Well, I am a terrible blogger. Dear readers, I am sorry that I have abandoned you. I have no excuses except that life happens, but I have been thinking about this blog a lot. Since it is Thanksgiving week, it seems fitting that I should talk about gratitude. During November I have been watching so many people on social media share daily about all things in their lives, big and small, that feel thankful to have. While I don’t have it nearly together enough to share a post each day, I love that scrolling through and seeing what others are sharing reminds me to think through all of the blessings and good things in my life.
Let me start off by saying that I have a lot to be grateful for. The two cutest kids in the world, a spouse that loves me and supports me and laughs with me. I have parents that have made sure that I have known from the moment I was born that took my disability absolutely in stride and helped self-confidence blossom in me that has made a big difference in my life. I always knew I was loved and that there would be a safe place to land when things got tough. My brothers are two of the hardest working and funny guys around. We are not family that is big on hugs or saying “I love you”, but show it by showing up and supporting each other in big and little things. My in-laws are so generous with their time and talents and have enriched my life so much. I am lucky to have wonderful friends across the country that laugh at my jokes and put up with my swearing. I have a job I love and get to work with so many smart and talented people every day. I am blessed to be involved with a nonprofit that I know is helping people.
What a list. There are so many more things that I that I could (and probably should) name. Thinking about gratitude brings to mind a story. A couple of years ago I was at an infertility support group. Many of the women there were expressing their gratitude for infertility – saying that sure, it was tough and terrible, but a lot of good had come into their lives with all that heartache, and for that, they were grateful. I was not one of those women. I straight up said, “Look, maybe I am just still angry or maybe I am not mature, but I am not grateful for infertility.” Since that day I have revisited that moment in my head many times and considered if my perspective had changed. I have also though a lot about whether I am grateful for my disability. And here is the thing: I don’t know. I know I am not angry about infertility any more, and I can more easily see the good things that have come into my life because infertility was part of it. As far as the disability, for many years, it never occurred to me to be grateful for it. Over the years, I have had lots of people say things to me such as, “Don’t you think being disabled helped you become so strong/fearless/persistent?” Honestly? I have no idea. There is just me – there is not disabled Melanie and regular Melanie. I could not say which parts of my personality are influenced by disability and which ones I showed up from heaven already having in me. (PSA: don’t say this kind of stuff to people with disabilities – ESPECIALLY STRANGERS. Comments like “well, at least you are not in a wheelchair” are also not helpful. I don’t need you to put it all in perspective for me). Also, some parts of being disabled just plain suck.
So I am not sure if I am thankful for my disability, but what I am sure of is that I wouldn’t trade my life as it is now, for a life in an alternate universe where I never grew that tumor. I know that I am beautiful and wonderful just as I am, with far more blessings in my life than I can count. And I am certain that I life I wouldn’t trade in is definitely something to be thankful for.