Today I was thankful for something that I thought I could never be thankful for.
Every family has a deep dark secret that they don’t want anyone to find out about.
My family certainly does.
The last couple of weeks I’ve been fighting that life sucking thing called depression. It creeps in so slowly that at first I don’t notice, and then slowly, I’m dreading waking up in the morning.
At first I thought it was due to the nausea and headaches I’ve been having, but when I took a good long look at why life felt meaningless and empty to me, why I suddenly hated the town I live in, hated my apartment, I knew there was something more.
Last year at this time, my life was full of work and fun. I saw my family every weekend, and if I ever got lonely, I could always pop in and see them anytime. I went to the lake with my sisters, I played ultimate frizbee with my siblings once a week.
Life was good.
This summer is completely different.
Half my family won’t even talk to each other.
After my Dad’s brain hemorrhage that left him confined to his chair, depressed and having several seizures a day, my family fell apart right around the time of his sudden recovery.
The relationships in our family were held together by threads. Before my Dad’s sickness we weren’t in a good place. During his sickness we stuffed our feelings. We stuffed the hurt and the pain that we felt. We took what was dealt to us and each managed our pain in our own ways.
Years of wounds, years of pain, we kept it locked away as we cared for him and sympathized with my Mom.
And then, he recovered.
He recovered just as quickly as he had gotten sick, but not in time for his family to stay together. We had already fallen apart.
Was it his sickness that tore us apart?
No. It was years of unresolved issues. Years of pretending that everything was okay, when nothing was okay.
It wasn’t his sickness that tore us apart, but it was his sickness that brought the problems to light.
Somebody commented to me today, “So your Dad’s sickness didn’t pull your family closer together.”
Was is supposed to?
I don’t believe it was. I believe it was supposed to do exactly what it did. Refine us.
Our family could never be pulled closer with all of the issues that were there. As I try to picture that in my mind, all I can think is, disaster. Being pulled closer with all of those issues would have been a disaster.
The depression that I’m fighting right now, it comes from knowing that nothing can ever go back to the way it was. It comes from feeling so lonely for the ones that I was always closest to, but now can’t be in the same room with, without an argument coming up.
I don’t want to fight these feelings for the rest of my life, so what am I gonna do about it?
I’m gonna get out there and build relationships outside of blood, and for the relationships with blood, I’m gonna rebuild what can be rebuilt. I’m going to make this most of this life.
I’m going to have as much joy as possible. I’m going to be thankful for the breath in my lungs and choose to make the most of this life that I’ve been given.
With that in mind, I find myself thankful.
I’m thankful for what I thought was impossible to be thankful for. I’m thankful for the state of my family.
I’m thankful that we are being refined by what can seem like meaningless arguments. I’m thankful that so many wounds are being reopened in order to find true healing.
I believe that one day, we will be a big happy family together for Christmas and Thanksgiving. For now though, I’ll be thankful for being refined.