Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving Dance from the BPL collection
This is exactly what Thanksgiving looks like at my house

In my teens, discussing life goals, I was the cynic. I’d snort as only a know-it-all kid can and say, “I bet most janitors never said at our age, ‘when I grow up, I’m going to be a janitor.’”

With age my cynicism waned. Marriage. Children. I found the person with whom I’d spend the rest of my life. I didn’t just embrace the idea. I handcuffed myself to it and threw away the key.

When my marriage ended, I was stunned. Shockwaves the strength of which I had never imagined shook the ground where I stood.

The earthquake is over. An occasional after-tremor, fewer with time, but still every once in a while, I still feel them. Nonetheless, the rebuilding has begun. Through these experiences, I’ve come to recognize the fragility of structures I once imagined solid, unchanging. I’ve also come to savor the reality that in my rebuild, anything is possible.

So now I prepare for my first Thanksgiving in my new world.

Soon I will be surrounded by in-laws, my ex-wife Caroline, my children, my family.

My daughters will watch how I behave. They won’t notice indications of change. Instead, they’ll look for examples reinforcing their belief I, alone was the problem. I was the sole reason my marriage ended, upending their lives.

I can handle their scrutiny.

The Jon who fought losing battles against anxiety has left the building.

I won’t spend the day obsessing because the house isn’t perfect. I won’t spend the day avoiding meaningful conversations because I’m so distracted I cannot focus.

It won’t be a repeat of me resenting my wife and daughters for not understanding how overwrought I feel.

I will remember to take deep breaths. I will remember to respond, not react. This single practice will prevent me from saying things I don’t mean, preventing me from hearing what is actually said, not just that which catches my ear.

When I put so much blame on the end of my marriage upon myself, I became extremely defensive. I’d listen for perceived slights and react like a cornered, scared animal.

No longer defensive, when I hear echoes of the past, I now recall how difficult life was, for all of us. The echoes now fill me with the compassion I couldn’t find then.

For the first time in my life, I don’t feel broken. Scared at times, yes. Anxious? Most of the time. But I have the tools to deal with those feelings. Not to let them control me. It is a transformation that has changed how I perceive my world and is worth all the pain it took to get here.

That dear reader is what I am thankful for on this day of Thanksgiving.

I am also grateful for all of you who read my words. Through your reading, your likes, and comments, it is a remarkably comforting reminder I am not alone.

Stay in touch. Connect.

Jon

P.S. Enjoy.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving 2016

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