“I have a lot to be thankful for.”
I have heard this statement spoken wistfully by more than one person in the last couple of weeks. It wasn’t until I heard the second person say it more than once in a conversation that I realized I was actually hearing guilt.
The juxtaposition was uncanny and unmistakable.
Both of these women I know well and they’re both going through their own hardships. And while they are both quite grateful and appreciative, the truth of it is that life is difficult right now.
What they are not saying, what they are holding back is: I hate this! I don’t want to be living this. I don’t want to be enduring this. I want out!
And because they have gifts running alongside their challenges in life the honesty of how they feel sounds wrong so guilty gratitude is their default.
Guilt-laden gratitude? I feel confident that’s not what gratitude journals and practices are intending to cultivate. But I see how they got here. We have this idea that gratitude and an “attitude” can’t live in the same space. They can.
We have the word bittersweet in our vocabulary for a reason. Life isn’t linear and it sure doesn’t always meet at clean congruencies.
Love and loss at times arrive together. Pain and relief can be constant companions. Light and dark are frequently co-pilots. So why not hell and gratitude?
Last night, I looked at my friend and said I know that you are grateful for what you have but it’s OK to say, “This sucks!” It’s OK to say, “I am so tired of this!” At first she looked a little shocked and then what I saw was relief.
And after that the words she spoke relayed genuine gratitude, thankfully.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G