Testing and Gratitude

Thanksgiving. Leaving aside all the political questions around the holiday, it’s nice to have a day set aside for us to honor that which makes us thankful. This year kind of surprised me.

Today I am grateful that I grew up dirt poor. Food was often scarce, and I lived without transportation, electricity, and even running water for months at a time. But it taught me the difference between “want” and “need”, how to creatively use the things in my environment instead of going to the store every 5 minutes, and that a comfortable home has nothing to do with the stuff you put in it.

Today I am grateful for my mother. She felt so powerless in her own life that she drank herself to death – and I didn’t speak to her for three years before she died. But she taught me that the road to happiness begins with taking responsibility for my own life, that all addictions are dangerous, and that a person is only as powerful as they believe themselves to be.

Today I am grateful for my first “Mistress”, who shattered my spirit worse than anything before or since. I lived for her for about three years, with her for about two. She was my sun and moon, and when she threw me aside for reasons I didn’t understand my entire world went dark. But she taught me that oaths go two ways, that loyalty is a precious gift, and that shame lies not in crumbling but in refusing to try again.

Today I am grateful for my late husband. Getting married at all was a horrible decision on my part, getting up the courage to leave was difficult, and having him unexpectedly pass before any resolution was reached made everything so much worse. But he taught me that what I require in relationships is not standard, that being true to myself extends even into the bedroom, and that saying “no” doesn’t make me a bad person.

Today I am grateful that being “out and proud” about everything extends even to my family. Being open about everything, even as I’m still figuring it out, has been traumatic for all involved. But it’s taught me that “family” is less about blood than it is about love and care and concern, that my chosen family is amazing for knowing me and loving me anyway, and that my honor and self-respect are more important than fitting someone else’s ideals.

Today I am so, so grateful to have been tested. Whether I passed or failed the test doesn’t even matter. Emerging from both still able to live and love and hope is all the victory anyone needs.

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