Forever Thankful

Today was a typical Thanksgiving in my family. My stepmom and my dad buy all the food, do all the meal prep, and cook everything. I stay on stand-by to help where I can, chopping up vegetables for the veggie tray, setting the table, and getting last minute things done before visitors arrive. In between, I try to distract my 4 year old with toys and cartoons and fend off the attitude of the 10 year old.

The parents like to do the cooking, and so they do. I could do it. I have done it in the past. But for now, I will just relish the fact that they are here and healthy and doing what they love to do, even if it wears them out. This is how they show their love. I just clean as many dishes as I can at the end of the day.

Last weekend, a close family friend passed away. She was in her mid-50s, had cancer, and is one of the most memorable people I’ve encountered in my life. She was very real, and very giving. I know my parents are hurting. She is the 4th person close to this family to have passed away in the past year since I’ve been living here. I feel like it’s been an ongoing grief train around here. It’s all so sad, yet it makes you stop and think, and appreciate life much more. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

And with that, I look at my life and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’m proud that I’ve advanced my career so much this year, and I’m doing well with raising my kids, and I’m healthy. Tonight, I was looking at some past photos I had posted online from about 6 years ago. Originally, I just wanted to see how much my little girl has grown and wanted to soak in the memories of when she was little, but a flood of anxiety washed over me with each photo I encountered with my ex-husband in them. We “looked” so happy, and he “looked” sincere, and I was there and feel like it was an out of body experience that I was ever in that space at that time trusting that man. Knowing what I know now and the timeline of his infidelity, I became disgusted by each smiling photo of us. Of course I didn’t know then. But I did. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right, and even when I spoke up, I backed down in doubt of myself if the conflict I faced from him was too great. He didn’t beat me, he didn’t even directly verbally abuse me, he just manipulated each opportunity he had to ensure I doubted myself in his favor. And it worked.

I am thankful today that I have faced my self-doubt and anxiety over the years, and I’ve stopped giving my power away. With all the death that has happened this year, the best death of all was that of my self-doubt. Death makes you appreciate life; however, in life many fear death. I am forever thankful for this life and intend to live it using the gifts and talents that I know I have. The woman that passed away last week, she used to enter a room like a bright ray of sunshine. She owned who she was and she positively influenced others around her. I can still feel her energy and hear her voice – she was so sincere.

I want to raise my kids to know this lesson I’ve learned as a basic life truth. Self-doubt is destructive to the life we want. It is a silent killer of the sweetness of life.

I’ve slowly become my own ray of sunshine. It has taken weeks, months, years, but I’m living in my own best interest these days and it feels good. I’m forever thankful that I’m in a better place this November than last year. I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

Stifle Me Not

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