November 28, 2010
It has been Thanksgiving week here in the USA.
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?
When you see an incredible sunset or a fascinating unique cloud formation, what do you think?
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?
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.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation