Thanksgiving is the time to be thankful for what we have, for the people in our lives, for the food and shelter that we have, and for the lives we have had. It is meant to be a good holiday, with time to relax, watch the Macy’s Day parade, cheer for our favorite football team, have an incredible meal, go to movies, chatter with close friends and family, enjoy freedom and all the goodness of life.
Thanksgiving is usually a good day.
But the world is a cruel place.
And for many people, there is a lot that has happened that has been anything but good, or pretty, or wonderful.
Too many people are struggling. Depression dominates. Darkness permeates too much.
Too often, the world is a vicious place.
There are sadistic abusers that hurt and devastate children in every country of the world.
There are thousands of destructive diseases, starving children, destroyed families, broken spirits, and wounded souls meandering around in our world. There are far too many wars, polluted lands, toxic waters, drug overdoses, and homeless people.
The world is not a pretty place.
There is ugliness and coldness splattered everywhere.
It is difficult to find a good faithful friend.
It is difficult to find loyal, trustworthy people who won’t betray you or leave you.
It is difficult to find people who care or express compassion or gentleness or have time to listen.
It is difficult to find someone to love that equally and freely loves you back.
All too many people feel alone, heart-broken, saddened, and hurt to the very depths of their core.
Others are embattled in wars against the injustices of the world or trapped in chronic poverty.
Having a life filled with trauma and abuse both destroys and deepens the survivors of violence. Trauma and abuse makes people find ways to cope that are beyond what anyone else can comprehend. But trauma and abuse also leave scars that last for a lifetime.
With all the darkness in the world, what is there to be thankful for?
What is there to appreciate or to enjoy?
Some days it’s just not so easy to find those good things.
Even though it feels like it, everything was not taken from you.
What is it that you hang on to?
Where can you go in your mind that takes you to your very own place of happiness and safety?
Where do you find beauty?
What brings a smile to your face and warms your soul?
What gives you a feeling of peace, and security, and solidity?
Do you find it in nature?
When you see an incredible sunset or a fascinating unique cloud formation, what do you think?
When you see the beauty of autumn leaves or waterfalls or bright green grass, what do you feel?
When you smell honeysuckle blossoms or newly opened roses, what do you feel?
When a butterfly sits on your finger or when a baby bunny hops in front of you or you hold sleeping baby puppies, what do you feel?
What do you feel when you hear a song that reaches your soul? Do you prefer instrumental music? Or do you prefer to listen to the words of your favorite singer? Do the rhythms of your favorite songs create an aliveness within your spirit that makes you want to dance?
Do you find comfort in a cup of warm tea or in the scent of an aromatic candle or the softness of a clean blanket?
What about when you see small children’s eyes twinkle when they squeal with glee as they learn something new.
Does that bring out your own sparkle?
Finding your own sparkle moments will help to remember that life can be good, and that life can be appreciated, and that there are things to be thankful for.
Is life perfect?
Oh, absolutely not.
Certainly not for the people who have been the targets of sadistic abusers and manipulative con artists.
Life is far far far from perfect when you’ve been thrown around and beat up in tumultuous storms.
But there are still a few good things out there – those places that hold beauty and joy — that can never be taken away.
Hold on to your inner self – your soul, your spirit. The world can stomp hard on those places, but protect yourself best you can. Others out in the world may not understand why or how you are doing this, but it is up to you to protect yourself from harm in any way that you can until you feel safe enough to not have to. Don’t forget — even in times of tight rigid self-protection, you can find sparkle and joy and warmth – but once you shut others out of your world, it definitely will be up to you to do that for yourself.
Create moments every day that bring that a hint of joy to mind. You don’t’ have to be jumping up and down with joy to feel joy. A little spark of joy is a good start.
Create something – anything. Creating is the opposite of dying so when you create something, you are adding to the value of your life. Creating something new is a way of creating life itself.
Write a story, compose a song, choreograph a dance, cook a new dish, draw a picture, paint a painting, make some jewelry, plant a garden, sing a jingle, organize a pile of clutter, sew a shirt, embroider a design, build a bookshelf, make a guitar, clean a mess, re-style your hair, paint your nails, carve a bar of soap, bake some bread, etc.
