This has been one of those weeks when I struggle to see my own reality. Whatever I touch seems to shift onto a precarious ledge, quivering in balance whether to fall into crashing defeat or settle down into place. My blog seems to be a black hole of meaningless words, floating into the ether where they disappear without interacting with another human being. My heart hums with loneliness, in a world that (at least today) focuses on love. The lens of my internal eye is muddied with doubt and fear, rather than open to possibilities, and I call myself names: “you are such an idiot,” “dumb ass”, “failure”, “friendless loser.”
In an attempt to combat this negativity, I am going to turn it on its head and choose to be thankful for each and every negative thought that I have tortured myself with this week. I am going to acknowledge what I have achieved and push away the voices telling me it isn’t good enough. I am going to embrace myself with self-compassion.
“You are not a real writer!” I finished another manuscript for a novel last Sunday, but rather than celebrate I started worrying . . . is it worth trying to publish? who can I ask to be beta readers? why do I feel like I am bothering people when I ask them to read my work? what if I am a one hit wonder (and P.O.W.ER never really becomes a hit)? Meanwhile, I looked at the dirth of interaction on my blog, and felt like it was useless. Nobody would ever really have any interest in what I have to say. ENOUGH!!! I am thankful that I can put stories on a page, whether or not anyone reads them. I did have a couple of people offer to read the manuscript, and I am grateful to them. I really do need to find some people who are willing to read with precise, editorial eyes, but I am thankful for any feedback that comes my way.
“You are the world worst mother and wife.” Last week I wrote about the chaos of my daughter’s birthday party. It turned out to be a great success, but . . . my daughter is at an age when you have to remind her to be thankful, to say thank you. She didn’t seem to recognize how much work went into that little celebration.
Sarah’s actual birthday is tomorrow. My husband’s birthday was Thursday. Today is Valentine’s Day. Many of the Mom’s I know would shine at this time . . . throwing fabulous parties, giving the perfect gift, celebrating their loved ones. I’ve done nothing. No gift for Nathan. No valentine’s for either of them. No present for Sarah. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? But, I have this philosophy about gifts–I give things when I see something that I know someone absolutely has to have, or something that makes me think of that person. I would rather give a meaningful gift at a surprise time, then a required gift on an expected time. So how do I turn my feelings of guilt into a thankful? By reminding myself that my husband loves me despite my quirks. By telling myself that my daughter knows that she has interesting parents who try to provide her with creative opportunities and an interesting life. By reminding myself that what I offer my family may not resemble “the ideal” of the world, but is an offering of love on my own terms. By being truly grateful for Nathan (my best friend and a truly kind, caring person) and Sarah (who is growing up to be an amazing, talented, caring person).
“You can’t do anything right, and you are a failure.” This week I was plagued by students who want to get something for nothing. Misplaced computer power cord (my own–for the second time). Battles with a student over what constitutes plagiarism. Learning that a job that I applied for didn’t actually exist. Watching a theatrical production that was truly painful; and having to write up an evaluation of it even though I knew it would hurt. Doubting myself as a director, when I am trying to pick a show to direct in the fall. Realizing how dysfunctional and messed up the program is where I am currently teaching–and realizing that as a lowly adjunct I am powerless to fix it. Seeing job postings that, in a different time of my life, I may have been qualified for–but realizing that my path to “success” went topsy-turvy long ago. These are the weeks where I blame myself: for making choices that might have hurt my career; for not following traditional paths; for not publishing enough; for not being good enough. ENOUGH!!! I am truly thankful for the life I’ve had. I am now in a position to pick and choose how I want to participate in my life. Well, not financially, I still have to make some choices based purely on the need to help support my family. But my husband supports my goal to live life on my own terms, and for that I am truly grateful. I love the variety of options in my world, and I love that my career is so bizarre. Yesterday, the chair of my department asked us all for a list of accomplishments over the past three years (because the program is under review now). I sat down and made a list and realized I have done a lot of really interesting things . . . I just never realize that until I see them written down. I have no reason to complain when I live such an interesting life.
I have no idea if this is actually ten things of thankful, but I am going to end there with a reminder to myself that even negative thoughts can be a blessing. Negativity makes you reflect on life, and gives you a chance to see what you have as well as discover areas of change. The ability to change is something to be truly thankful for–and my life is an example of how change can sometimes be difficult but is always amazing. For this, I am thankful.
What are you thankful for?
Join the Ten Things of Thankful community and work with us to nurture an attitude of gratitude. We use the whole weekend to focus on the Good Things in life. Make a list of Ten of those wonderful Things, then share the Wonderfulness with others.
Andra BetScrivener is thankful for her friends who combine unique abilities to make the world a better place in P.O.W.ER.
For each book sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes that support women and children around the world.