Friday, November 20, 2020

Coming to the End: My Fight With Gratitude

I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. My journey to and through this diagnosis has been interesting,
painful, enlightening, curious, hard, and full of ups and downs. I started a treatment called EMDR and also started taking medicine to help with my physiological response to stress, triggers, trauma, moments....

In my StrengthsFinder 2.0 test, two of my top strengths are 'strategic and achiever'. Along with the greatness of these strengths also comes the warning to 'slow down, take time, meditate, create mindfulness, seek peace, breathe....' I could go on.

As with all trials in my life, I find that I want to quickly move through them, to find immediate solutions, to act with often frenzied faith, to put a timeline on my current dilemmas, situations, and circumstances. The term "anxiously engaged" for me has never spoken so true. I am anxiously engaged....all the time.

I struggle creating moments of refuge, respite, peace, and healing. Sometimes I feel my only refuge is going to a distant beach somewhere and shirking all responsibilities - something I haven't done in 20+ years. So, I carry on. I 'achieve'. I run faster and faster. I melt down.

Over time, I have become complacent and content with running fast, chalking it up to my strength. And while I acknowledge that it still is a strength I possess, I also realize it is my greatest weakness when I ignore the warnings and become jaded to my experiences. Recently, my counselor asked me how I feel joy. At the time, I couldn't pinpoint what it meant to have 'joy'. I could talk about peace, contentment, safety - but not joy. 

She asked the same thing about gratitude....and you know, I have always had a fight with gratitude - especially as it related to joy. The idea of 'enjoy the journey' is something I have struggled with for a very long time when I am going through hard things.

For several years, I have become very bitter toward shared experiences where someone says, "I am grateful for my trials." I call BS when I hear this, because REALLY? REALLY, you are grateful that so and so passed away, or that you have cancer, or that you are struggling financially....REALLY? 

Wow, written, this seems harsh....but it proves my bitterness, doesn't it?

I know that meekness and gratitude are often something I lack. I know I am stubborn and have pride. This is not new information. In the year since everything changed for me: my marital status, job, living situation, daycare situation, children who are experiencing trauma, financial situation, COVID, new numbing gratitude has been muted. Forget muted - it has been non-existent

With my PTSD, I tried a medication that numbed me. After prayer and discussing different options with my doctor, I chose to go off the medication - I decided I would rather feel ALL of it than not feel ANY of it. This decision is a very personal one, and not everyone should choose to do this. For me, it feels right.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I was able to cry. 

When the Prophet (President Russel M. Nelson) so beautifully talked about the best prescription to feel peace, I couldn't help but feel all the weight of my fight with gratitude disappear. I am so blessed to have a Heavenly Father who loves me so much that He would guide His servant to help me see clearly. 

In my 20-yearish battle with gratitude, I now understand this prescription to feel peace is exactly what has been missing in my life all this time.

And so....I think this is the year (2020) that I will start to experiment on this prescription to feel peace, to finally slow down, to find calm, to stay still, to see how active God is in the lives of others and mine in order to share my gratitude, and to petition the Lord to heal my heart.