When you can, adventure out of your protective walls and find something outside of your home that creates a sparkle moment for you. Take an adventure walk around your neighborhood – can you find anything at all that brings a smile to your face? Ever so carefully, gently interact with others out in your neighborhood, local stores or churches. Gradually, by finding places that can give you joy when you are outside of your home, you will remember that the world is not all bad.
Even when it feels like you have lost everything and everyone, you can find something to be thankful for if you stay alive in your spirit and soul.
Many trauma survivors feel that their soul has died or taken from them, but I am willing to bet that it has not. It might be well hidden and covered up, but it is there. You may very well need to nurture it back to life, but you can do that with the things that create those sparkle moments.
Make it a goal to find something to be grateful for everyday.
Find the beauty out there in your world. Search for things you can appreciate.
Depression and darkness do not have to dominate anymore.
Your ability to feel thankful and to have gratitude will help to change your life back towards the positive, one sparkle moment at a time.
I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
We hate Thanksgiving because its so fake around our household. People just use it as an excuse to eat too much. Also tv thanksgivings are so fake. Are there actually any real people who go around the table saying what theyre thankful for? Are there any real families put there that give hugs and say I love you? Or say they are having youre in their life? Are there real parents out there who care about their kids? We doubt it. It’s just not been true for US.
Thanksgiving in MY reality is listening to my family tell stupid jokes about sex and child trafficking and trying to gaslight you. And acting stupid. And laughing at you. Thanksgiving in MY reality is listening to mean jokes about people and feeling five years old. There are no hugs or I love yous or lists of things people are grateful for. That’s MY reality.
Sorry. Feeling surly. Stupid holiday. I am grateful that things could be lots, lots worse. Even though Another person in our family got diagnosed with cancer and a friend of the family died the other day, the immediate family is healthy. Everyone in the family that wants a job has one. Things could be much much worse. So grateful for that.
its very dark and lonely right now. feeling trapped and alone and far away from everything that is good, and from good people. suicidal feelings and anxiety and feeling like a rat trapped in a maze. Thanksgiving meal is full of anxiety and fears. we have so much bad memories and all that, from being around family. but i am still thankful that the inside kids got to see Santa in the parade this morning, that was a little bit of a bright spot. I’m glad the inside kids still believe in Santa.
Ahhh Jodie…..Hope things are better for you now that the holiday is over…..We moved to the other side of the country because being around “certain” family was really hard on us although we couldn’t understand, at the time, the “why” of the depths of that struggle….We keep in touch by phone with those who we DO feel OK with……
We are, at this time, no longer a “holiday” person….Internal struggles have taken away the “joy” of it and we feel much anxiety and despair (still figuring THAT one out, too)…..if it wasn’t for hubby who was expecting a “holiday” meal….”we” would have been OK with a peanut butter sandwich on Thanksgiving…but we STILL have to meet Outside expectations… Our great holiday treat was to NOT have to be at our Outside job….trying to “measure up”….to do “OK”…..and never quite feeling like we did…….always “on guard”……”Breathing space” was WAY more important to us than a meal……
Holidays leave “me” feeling really “off-balance”….”overwhelmed”…..sooooo – “I” try to focus on the “joy” that others are having in the holiday…..I make myself be happy for THEM….that they can actually “feel” what i wish I could feel….It is like watching a child get excited about Santa Claus…..”You” yourself may not be so excited….but you feel “happy” that THEY are…..
I am glad you had that “bright spot” Jodie….Let your Inside kids be happy….to still believe….
Great article. I was a little concerned when I started reading it. It sounded a lot like my thoughts when I was struggling with depression. You are so right, the world is a cruel place and you have to really search for things to be thankful for. I’ve worked hard the past few years to overcome my depression and have managed to develop a positive perspective on life by immersing myself in positivity, building my esteem and increasing my faith. It took a lost of hard work but it is possible and now I’m working with other people through workshops and coaching. People can learn to be happy and love life even though they have been through violent and abusive situations. I have personally met several success stories and the common denominator is hope. If I can change from being 90% negative and extremely unhappy to being 90% positive and full of joy, anyone can.
