The truth that had I spent most my life running from is: Life is not meant to have a solid foundation.
Never will we wake from sleep and know what to expect from the day to come. We may think we know what our experience will be that day; it may occur, but, it may not.
For me learning to accept this has given me much peace, especially during towards the end of 2019 when I was delivered the news of my Cancer diagnosis.
Since 2017, gratitude has become a pivotal part of my day. A gratitude mindset has not always been my default. For years I was torn, to put it simply: subconsciously, I knew my worth and capabilities. Consciously, my foundations were compromised with layers of self loathing, disbelief in self and others, resentment, blame, and anger. I was living in a space of fear. I was not enough.
Everything in my world was a result based on ‘right and wrong’, ‘good or bad’, ‘safe or dangerous’ perspective. I was constantly at war between my conscious mind and subconscious mind. The casualties were: authenticity, integrity and Love.
I am grateful to have met people who knew me at a time I did not yet know myself. Some seen glimpses of me, those people seen me for who I was inside – free of fear, hurt and anger.
It was in those moments, the moments where I allowed myself to be vulnerable and let my walls down, that I had the experiences that changed my world in ways that leave me feeling more fulfilled.
The concept of gratitude was first suggested to me by a counsellor in 2016. The concept made sense: ‘be grateful for what you have and you’ll be happy’.
Why wouldn’t you? Right?
If it were that easy, wouldn’t everybody in the world who truly wishes for happiness be practicing gratitude?
The stars of my gratitude list were my husband, daughter and Sister and some friends. Not long into this trial of gratitude, I reached a road block.
Like a slap in the face on a cold Winters night, I realised, I had so much to be thankful for and I was still miserable, self loathing, anxious, and resentful. In my mind, the world had now confirmed it, I was the issue.
This was too much for me, I was not willing to face myself at this time. So I continued life. I found employment at an incredible organisation that promotes empowerment and health advocacy to those within its community.
I continued to parent my beautiful and kindhearted daughter, who has given me more chances than I can ask for. To me, she is the definition of Unconditional Love.
I remained committed to my husband, the man who had seen me for all I was and Loved me all the same. How could I have these blessings and feel so deeply resentful and unhappy?
Any moment I could find to ‘get away’ I would. I would drive to the beach that I felt connected to at the time, my thinking spot and when I got there I’d cry. If I couldn’t get out the house I was restricted, and that made me more anxious and resentful.
I can remember long calls to my Sister, telling her of my heartache and inner turmoil.
I truely believed in my heart, the lives of those around me would improve tremendously should I not be a part of them. Unsure what that meant.
That deep and dark place, challenged me, it took me to my core and I’ll never forget the fear and the way that fear enabled me. I am grateful for that dark night of the soul for it taught me more about who I am than amount of ‘good’ fortune ever could.
As expected, life continued on. Family dynamics changed tremendously. The change our family went through was difficult and painful. However, it was faced with unconditional Love and is a credit to my incredible Husband and Daughter. This is a story best expanded another time, so we will delve no further at this moment.
Now I found myself being in a space where I could learn, for what I perceived to be the first time ever, how to be me.
I was learning to embrace my new life for all it was; joyful, lonely, exciting, wonderous, boring, fearful and loving.
It was here that I began to feel gratitude on a deeper level. It was more than a tick the box, good willing process or something you just do.
I began gratitude journalling once more, this time, focusing on the things in my world that made me feel gratitude; not things that I felt obligated to be thankful for.
With time, the journal entries became more complex and an innate ability to see the world in a neutral state had begun.
We must be kind to our past, for it is what leads us to the moment we are in; in this moment we have choice and as a result we have opportunity.
So, when I was sitting across the desk from the General Surgeon who had just told me that I had Breast Cancer and I would be saying goodbye to my Breasts as I know them. I knew, this experience would create opportunities for immense learnings; not only for myself, but others.
I believe that Gratitude is one of the most valuable practices we can master in this lifetime. Personally, my perceptions have forever changed as a result of Gratitude.
Be kind to your past self. It has prepared you for the present moments you find yourself. You have the ability to turn your moments of hardship into ones of opportunity – whatever that looks like.