Today I'm Grateful

Monday night at my book study, one of my friends shared a story about one of her friends. This guy's mother was diagnosed with a particular cancer, and she soon died from it. After that, his wife was diagnosed with the exact same cancer! She, however, is a survivor. Right after that, his daughter was diagnosed with cancer, a different kind. Three major life-changing, somewhat tragic events. Eventually, while his daughter was being treated he decided to write a gratitude list, but not a list of things he was grateful for in spite of what happened. Rather the list was about what he was grateful for as a direct result of what happened.

What a remarkable way to look for the miracles in one's life.

I did just that today. I have written down all the things I can think of that I'm grateful for in my life that are a direct result of what happened the past several months—things that I could not have learned, done, received or heard—without this event happening in my life. Here goes.

Things that I'm grateful for as a direct result of my separation (in no particular order):
  1. I'm finding myself again
  2. I like myself again
  3. I'm thin again
  4. I pay attention to my looks again
  5. I can wear a lot of cute clothes now
  6. I'm not dressing like a mom anymore
  7. I bought myself a new drill and several other power / handy 'woman' tools
  8. I've done a lot of things around the house that my husband would have done in the past
  9. I appreciate all that Matt did around our home. I used to take that for granted
  10. I have friends that I can lean on for handyman help if I can't do a particular task
  11. I am less stressed out
  12. I can handle single parenting
  13. I trust my husband even more regarding taking care of our son
  14. My husband and I communicate / argue a bit better now
  15. I'm much more respectful to him these days
  16. I have made a couple new really, really good friends: Audrey for one, Andy for another and have gotten closer to a few of my other friends
  17. Being married doesn't define me anymore
  18. I see how amazing my friends have been, especially my long time girlfriends like Debbie, Pamela and Anne
  19. My sister and I are closer
  20. My dad has been a big source of love and comfort and support for me
  21. I've come to really know and respect Dotti, my dad's sweetheart. She's really a smart gal
  22. I've learned how to put my problems in their true perspective
  23. I'm much more vulnerable
  24. I'm much more humble
  25. I've allowed myself to cry on people's shoulders (I would never have been vulnerable enough to do this before)
  26. I understand first hand now about depression
  27. I am not judgmental anymore about medication
  28. I have some really cute new jeans!
  29. I can wear jeg's (these are mine)
  30. I'm less of a spend thrift than before
  31. I value my marriage more than ever
  32. I value marriage vows more than ever
  33. I see the positive values of belonging to a church
  34. I'm making my house a home
  35. I can actually get my son ready for "school" (daycare) and get him there w/o stressing out and feeling sorry for myself!
  36. I am much, much more peaceful than I've ever been
  37. I am not fighting life anymore; I am accepting things whether I like them or not
  38. I trust God more than ever
  39. I work out now
  40. I eat much better now than before
  41. I am able to set limits
  42. I feel a lot stronger than I have in a long long time
  43. I know what I want
  44. I feel confident
  45. I am now aware of some of my defects; especially ones that hindered growth and love in my marriage
  46. I am taking actions to change the parts about myself that hinder my relationship with God and others
  47. I'm "growing up" and feeling more mature
  48. I am not angry with my husband for much
  49. I see the gift in forgiveness; I can truly being forgiving now and let go of the hurt
  50. I know when to hire help for things I cannot get done, and I don't feel bad for that
  51. I take out the trash, recyclables, and clean the litter box daily or twice daily
  52. I respect the value of a dollar more today than ever
  53. I appreciate all the hard work Matt did to bring in income to our home. I used to take that for granted and expect more
  54. I am able to be more intimate with my husband
  55. I learned some great communication tools from Michele Weiner Davis
  56. My counselor / coach Joanne Sellman and the great things she's taught me
  57. I found some of the "old me" again.... 
  58. I feel more independent and self-supporting than ever
  59. I appreciate my life, my home, my job, my friends more than ever
  60. I appreciate my past with Matt more than ever before
  61. I see Matt as one of God's kids and not a meanie out to make my life miserable
  62. I see Matt as someone who's hurting, who is a mother's son, and not someone out to make my life difficult
  63. I know what I can bring to the table now
  64. I value myself more than ever
  65. Matt appreciates me more than before
  66. Matt does not blame me anymore; realizes that his unhappiness is on him and not me (at least that's what he said two or three weeks ago) :)
  67. Oliver can be proud of how I handled a difficult situation
  68. I don't "need" Matt anymore
  69. I have some experience, strength and hope to share with women who are going thru something similar to this
  70. my daily readers: they mean so much more to me now than ever
  71. Jesus Calling .... I would not have been given this valuable book had I not been going thru this
  72. The connection I found with the women at the retreat I went to who had gone thru similar situations
  73. I feel attractive
  74. I realize the value of being physically intimate with one's spouse
  75. My home is more organized; there are fewer and fewer piles
  76. The basement and garage are slowly getting cleaned out
  77. There are less and less clothes sitting around; they've been donated
  78. I found a cheaper cat food and cat litter to use that are just as good as the expensive stuff (now that I have to pay for it all myself!) :P
  79. I've been able to mow the lawn and rake the leaves. (Next stop: shoveling the snow!)  
  80. Those incredible and intense ever-lasting hugs I get from Oliver when he bullets toward me as his daddy drops him off
  81. Those incredible tender moments he and I have shared when I am crying, and he notices: You crying momma? He then would put his head into my lap and say, I miss daddy too.
  82. Those moments when I get to console him while he's crying... usually about 30 minutes or an hour after his daddy drops him off. I gather him up into my arms and ask, You miss daddy Oliver? He nods, sniffling. I know, I miss him too. He loves you Oliver. Daddy loves you. And he cries in my arms while I get to hold him and rock him and kiss him gently, breathing life back into him until he springs up and says, "Play with me Momma!" with a big smile on his face. :)

