Grateful To Be Understood

I didn’t do a gratitude post yesterday. I started writing it last night, but I became depressed and couldn’t continue. I wanted to write about how grateful I am for all the times people have really seen me over the years- the moments where people took the time to listen or get to know me better. I am deeply grateful for those times, but they also remind me that most people don’t stay in your life. No matter how hard you try or how much you want to be a friend to someone, nothing you do can actually make someone stay in your life. They have to decide to stay in your life. And I became depressed thinking about all the people that have decided not to stay in my life.

In that depressed state, I sent a three word text to my friend, “I miss you.” It’s what I always say when I’m hurting. I don’t really have the words to say that I am struggling or depressed or that I need a friend, but saying I miss someone doesn’t seem as selfish as saying that I am not okay. I was surprised to find out that my friend knows I’m struggling when I tell her I miss her. I guess it makes sense that she understands me because she’s my best friend, but it was very comforting to me that she understood.

When I explained how I felt to her, she just said, “I know.” Those two words are so amazing sometimes. Having someone know, understand, or sympathize is incredibly freeing. It means that your pain doesn’t have to all stay inside you. You are not alone anymore because someone else sees.

I still wish that friends stayed more often. I wish that I felt like I am someone people want around. But, I am grateful to be understood by someone. I am grateful for the incredible friends that have stayed in my life. I am grateful for all the people that have taken the time to understand me, to see me, and to keep seeing me and understanding me. I know it is not always easy to be friends with someone, but I am grateful for the people who continually try. Those few friends mean the world to me.

 

Grateful for Talking

I have never felt like I was very good at talking to people. I couldn’t say the letter “R” growing up, which made things even more awkward. I also didn’t have many friends so I didn’t get to practice talking as much as most children. I have a hard time translating my thoughts into words, or more accurately, translating my feelings into thoughts that can become words.

I have been grateful over the years for alternative forms of communication. I have used letters and notes often to tell people what I think and how I feel and to communicate information. I love alternative communication methods because it gives me a voice when I can’t express things any other way. However, I also really love talking.

I am so grateful for people that have allowed me to talk with them in the past few years. I don’t get the privilege of talking to people very often because most people end the conversation before I get a chance to process my thoughts. I have a few friends, though, that let me practice talking with them. They call me and let me figure out how to take turns on the phone without getting frustrated with me or ending the conversation prematurely. These conversations mean a great deal to me and I treasure them for weeks after.

It is still not easy for me to speak out loud. I struggle with conversations at times and can have long periods of awkward silence. But I am grateful for the ability to talk. I am grateful for the opportunities I get to talk to people. I am grateful that some people take the time to listen to me and be patient with me. It has helped me so much.

Grateful for Stuff

I have never put much value in material things. I always have a hard time coming up with a Christmas list because I don’t really want anything other than the basics- food, clothes, a place to live, warmth, transportation, etc. However, if you look at my movies or games or books or room decorations, it is pretty obvious that I have a lot of stuff.  But for me, the stuff isn’t important. It’s what the stuff means that is important.

I have a collection of snow globes and music boxes. Whenever my nieces or nephew come into my room, they enjoy listening to the music and looking at the fun characters inside the globes or boxes. These decorations are an attachment to the children in my life that mean so much to me. Movies are a major form of entertainment in our household. We all watch some form of movie or show almost every day. My movies are a way to gather the family in excitement and anticipation. The same is true of my games. My games are a way to spend time with friends or family in a fun way.

My biggest collection by far is the stuff I have for gifts. I have boxes and bags and closets full of gifts for people. I buy things for all the people in my life all year long, whenever I see something I know they would like. Then, when a birthday or Christmas comes around, I take things out and decide what to give that person for that particular occasion. The gifts I buy and store are an expression of my love for others.

So today, I am grateful for stuff because it allows me to express what is important to me. It allows me to have an outlet for my love for others. Stuff gives me a way to give, to love, to spend time with someone, to be myself. I would be okay if all of my stuff simply disappeared, but I am grateful for the joy it provides to me and others while I have this stuff to give.

Grateful for Faith

Sometimes believing in something bigger than yourself isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes everything in you to believe that there is something better than how things are right now. In the desperate times though, faith has been the one thing that I have been able to cling to. Faith is what I am left with when everything else fails or falls away. Faith is my constant. Faith is my core.

I am so grateful for the faith that has guided me through difficult circumstances. I am grateful for the faith that has stayed with me when hope seemed to slip away. Life gets complicated and difficult and even unbearable at times, but that faith that there is something else helps me through the rough times. I may not have anything else left in me, but I am grateful that I can still keep a glimmer of faith no matter what happens.

Grateful for the Big Picture

I had my last midterm of the quarter today. There is only about 3 more weeks of school before finals, which is both relieving and stressful. I feel like I have been doing homework constantly since the semester started. Sometimes it all seems like too much, and I get frustrated that I’m not understanding everything, and it seems easier to just quit. That’s when I have to remind myself about the purpose for all this.

This is my second bachelor’s degree. If I wanted, I could have a career right now doing something that I do well. But… I am going to school because I want to learn how to do something that I enjoy. As stressful as things get in the moment, it’s just a drop in the water of something much bigger in my life. I want to do well in school. I want to understand the concepts. I want to be able to complete all my assignments without stressing out too much. When I step back and look at the big picture, one assignment is not a big deal. One test or project or class is not nearly as important as what I am doing here.

I am grateful that looking at the big picture puts things in perspective for me. I am grateful that I can step back from the stress and realize that it will all work out. And on nights when I am frustrated that I am not understanding something, I am grateful that I can separate myself from the situation for a moment, let things go, and just sleep.

