Today, I Am Grateful For All My Suffering.
Today I feel grateful for that excruciating powerlessness I felt, over and over again, as a young child, because it taught me how to try and try and try.
How to think differently, how to give up, lose all hope, and then eventually pick myself up and try again. It taught me how to be dynamic and flexible. Only after I released a lot of stored wells of anger, emotional pain, and sadness did I realize how resilient I had become.
I feel inexplicably grateful for two decades of this chronic invisible illness. It has taught me to deeply appreciate my wellness.
This tiredness has taught me to appreciate my energy and my time, moment to moment, in much the same way that dark differentiates light. Knowing my weaknesses so intimately has shown me my strengths and how to appreciate them.
It has taught me to pour myself into the things that feed me, into creating and expressing and sharing… and into learning. A process which steps deeper and deeper into the unconscious, into deepening awareness.
I feel grateful for knowing incredible unutterable sadness, that has felt like an ocean of all the sadness in the world. That was so heavy for so many years and I spent a long time avoiding, and then delving into, and then avoiding again, in this process of growing awareness, of dissolving, of surrender, of letting go over and over again.
I am grateful because I can empathize with those who suffer, because I can feel compassion and tune into my deep intuition. I am grateful because my life has felt like walking in the dark, and now I can feel guided by this growing awareness.
I feel grateful for the depression I experienced for so long and that feeling of brokenness. I feel grateful that I have stopped trying to fix myself. I tried over and over again to fix, to heal, before realizing that healing is not an active process.
My conscious role was not to fix or heal but to remove those obstacles to the automatic healing process of living things: to clean the emotional wounds, to make sure all the pieces were there, to pull out and untangle the things that were twisted up, that do not belong, to clear out the muck and then to just allow healing to take place.
I am immensely grateful for not feeling broken anymore, for feeling whole, and for the psychological kintsukuroi.
Today, I feel grateful for writing; a skill that took me so long, just to grasp the basics and that now carries me through life. It is hard to believe that at eight years of age, I thought I would never learn to read and write in English but now I am a novelist, a blogger, an academic.
I am grateful to have known that incredible feeling of disempowerment of illiteracy, because it gives me greater compassion for those suffering from social inequality who have so few options, and gives me the will to do whatever I can to make things more fair.
I feel grateful for the overwhelming intensity of the experience of childbirth, that opened up chasms within me that I didn’t know existed, released unspeakable and unknowable blockages, and was the most incredible journey of my life so far; the most total surrender, which was followed by unending trials and spiritual lessons taught by a very small teacher.
I am grateful for this ever-trying, ever-changing, ever-growing journey of parenting, and the extremes of emotions it triggers. I am not always grateful, especially for sleep deprivation, but I have learnt so much by going through so many challenging situations, and for this I can be truly appreciative.
Today, I feel grateful for anxiety, and the acute awareness it has created in my life, from the meanderings of my bizarre childhood imagination to the level of social sensitivity that I can now learn from as an adult.
I am grateful for my Saturn Return and the great and overwhelmingly trying opportunity to face my deepest fears, and gradually, to discover the depths of my strength.
I am grateful for my self-awareness, and awareness in general.
It has taken a long time to get to this point of genuine gratitude. It is a milestone in a very long journey. I can honestly say that I feel grateful for two decades of chronic illness and depression. I didn’t feel grateful most of the time.
It was horrible, challenging and painful, but if it weren’t for all this suffering, I would not know myself so well. I would not know how to deal with emotions so well, nor know my own limits or all the strength that comes from having them pushed over and over.
I am grateful, for if nothing else, at least I can say I’ve lived. At least I can say I’ve tried. At least I can say I have experienced.
Now I can say that as human beings, when faced with personal, social and global challenges and crises that seem impossible, we must choose to be brave, we must not give up, we must have hope, because I have tried the alternative and it got me nowhere.
And so I tried everything else, and here I am: grateful for all the difficult things that have made me who I am.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Isa Ritchie is a novelist, blogger, academic and mother. She has been writing various kinds of things since she was a small child and is currently working on a PhD focused on local food and food sovereignty. So far, she has completed two novels and begun a third. She is passionate about social justice. She loves teacups, elderflowers, and understanding different perspectives. You can find her work at www.isaritchie.com, or connect on Facebook orTwitter..