It’s Been A Tough Year, But I’m Still Grateful For So Many Things

Looking back at the challenges and the joys

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The Roman statesman, Cicero, said that gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all the others. It’s not always easy to access that feeling when life is a bit bumpy, and this year has been both a very good one and a very bumpy one too. I don’t want to ignore the hard stuff and pretend it never happened. Finding gratitude in the midst of all of that is a much more powerful practice than simply naming all of the things that went well. This inventory of the year is really mostly for me, but sharing it is also a way for me to own it more fully.

In no particular order:

My Mom’s health is continuing to deteriorate and she’s still resisting going into any kind of care facility. She’s been to the emergency room 5 times in the past 6 months, and the stress of this on me, her last living relative, has been overwhelming at times, particularly since I live a thousand miles away from her.

I’m grateful for all of her friends and neighbors who continually step up and help to take care of her. Their love and support makes us both feel like we have a much bigger family than we do, and I know that she’s being looked after, even when I can’t be there to do it. They are also starting to encourage Mom to be more realistic about what kind of care she does need, and that will help bolster my position when I go there next week for a visit.

My son Hugh’s seizures really amped up this year and our attempts to manage them with pharmaceuticals was a complete disaster. We never even got him up to a therapeutic dose on any of the 3 medicines that we tried because they made him so angry and agitated. There were many times that I felt helpless just watching him seize and wondering how on earth we were going to ever make things any better for him. Hugh would typically recover from a seizure the next day, but it often took me 2 or 3 days to recover from watching him go through one.

I’m grateful that things seem to be at least somewhat controlled with the more holistic approach that we’ve tried, which includes neurofeedback and CBD oil. I’m especially thankful that Hugh has never been seriously hurt during a seizure, with only a few minor scrapes and bruises. I’m excited that the brand of CBD that we use just opened a store up the street from us, and that Hugh qualifies for their compassionate program, where we get 30% off retail.

My husband James had a very stressful job that was negatively affecting his health and impacting all of our lives for the worse because of the strain it was putting on him. We moved here for him to take that position, and it was rough right from the get-go. I can hardly believe that he survived three years there.

I am grateful that James was able to retire early and to not only reclaim his health and sanity but to embark upon new aspects of his life. He is now able to spend more quality time with Hugh and with me and he’s having fun making delicious meals for our family and writing about some of the funny things that happen as he’s doing so. His Medium career took off with a bang, and that’s been fun to see. We love where we live, and wouldn’t have come here, but for that job.

My partner Nat and I went through some rough patches as we embarked on our 3rd year living in different parts of the country. Long-distance relationships are hard, and ours is particularly so since it’s not your typical romance, even by polyamorous standards.

I’m very grateful that I finally figured out how to wrap my head around this and embraced how to make it work, despite all the ways that it doesn’t fit into standard molds. Understanding at last that I needed to stop trying to make it into what it used to be when we lived near each other changed everything. Now I love what we have, the way that we have it and everything is a whole lot better because I’m no longer fighting reality.

The non-profit coaching organization that I had been a part of for 13 years and that I dearly loved, went through a transformation that I considered to be for the worse. The place that had in many ways been a safe space for me and an oasis from the world because of the very cooperative and partnership-oriented way that we related to each other was taken over by people deeply steeped in hierarchical management styles.

All of the things that I did to try to preserve what was dear to me, but also the best way of doing business (in my opinion), was not only fruitless but ultimately held against me. I was defending what the organization stood for at its core but was seen as an agitator and a problem. I had to completely remove myself from any association with the organization and the people in it that I loved. It broke my heart.

I am grateful for a chance to be semi-retired and to spend more time with James. I have used a lot of the free time that I now have to focus on bringing my Medium presence and earnings to a place that I am satisfied with. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and now I am. I have much more time and bandwidth to devote to that pursuit now.

One of my stories even went viral and because of that, I was contacted by a photographer who wants to partner with me on a book. We’ve begun work on that project and I look forward to sinking my teeth into it a bit more deeply in the new year.

This year really tired me out and took a bit of a toll on my health. At times I’ve felt quite beaten down and just flat out fried.

And I’m really grateful that most of that is behind me and that I can continue to regroup and heal, both in body and in spirit. Now that James is home, I have more help with Hugh and with keeping up with the house. Life isn’t perfect but for the first time in a really long time, I am not constantly overwhelmed and exhausted.

I am grateful for my family, for my friends, and for my work. I’m so grateful for the relationship with my lover Tamara that is never anything but wonderful and nourishing. I’m grateful to have a chance to write about and publish things that are interesting and meaningful to me and to be a part of this community. I’m thankful for the opportunities to learn and grow that all of these challenges brought to me, and for those who helped me to navigate them. It was a hard year, but in many ways, also a very good one.

I am thankful for unknown blessings, already on their way.

© Copyright, Elle Beau 2020
Elle Beau writes on Medium about sex, life, relationships, society, anthropology, spirituality, and love.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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