Grateful for the Good in Your Life

[photo credit: flickr user Keri Logan]
Thanksgiving is not about the turkey or the football game or the parade. It’s not about just how many family members you’ve gathered around your table or how close your celebration can come to looking like the front of a Thanksgiving card. It’s not even about the mouth-watering meal and all its delicious sides.

It’s a holiday that has its purpose built into its name: thanks giving.

But how can you give thanks when you’re bearing such a weighty sorrow about your family situation?

Or be grateful when you feel so out of sorts with how “everyone else” is celebrating Thanksgiving?

How can you even feel grateful when you scroll through your social media feeds and see that “everyone you know” is sharing bright, beautiful photos of happy families and delightful memory-making moments?

The truth is that it’s difficult … but not impossible to foster gratitude amid the difficulties.

I’ve already written about finding something to be grateful for on Thanksgiving (and beyond) and five ideas for a peaceful Thanksgiving. So, today, I want to focus specifically on you.

If you’re reading this on Thanksgiving, you’re most likely not in the best family situation. Because this is a website dedicated to adult survivors of emotional child abuse and you’re reading this, you probably have a toxic situation with your parents. And maybe today, the hurt of that emotional wound is aggravating you more than usual.

The pain’s a little sharper, the hole feels a little deeper, the sorrow bites more coldly into you.

Know that you’re not alone in this hurt. And know that this pain will, in time, hurt you less. As more time rolls along and you grow in your healing through therapy and prayer and boundary-setting, you’ll find yourself more and more able to foster gratitude in your life …

In time, you may become grateful for the fact that your eyes were opened to the abuse you suffered and now you can tackle the issues that have plagued you from the shadows.

What you suffered is terrible and horrific, no one is glad for abuse, but you can be glad that you see the abuse for what it is: a hidden, invisible monster terrorizing you. Be grateful that you now can see it and avoid it.

You may find a sense of gratitude for the person who you are becoming, the person who God wants you to be (not who your parents tried to force you into becoming). You may, in time, be grateful that, despite all the sorrow and pain, you are here, alive and functioning and creating a new, emotionally healthier life.

But that gratitude, my friends, doesn’t come swiftly nor automatically.

Gratitude takes time and a readjustment of your emotional lens. It’s not belittling who you were or mocking people who have good families. Nor hiding your pain or burying all your grief and hurts, which is unhealthy and leads to greater grief and hurt. It’s not ignoring what happened. It’s not automatic forgiveness for those who hurt you because you want to get to the “feeling better” part of the healing journey. Nor always picking at your wounds and seeing only the darkness around you.

No, gratitude is finding yourself still standing, despite it all, and being glad that you are. It’s that sense that you have survived emotional brutality against you … and are alive and seek help and have hope for better days ahead.

Grief, sorrow, hurt, pain, regret, anger … all these have not extinguished your desire to be here, to seek help, to want to be an emotionally healthier you.

Gratitude is looking at your life and finding joy there, even if it is in the tiniest of glimmers.

Not the “I won the lottery, I’m so grateful” attitude. But the small, quiet joys that make up a day. A good conversation with friend, a perfect cup of coffee, a favorite song on the radio, a nature walk, a moment of quiet prayer …

Some adult survivors find it almost impossible to find this joy. They feel they are composed only of their past, that everyone’s out to get them, that nothing—not one tiny thing—in their life is good. Having that viewpoint keeps them in constant loop, so they do not go forward in the journey towards healing. They find it easier (and more comfortable) to remain in a constant state of resentment and hurt and anger than to find ways to cope with those emotions and work through them to an emotionally healthier life.

You don’t want to be like that.

Even if you can only be grateful for just a minute a day, if you find that the only thing to be grateful for is that you aren’t dead, that’s a huge thing to be grateful for. Being alive is a tremendous gift to be grateful for.

Your gratitude doesn’t need to be for the showy, enormous, money-raining moments of life. Being grateful is a mindset of happiness for the small, lovely things in an ordinary day.

Doing that may sound hokey or cheesy. “Really? Grateful for such a small, insignificant thing?”

But the truth is that the smaller things are what make up a day. After all, it was the small yet constant, unyielding barrage of damaging comments and neglect and silent treatment and belittling through your childhood that led to the deep gash on your heart.

“If all small things can cause so much sorrow,” a friend recently told me, “then can’t it mean that many small things can cause so much joy?”

She makes an excellent point.

On this Thanksgiving Day, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Know you’re not alone in your sorrow … and that you’re not alone in your desire to become more emotionally healthy and steady.

Onward, friend. Onward.

Veronica Jarski is the founder and writer of The Invisible Scar, a passion project dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse and its effects on adult survivors. She has extensive editorial experience and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her work has been featured on myriad online publications. She also is the author of an e-book about waking up to the realization that one had an emotionally abusive childhood.

