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Where do I begin with this one…

Recently, I was sitting, listening to the story of a dysfunctional relationship between a male friend and his his step-mother, I could relate. A few days later, I was listening to, and understanding another crappy story of emotional and physical abuse that a girlfriend of mine has had with her biological mother and her ex-husband.

(As many people people know I have a less than loving relationship with my own cold-fish, mentally ill mother. I moved to Italy to get away from her and a lunatic man. It took moving to Italy to get the pathological liar man, who lived in a PTSD video game, out of my head and my heart… I have recently moved back to the States to help the cold fish and have been told more time than not, what a loser I am and how I have nothing to offer, just since returning!)

After each night, as I returned home, not feeling too bad about my own problems, I started thinking, “How did these two adults go from being abused and neglected children, to becoming the awesome adults they are today?”

I could only come up with one answer. A positive attitude. There is a strength that dwells somewhere inside of us, that says, “You know what, YOU, Parent, Spouse, _________  fill-in-the-blank here, are a fucked up mess, and I refuse to be like you. I will be better than you and I will win!”

I call this Negative Gratitude.

The negativity comes from someone telling you over and over again that you will never be good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, caring, bold, strong, clean, interesting, focused, fast enough, and you will never measure up to whatever Negative Nancy/Norman is jamming, over and over again, into your little, tiny, 6, 8, 15, 35 year-old sensitive brain. The brain that is going to try and tell your heart to,”Just give up already.”

YOU CAN’T DO IT, CAN’T, CAN’T, CAN’T! BE THANKFUL THAT I AM HERE TO TEACH YOU HOW TO DO IT THE RIGHT WAY!!!

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Right?

Be Thankful for them.

No?

Why not?

This is why we need to be thankful to the naysayers…

The gratitude comes from being told no, not buying what they are selling, doing it anyhow, and becoming wonderful at whatever it is that makes you happy!

My guy friend is now the Vice President of his company. He joined the military, served his country, went to college, learned how to fly helicopters and has a really, really nice home and two really, really nice cars.  Those things are nice, but what makes him awesome is his heart, his attitude and the simple fact that all the negativity as a child, has turned him into an amazing and pretty damn wonderful man. He helps ex-girlfriends move, he still tries to help an ex-wife who also has some psychological problems and doesn’t talk shit about her. He has great friends that he has basically adopted as his family. When we are walking, he pulls me to the inside of the  street/crosswalk and walks on the outside, so the cars so don’t get me! He has manners. He cares about people, which to me says a lot about a man. And he’s funny as hell. He calls me a tree hugger… He’s just someone I like to be around.

My female friend and co-worker, joined the military as a young woman, then went to the civilian sector, served her country, saw good friends die, put two children through college, paid her own way through college, takes care of her two grand-babies when needed, virtually supported two husbands and has put up with more emotional abuse than any woman should, and somehow she still tries to have, a distant but functional, relationship with her mother. She lives in a beautiful home, where she is still trying to be a wife to husband number 3, (Something there is no way in hell I would do, since I can’t even get past the dating stage after husband No. 1…) She is possibly the most happy and chipper person I know, she takes her life in stride and always sees the brighter side of a negative situation. She is a new friend to me, and I am ecstatic that I finally have someone I can share my mother’s nonsense with, who has the same issues! Misery loves company right?? We actually ping off of each other and then laugh about it all.

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Sometimes, gratitude comes in strange forms. Being thankful for the people who have hurt us is difficult, and seems insane. When you look at it from another perspective, learning a valuable life lesson from a bad situation, that somehow made you the strong, awesome person you have become, (Or could possibly make you into the person you want to be.) doesn’t seem so bad. And while abusive relationships are never ok, they do happen. Surviving the abuse, whether it be mental or physical is not an easy thing to overcome, but it can be the one thing that turns each of us into a mighty sword. Think about all the abuse a Katana sword goes through before it is considered perfect, it is beat on and burned and forged and folded, and then beat on some more, and one day, there it is, the most perfect creation of strength and beauty.

So, my point is, to be thankful today, for the people/things that have hurt you. As difficult as it may be, be grateful. You survived! You lived to tell Your story, so the next person that comes along, like me, doesn’t feel so all alone.

It is true when they say, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” And for this, I will have gratitude.

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**Thank you to all the sword-makers/photographers for their beautiful images

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