Hidden Strength in Giving Thanks

Hidden Strength in Giving Thanks

When I started thinking about what I was going to write for this piece, a number of ideas ran through my head. I thought,

“Well, I am incredibly thankful for my good health, a roof over my head, and food to eat…”

You know, all of the basic human needs essential for optimal well-being. But I remind myself of these things every day, and I realized I needed to write something that forced me out of my comfort zone. Then I thought,

“You know, I am so grateful that I am finally learning to say ‘No’.” 

But let’s face it, this is something I am still pretty shitty at, and I have a long way to go to figure it out. Turns out I’m not ready to write that one yet.

Next came the self-help cliché,

“I’m thankful for my fear because it tells me (more like screams at me like a headless banshee) how I need to grow.”   

And while I am incredibly grateful for this revelation, I sat with it for a bit and realized it wasn’t the right thing for me to write.

Finally my thoughts wandered to my journal, where every night I try to write three things I am grateful for. Going back through it, I realized there is one thing that continues to appear in my gratitude musings with clear consistency.

My mother.

My mother is a very private person. She is cautious and wary of others, and it is understandable. However, I am completely opposite—too understanding and trusting, and very proud of it.

So Mom, I’m sorry for dragging you out into the public light like this, but this message is important. It’s important because too many people are afraid to tell others how much they appreciate and love them because of that screaming banshee, Fear. Fear of rejection and loss, fear of appearing weak, and fear of feeling and the inevitable pain that comes with it.

It’s important because we are always told we should simply fear less, but rarely do we actually see how intensely messy that process is, because it turns out that banshee has a sister and her name is Shame.

It’s important because if only we opened up a little more often, chose to be a little more vulnerable and to accept the risks that come with this effort as a natural part of life—

not to avoid but embrace, we would realize the more we do it and learn about ourselves in the process, the easier it becomes. And the more potent our joy becomes.

It’s also important because, Mom, you are important to me and I want you to feel good knowing it. I want you to feel good knowing the reason I have food, good health, and a roof over my head is because of you. The reason I can be myself and fulfill my potential is because of you. The reason I flourish, is because of you.

I am trying desperately not to cry as I write this. I feel things too deeply. Sometimes it is a curse, but sometimes it is a blessing because it allows me to show the full extent of my love and appreciation, which you deserve to know.

You deserve to know that your sacrifices helped shape me into someone I am proud to be. You deserve to know I am alive today, not just because you brought me into the world, but because you have worked so hard to keep me here and present. Through abuse, through severe depression, through fear and deep-seeded self-hatred, you have always been the constant who has pushed me to look past the expectations imposed by others and never allowed me to give up.

I am so incredibly thankful to have a mother who offers to drop everything to come to Japan when the season turns and my depression ripens. I’m thankful for a mother that budgets my continuing education as a priority, even at 32 years old. I’m thankful for a mother who plans exactly what my homecoming meal is going to be months before I return home from the other side of the world. I’m thankful for a mother who doesn’t spoil me with material things or pretty words, but instead with opportunity and wisdom. 

Mom, I love you. I am grateful to have been blessed with such a strong, supportive, and selfless woman as a mother. Thank you.

P.S. I’m getting a half-sleeve tattoo. It’s going to cost about $2500. I’ve already started paying for it, no refunds. Please don’t freak out.


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