consider that when I pull away, I take away their chance to heal and to feel gratitude? Hasn’t helping others and finding gratitude helped me? If I am to have genuine relationships with others, I cannot measure my experience against those of my fellows and recognize that no matter what the reason, we all get to feel however we feel. It is not a competition for whose pain is deeper; it is all pain. And when I get stuck in the little things, maybe they can offer me grace and patience and as part of their healing, they can have a chance to find gratitude by being of service to me.
This beautiful post was submitted to us by Lauri G.
A Sober Mommies Contributor is most often a non-professional – in and out of recovery – with reality-based experience to share about motherhood & active addiction, the multiple pathways to recovery, or a family member’s perspective.