The term “being grateful” conjures up feelings of gratefulness for: happiness, job security, and health. These are all wonderful qualities to be grateful for.
But for me, I am grateful for my husband’s injuries.
Without diving too far into the pas or circumstance, you should know that my husband was in a severe accident in 2013. The accident resulted in a back broken in three places, a brain injury (diffused axonal injury), and paralysis from the knee down in the left leg.
Yet, for these things I am grateful.
Let me be clear I am not thankful that the injuries happened. There have been many days that I blamed myself, even though consciously I knew it wasn’t my fault. But I have chosen to live in and with a perspective that makes me grateful for the outcomes that we now live with.
A not-for-profit in the community that we live recently hosted the real-life couple (Kim and Kricket Carpenter) that “The Vow,” was dramatized and scripted after to share their inspirational story and encourage other marriages. In the book The Vow, Kim Carpenter states,
“Each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experienced with all the people we’ve ever known.”
When I share that I am grateful, it is out of the ability to grow not only in myself but also with my husband, in our relationship, and as a family, because that was almost forever halted.
I am grateful that as a result of his injuries we have had to learn to communicate better and actually say what we mean- well, he does not have a problem with that.
I am on the other hand still learning.
We have become more organized as a family: dry-erase calendars decorate our home and synced google calendars link our phones. We have become submissive to each other based on our abilities. He can no longer commit to a work schedule, but can cook a mean pot roast. I cycle the laundry through the washer and dryer, and he can sit in his reclining chair and fold the clothes.
It is literally the simple things, which makes our new normal- well normal.
We have learned to appreciate each other in our former roles as well as the roles we currently hold.
When I get home from work now, I can understand why he needed a time of un-winding before, and likewise, he understands this for me now. Even outside of our nuclear family, we have made adjustments. Because of his brain injury not only does my husband have short term memory loss, but his temperament is different. In some ways better, but in other ways I wonder where the man I married went; his resolve has lessened, his stamina depleted, his confidence sometimes non-existent. I have had to learn to develop a thicker skin, and he has had to learn to apologize…talk about humbling.
Boundaries have had to be set, boundaries that we have not had in the past. This hurts me to my core, we are missing relationships that are so important, and while we have no expectation to play “woe is me,” we do understand that for us life is and must be different due to limitations that didn’t exist before.
These are only honest realities, not excuses.
Others must be willing to accommodate the changes that are necessary for the success of our nuclear family; if they cannot, that is their declaration that the relationship isn’t valued. Sadly, we have lost friends and even some family. Maybe someday those relationships can be rekindled, but in the meantime we know the value we have of ourselves, and our family.
I am grateful because I have watched my girls grow, although some would say matured too quickly for their age. I have watched them empathize with others, fight for those that are less fortunate, create bonds within our walls, and step-up when others have had to step-down.
Every day we are given a choice, we can simmer and become angry in the cards we are handed, or be happy we were dealt any cards at all. We all have it bad at some point, keep in mind the point at the top of the mountain isn’t the win – making it back down to the other-side is where we can claim our victory.
So I challenge you, remember the quote from before, “Each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experienced with all the people we’ve ever known.”
When times start getting hard, get grateful. Start adding by the people and moments you can be grateful for, not dividing by circumstance.