And.... I'm grateful to Matt for helping me become a better person for this! Someday I will make some man a very good wife. And I know already I'm a better mother too. So thanks Matt!

matt cleaning up!

There's probably more. I could add to the list as the days go by, and in fact, I just might. Remember, these are things I'm GRATEFUL for.... I'm not listing my accomplishments as I have done in the past. I'm really truly grateful for these things. To repeat, this is a list of things that I would not have discovered or experienced had Matt not left me.

So, anyone out there going thru a tough or difficult time? This is a great exercise. I've never done it before and it was really liberating and helpful. I knew there were things I had learned that I could not have learned any other way, but I guess I never listed them before.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to do the same. If there is not a tragedy or some deep sadness you are experiencing your life, then maybe just jot down a few things you're grateful for in your life. You are reading this aren't you? So there's one: You can read! :) You are breathing at this moment! :) You're alive!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone. This year will be very different for me, but I know I will certainly do my best to make the most of my day.

See you soon!

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    1. Andrea-- I just wanted to thank you for visiting my blog and posting such thoughtful comments. Sadly, in addition to losing my sweet daughter and my mother 8 years ago, I too, endured the end of a marriage. I was married to my ex-husband for 6 years, with the marriage unraveling for the final three-- but in the middle there, my mother was diagnosed with and then died of cancer. Those types of things tend to force intimacy on people that might not have been there otherwise, which is what happened in our case, and we stayed together two years longer than we should have. That was the first period in my life where I cried almost every day-- I had hoped it would be the last, but I was so wrong. I've never written about this on my blog because my ex-husband and I are still friends and he reads there. Even though I've now endured what is, to me, the worst heartbreak imaginable, I'm still grateful for the experience I had with my first husband, because without it, I would never have known what I was really looking for in a life partner and I would never have been able to appreciate my sweet husband the way I can now. And I am indeed a much better person and wife for what I went through when my first marriage ended.

      As for your suggestion for a gratitude list, well, that is pretty much what "One Good Thing" is all about-- finding the good things that come out of the bad. I have to say that although I can recognize the good things that may have happened since Hudson died, things that would never have happened if she hadn't, I'm not at a point yet where I am really grateful for those things, because I would trade every single one of them back in a heartbeat to get my daughter back. But I have had a plan for several days now to do a "30 Days of Thanks" between tomorrow and Christmas Day, just to ponder on everyday things I am grateful for, because I have found that gratitude has incredibly healing powers.

      I hope that your future holds all the wonders mine brought after the end of my first marriage. For me, it was well worth the awful pain.


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