What can I say I am thankful for this year? It’s so easy to feel sorry for myself, to wallow in the misery generated by my broken heart and my broken family. I have absolutely no financial security, and I soon won’t even have health insurance. I don’t sleep well these days. Sometimes, I don’t sleep at all because I stay awake feeling petrified about my future. At times, I don’t think I can endure the grief and sadness of losing my marriage. One day last week, when I didn’t think I could survive the pain, I told myself that I was going to take the day one hour at a time. I set the timer on my iPhone for one hour, and when I survived that hour, I set my iPhone timer for another hour. I kept doing this until the day ended.
Yet I can be thankful, even in the face of the most painful experience I have ever faced. To begin with, I’m so thankful for my sons. I would endure this agony and loss a million times over if I knew that, at the end of the process, I would have my children. My children are a mix of me and my husband, and they wouldn’t be who they are if I hadn’t made children with the man who is their father.
I’m thankful for the friends and family who have been there for me throughout this experience. From the friends who text me or send me Facebook messages to see if I’m okay to the family members who check in on me, I’ve learned how fortunate I am to be loved. I am not a person who’s good at asking for help and support, but I’m learning to ask, and I’m learning about the kindness and generosity of the people who care about me.
I’m thankful for the memory of my mother, who also divorced at the same age that I am now. I remember how strong she was for me and how hard she worked to both support me through the changes and to redefine herself. When I think of her and the example that she set for me, I know in my heart that life can be salvaged and that something beautiful can always rise from the ashes. When I feel like I can’t go on, I think of her strength, and I know I can have the same strength for my kids.
I’m thankful for my husband and for the years that we were married, as strange as that sounds. My husband is a good man and, although I grieve the loss of our marriage, he is being generous about sharing time with the kids, generous with his money and generous about listening to me express my pain and grief. My husband gave me so many years of kindness, caring and encouragement, and his friendship has made me who I am today. I didn’t have a lot of men in my life who were good to me, but my husband did so much to restore my faith in the male gender. His support helped me to form my identity, and I will always be grateful that he’s been a part of my life for the past 20 years. When all of this shakes out, I know the friendship that we’ve shared for so many years will endure. Because of him, I don’t look into the future and think, “All men suck.” I believe that I will someday find the kind of complete love that I deserve. And because of our years of marriage, I know that I have a great deal of love to give. At some point in the future, I will be okay.
Finally, I’m thankful for the open road that is ahead of me. I didn’t ask for my new circumstances, and I don’t know what life has in store for me. I do know that the support of the people who love me, I will find the strength to embrace what lies ahead. I know that one day I will wake up and find that I feel less hurt and more hope. I will have a better life.
For all of these things, even though my days are dark and uncertain, I am thankful. I choose gratitude over bitterness. I choose optimism instead of resignation. I choose to live rather than to fade away. And I choose to keep believing in a better future.