Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Gratitude, one of the steps out of hell

I spent 3 years in bed due to not understanding the symptoms of PTSD and doing all the wrong things to cope with it.  I slept on the average of 5 nights out of 7 and then only 3 or 4 hours of the nights I did sleep.  I worked hard to stay awake.  Severe sleep deprivation prevented night terrors but wrecked havoc on my body.  When I prayed, I begged to die.  The Lord told me no.  Fine, how do I get out of this hell?  Over the previous 15 years I had seen several doctors and taken every test they could think of.  Everything according to those tests were normal.  No answers from the 'experts'.  I started studying on my own.  

One of the books I came across was Life's Uncertain, Eat Dessert First.   I learned two things from this book.  In the midst of frustration and hard stuff, take time to have fun.  The other I learned the power of gratitude.  That is right, the POWER of gratitude.  I believe that changing my attitude to one of gratitude helped me start to get out of the mess I was in.  I couldn't control my nightmares, I didn't have means to change my circumstances, however, I have 100% control over my attitude.  I new it was important to be thankful but I didn't grasp the power of feeling grateful.  Gratitude can turn a gray sullen cloud cover sky into a master piece painted just for me.  Challenges became blessings.  Difficulties created diamonds.  I started looking at my world differently.  Same world....new perspective.  Many of my photographs are about hidden treasures in the desert.  Taking time to see the bits of color hidden among the thistles.  When I am feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts, I remind myself that I am in control of my attitude.  How can I reframe the picture of my life. 

 Bloom where you are planted.

Same area as above, I changed my perspective.


Tundra Woman said...

Isn't that the truth!

I've experienced that in my own life as well. I have never struggled over any decision in my life the way I anguished over my decision to "formally" terminate the relationship the relationship with my biological "mother." That journey really forced me to my knees-because it really wasn't about her anymore so much as it was about me, who I really was warts and all. Having to admit to myself I did not love her (ouch!) and later, that I did not like her and later yet, if I had a choice she wouldn't be in my life at all-yet more damning conformation something was seriously *wrong with me.* Everyone loves their mother, right? And life is very much about circumstances and choices. One day the thought occurred to me, "If my presence isn't helping (and it wasn't, for either of us) my absence won't hurt." That was a mind boggling hit of reality and humility.
Just one simple change in perspective. That simple recognition at a very deep level of Acceptance. Everything changed.

When my DH died leaving me a young widow I felt compelled to put on something of an act so friends and colleagues, who had formerly referred to me as TW now gathered in furtive little knots anxiously discussing "the widow" would knock it off. Even simply mentioning his name in a neutral context resulted in silence and discomfort. Somehow, his death resulted in an even further loss of my Identity to others. So I added to my numbness and concurrent inability to cry or grieve even privately. I retreated into getting even busier than previously. I came "home" just to shower, change, roam the house through the remaining night and go back to work very early in the morning. He died in October, just as it was getting so dark so early.

A few springs later I was driving "home" from work as the days were getting longer and I was lost in the "Why?" And the anger, sadness, rumination, unfairness and just exhausted. For no particular reason I saw the sun was setting in technicolor, everything was greening up, the birds were singing and it occurred to me: Would there EVER have been a good time for him to die? That changed my perspective entirely. I was fortunate I had been able to care for him, to speak with him, to afford him what my stepmother called, "a beautiful death." The last words he spoke to me before he slipped into a coma were, "TW, you are the love of my life."

Sometimes, a change in perspective rocks your world with humility as well as gratitude. Maybe that's what the gift of compassionate grace is all about.

Ruth said...

Thank you TW. I appreciate you sharing your perspective of how gratitude makes a difference. I hadn't thought about how humility comes into the experience. You are awesome.