Kathy Broady says
Reblogged this on Discussing Dissociation and commented:
It’s Thanksgiving weekend, 2013. This article was written on Thanksgiving, 2010, but the thoughts and sentiments are still there. Holidays are often difficult times. Please know that I remember that many of you are struggling on these days. Hold tight. You are not forgotten. Warmly, Kathy
this yere be wers than last yere 🙁
last yere be bad but this yere be bader
there be to mutch bad efreware speshaly inside it be wers then last yere
I don’t know what to be happy about sometimes 🙁 I just hurt so much and scream till I don’t have anymore energy to but then still have to find energy to say “I cant scream anymore please help” so just waiting for all the horribleness to be over. 🙁
Kathy!!! It’s snowing again!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀
Maybe I am just in a dark place but I found the listing of “bad things” really difficult even triggering when I first read it. Yes, there are horrible realities in the world but all of us on here know that already. On the other hand the positive words and suggestions were very useful. I just wish the overall emphasis was more positive. But maybe, as I said, that’s just me.
Kathy I have sent you an email. Please read it.
Kathy Broady says
IP — done. 🙂
I like really hot baths.
Hot, hot, hot.
That I like 🙂
Even on hard days like today (and this month and last month…) I can at least be thankful for hot showers & the fact that I have a warm bed to sleep in. Thats more than a lot of people have and it makes me feel better to know that I’ve been that blessed.
And is it my imagination or has the snow re-appeared on your blog? That’s something else to be thankful for…the fact that I live someplace that it doesn’t snow.
Things are sad for us right now. Very dark times. Very difficult to rememer the sunny times. First our dog died. Now we can’t go walking as we are no longer so brave. My pup was only little but when we were together we were 10 feet tall. Now my sister has cancer and we went with her to a hospice to visit. We are drowning in death and my little keeps crying and just when we want to be doing good we are falling falling falling down the big hole.
Kathy Broady says
Oh no… that really is a bunch of sadness and grief – I’m so sorry to hear that. Puppies and sisters are very important, and you will feel their loss for a very long time. I’m sorry it hurts so much right now – some periods of time are like that — just so painful. Hopefully, someday you will feel ready to get another puppy who will become extra special to you as well, I’m sure. I’m sorry about your sister….
Thinking of you,
I like ALL baby animals… Puppies and kittens and little furry chicks.
I love dolphins, wish I was one. I wish I was a dolphin trainer!
I like being in a candy store, the ones that have the candy ALL over!
Toys R Us…. So fun!
I use to have a Strawberry shortcake doll and when you squeezed her tummy she blew strawberry breath… I’m gonna have to find one of those!
Walking down main street at Disney World. There’s all those people selling balloons and Cinderella’s castle is right in front of you… Magical!
I love the balloons that have the Mickey shaped balloon inside it… Always wanted one of those.
Swinging in a hammock.
Watching my dog jump in the water and swim he’s so funny!
My youngest son’s laugh is amazing! He has the best laugh ever!! It can be healing even.
Squirrels eating peanuts.. Sooooo cute!
These things I’m thankful for.
It’s just really hard sometimes.
Thank you very much for caring enough to write this. I truly appreciate it.
Kathy Broady says
You’re welcome. Thanks for your comment, and yes, it is really hard sometimes. Maybe one of these days, it won’t feel so difficult….
Sending you warm thoughts,
Sometime I get stuck in the sad.
We afraid to be happy cuz then we get careless and stupid and make mistakes.
We get happy, then we get crushed.
We be stupid and dumb.
So we kinda scared to be happy cuz then we get yelled at.
So we not allowed.
But we wanna be but they won’t let us.
They hurt us.
So then we can’t be happy.
Maybe we forgot how.
We try, but we can’t find beauty no more. We dunno where it went.
yay kathey these be lots of good words.
there be lots to be happy bout even thow there be lots to be sad bout
you got to practiss loking for nice and happy things.
we like flowers and babys and puppys and kittys and sun shine and buterflys and go outside and nise pepole and things that be sparkoly and jesus and all the things there are that be pretty. there oways be things to be thankfull for.
from claire. and tuck.
tuck say and pizza to, be thankfull for pizza.