Ok, that was a trick title. I’ve never been thankful for my epilepsy. 😬 (My apologies to everyone who farts rainbows, and is ridiculously optimistic like my husband… but keep reading and I think you’ll be pleased… 😊) Yet, there are byproducts of living with this disorder for which I’m grateful and putting them into words reminds me of something we’ve done on several Thanksgivings at my parents’ house. We pick tree leaves and keep them in a basket by the door- at some point before dinner, each person takes one leaf and writes something for which he/she is thankful, then we go around the dinner table and share our leaf.
Here’s what’s “grown” on my tree since last Thanksgiving- a few contenders for my leaf as a result of Epilepsy, if you will. ☺️
I am by no means a great friend. I often don’t return phone calls; I am slow to respond to texts and as such can be very inconsiderate in a non-purposeful way. However, somehow, I am still blessed with the most incredible, giving individuals as a support system. I’ve learned the breadth and depth of some friendships far exceeded my expectations in times of great depression and uncertainty. I learned patience can tame anger, and persistence can conquer loneliness. And I learned the value of living what you say. I’ve been beyond fortunate and I hope you all know who you are…
If epilepsy has taught me anything – and is still teaching me something – it’s okay to be weak because you can also discover strength in your weakness. For through weakness there is vulnerability, and although everyone tries so hard to hide his/her vulnerability, it is one of the most vital threads in bringing us together. I would never know the people I know now, would never have the support system I do, and would never be able to however humbly affect the lives of others if I wasn’t vulnerable. Think about it – when people feel vulnerable as a group- religiously, politically, socially- we bind together. And in that binding with those who share commonalities or compassion, we find strength. I’m thankful for the strength I’ve found in my weakness, my fight against this disease.
I never lied to myself. I was never delusional and claimed I didn’t have epilepsy, like people who claim the holocaust or 911 never happened… Let’s not go that far. But I did lie to myself in terms of how I handled my epilepsy. I didn’t acknowledge its severity and how much it truly impacts the way I live my life. I refused to accept certain boundaries… I also had to come to terms with my expectations of others in response to my epilepsy. People are not mind readers and one can’t hold others responsible for things they know nothing of. This could be a very long explanation, but suffice it to say, if you can’t tell the truth and the facts about yourself, to yourself, how can you ever be your own biggest advocate and expect others to advocate for you?
This is by far one of the things for which I am most thankful. ☺️ My gratitude for the compassion shown by others to myself and my family can never be expressed fully. In return though, I have learned how much more compassion I should possess towards others. I see it in my son’s genuine concern for me and how he tears up anytime something bad is going to happen to a character in a Disney movie… lol There is an innocence and lack of judgment behind his concern and I’m trying my best not to judge people automatically; they may have a hidden story similar to mine. I am by no means Mother Theresa, but I’m learning we often all have a story in need of a little compassion…
Unfortunately, this year we didn’t do leaves… Now we have our own children and therefore lots of “grandchildren chaos” going around. 🙈 However, when we sat at the table and each person clasped the hand next to his/hers and listened to the given prayer, I felt the warmth of those around our table and knew a million thoughts of gratitude were running through each of our heads.
That was perfect this year. We didn’t have to list in order to feel, to know. And although I love the leaf tradition, we all accommodate to the chaos of life and grow according to its changes.
The routine might’ve changed this year but the love and the gratitude never does. I felt it in our hands, smiles, toasts, laughter, and most importantly, the joy of family.
Happy Thanksgiving all. ☺️ And thank you for being part of my extended family… 💜