Grateful for Opportunities to Spend Time with Others

I have felt incredibly well over the last few weeks, which has allowed me to do more than ever before. I have been to all my church activities and taken advantage of every opportunity to spend time with friends or talk to people. It has been absolutely wonderful.

There are days when depression makes me not want to see or interact with anyone. I am an incredibly social person. I love spending time with people and talking to them. But autism and depression can make interacting exhausting. And there are times when I don’t want to try.

I do a scripture study group with a few friends on Sunday nights. We have been meeting at my house for a few months now, and it has been such a blessing for me. There have been Sundays where I thought about cancelling the group because I felt depressed and didn’t want to see anyone, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to deprive anyone of our weekly study time. On those days, the group meant even more to me. I didn’t want to have to try, but I needed the company. I needed to be around people. And that weekly group has been a constant that has helped me through difficult times.

Now that I am feeling better, I am grateful that I can take advantage of so many opportunities to spend time with others. But I am even more grateful for the opportunities I had when I wasn’t feeling well. I couldn’t always take advantage of them, but they meant so much to me and helped me so much when I was struggling with things no one there may have realized. Those moments have helped me in my darkest times. And I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given and for the people who made those opportunities possible.

Grateful for Goodness

I have been struggling today. I watched a show last night that had some teenagers bullying others, and it just broke me. The show was made well and had a good message and everything ended on a good note, but seeing people being mean to someone else was more than I could handle. I haven’t really been okay since then. I am not sure why I am so sensitive to these types of things or why it hits me so hard emotionally, but it takes a long time to get me back to normal after something like this.

It makes me more grateful for all of the goodness in the world though. It makes me grateful for everything that every person everywhere does to try to help someone else. Today is Veteran’s Day in America and I am grateful for the people that have served and are serving our country in the armed forces. There are so many people that sacrifice so much for others. From people in the military to teachers to nurses to parents, and so many more, there are many people in the world working to make this a better place.

On a day like today when I am drowning because of all the bad in the world, I am so grateful that there is so much good to focus on instead. Maybe there will always be bad things that happen. No one is perfect, and there will probably always be people who hurt others intentionally. But there are many more people who are trying to help others. There are many more people who are trying to generate goodness. It may not make everything better, but on a day like today, I can be grateful for the good in the world.

 

Grateful for Caring Leaders

I have had some really amazing leaders in the last few years. From a kind and understanding boss to church leaders that have become wonderful friends. I think we sometimes overlook good leadership. People tend to notice more when things go wrong than when things go right. Sometimes the best leaders are the ones you never hear about.

I am so grateful for the leaders I have had over the years. I am grateful for their service. I am grateful for their friendship. I am grateful that so many have taken the time to know me as an individual. I am grateful that they saw my potential and allowed me to have experiences to grow and contribute. I am grateful that they noticed when I was struggling or responded positively when I told them I was struggling with something.

I could name dozens of leaders over the years from many areas of my life that have impacted my life for the better. I am so grateful for each of them. I am grateful for all they taught me and for all they helped me become. I hope that I am that kind of leader as well. I hope that I encourage people and help them to be their best self. I hope that I give people opportunities to shine and contribute. I hope that I am as good of a leader as I have had the experience of serving under in my life because I am so very grateful for all they have done for me.

Grateful for a Best Friend

Thinking about the last two years, there is one thing (or rather, person) that I am grateful for more than anything else that has happened in that time. Becoming friends with my best friend, Shannon, is by far the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in the last two years. I cannot describe the joy and peace and love that she has brought into my life.

She taught me how to trust. She helped restore my faith in people. There is no one that I feel more safe with or more loved with than her. She has brought such a beautiful peace into my life. She has given me hope in the worst of circumstances. She has been my constant in a world of disorder and uncertainty. She has helped me make more progress individually and personally than anyone else.

Shannon, if you are reading this, know that you have changed my life. There are very few people that I am more grateful for than you. Your friendship means everything to me. Your love has made the biggest difference in my life. Thank you so much for everything.

Thank you for seeing who I really was and could be. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. Thank you for the long nights when you were there for me in my most desperate hours. Thank you for the times you helped me or stayed with me when I was sick or hurting. Thank you for being the friend I always wanted but never knew existed. Thank you for allowing me to practice talking with you. Thank you for allowing me to be autistic with you. Thank you for letting me not be okay sometimes and not judging me or condemning me for it. Thank you for never making me feel like less than a person. Thank you for helping me to not be scared anymore. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself.

There are so many more things I would thank you for. I would thank you for every note you ever wrote me, every picture you ever sent me, every prayer you ever prayed for me, every conversation we ever had together. But I think most of all, I would thank you for every smile, for every night that I wasn’t lonely, for every breath that I felt at peace because of your wonderful, beautiful, perfect friendship. I know that you are not perfect, and our friendship is not perfect, but you have been the perfect friend to me. You have healed my heart and mind, and I could not be more grateful for all you have done for me. Thank you. Thank you for being the best friend I could have ever asked for.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude Posts

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays because it is such a humble holiday. It is one of the most overlooked holidays, being squeezed in between Halloween and Christmas, but one of the most needed holidays as well. It reminds us, before we look to gifts, to look at what we have now and value it. It reminds us around the time that many are purchasing gifts that the greatest gift you can give is a piece of yourself. When we go around the Thanksgiving table saying what we are grateful for, we don’t generally mention material possessions nearly as much as we mention love and people and experiences. Thanksgiving is all about everything you can’t see or hear or touch but instead have to feel and experience.

A few years ago, I did a series of blog posts during November about what I was grateful for. I have been so immensely blessed in the last couple years that I again feel the need to share all that I am grateful for. So, for the next two weeks, I will be sharing at least one post a day about all the things I have been grateful for in the last two years.