14 thoughts on “Grateful for the Good in Your Life

  1. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Scotland but Christmas is looming with the same thoughts of family. Thank you so much for your wise and loving words. These were just what I needed to read today. Happy Thanksgiving to all from across the ocean! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your honesty and support in your posts. When I found your page I was still dealing with the deepest pains of guilt for the toxic relationship with my mother. I was searching for answers. Why me? Why my mother? This isn’t fair.
    Today, reading this, I find joy in the Lord. I find joy in my amazing stepmom. I find joy in the emotions repairs through prayer, therapy, and the realization that I didn’t cause this. While none of us reading this post asked for our lives, we have the ability to rise from the ashes. God uses all for good and I believe our stories matter.

    Happy Thanksgiving and happy day to all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gratefulness is a state of mind that needs to be exercised every day, especially during the holidays, for healing. Thank you for this post. It gave me a great sense of peace, and let me know I’m heading in the right direction. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, Veronica. Thank you for your wise words about the power of small things. 7 years ago this Thanksgiving was the last time I had contact with my emotionally abusive mother. I am grateful beyond words for the beautiful safe family of choice that I have been able to form since then, yet still sad about what might have been. Blessings to all who read this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We also don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in South Africa, but well said from Scotland and echoed from down south too! Thank you Veronica for this very special post. Gratitude and thanksgiving are so important and healing. Sometimes, especially when there is so much general suffering around (poverty, unemployment, pain), it feels like one should be able to diminish one’s own relatively insignificant personal pain, but you so gently and clearly articulate that this is not what you are saying. Simply that it is important to celebrate and appreciate the ordinary joyful moments, and that there is healing in this. Thank you for creating such a helpful and supportive website – when toxic relationships become more and more unbearable you have shown alternatives that are possible, you have encouraged and supported, and created a community of people with invisible scars who are resilient and surviving and out there. Thank you for you! Thank you also to all who have shared, shone the light on the darkness, lifted the sorrow … onwards together.


  6. Thank you so much!!

    Claudia from Argentina

    Enviado desde Outlook

    ________________________________ De: The Invisible Scar Enviado: jueves, 23 de noviembre de 2017 04:39 p.m. Para: Asunto: [New post] Grateful for the Good in Your Life

    Veronica Jarski | The Invisible Scar posted: “Thanksgiving is not about the turkey or the football game or the parade. It’s not about just how many family members you’ve gathered around your table or how close you can come to looking like the front of a Thanksgiving card. It’s not even about the mout”


  7. Thank you for such an uplifting post. As I write this, I am spending Thanksgiving abroad with my precious adult son. My father has terminal cancer, and doesn’t have much time to live. My mother, the main abuser, is an invalid who is now a victim of elder abuse and neglect by her second husband. I have tried numerous times to help her get the full-time nursing care she needs, but she and her husband resist and continue to live in filth. She has fallen mant times, and he will leave her on the floor for days at a time without seeking help to get her up. I have called the police to conduct welfare checks, and they find her on the floor with a pillow and blanket. Yet my mother
    and her husband swear at my sister and me, call us foul names and have recently told us never to contact them again. In spite of the abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother and my father, i have felt a calling to help them as much as I can at the end of their lives. However, I have now, once and for all, given up all attempts to help my mother. I am greatly relieved but i can’t help but feel sorrow for her suffering. My father wants my help but expresses no thanks even though I must travel across country at considerable expense to help him. The struggle with dealing with the lifetime of abuse and the desire to be a dutiful daughter is exhausting. Some days I experience chest pains from the stress. Eight months ago I divorced my husband of 34 years who is an intimacy anorexic and pornography addict. In spite of the stress of dealing with my parents, I am regaining my physical and emotional health since the divorce. This Thanksgiving I am grateful to God for holding me up and giving me strength to persevere. He deserves all the glory for giving me the guts to leave an emotionally abusive marriage, and I pray I will continue to look to Him for strength for whatever lies ahead. I am so grateful and blessed to have my son, a wonderful counselor, and many precious friends who love and support me. Blessings to all out there who persevere
    Through difficult circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks, yet again, Veronica. I was feeling stressed out until I read this post. The truth is calming. I’m sorry I didn’t read it earlier today. I went to a good friend’s house for today, someone who has heard and been sympathetic toward some of these kinds of topics. I am grateful for her and have told her so, even in spite of the pain of not being around the family I want to be around if things were different. I feel less alone with your words. So thank you to YOU on this day of thanks. It was your website, after a Google search of something I wrote into my journal, that woke me up to so much two and a half years ago. May your future be as bright as the kindness you have brought into the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was so happy when I saw your new post Veronica. Two years ago your wise words – and those of your readers – helped me to be strong enough to walk away from my narcissistic and emotionally abusive father. It took me until the age of 40 to do it, but it was like a huge weight was lifted from me. Things aren’t so easy now, as he has recently gone into a care Home, and I have had to have some contact to help him find the home and to clear out his flat. Does everyone else find it difficult to explain their situation every time someone new comes into the scene? For example, healthcare visitors or social workers. I worry so much about what other people think of me. I constantly worry about what the people at the care Home think. Do they think I’m s terrible daughter because I hardly visit him? Should I tell them the situation? Anyway, I really just wanted to thank you Veronica and thanks to all your readers for the strength you all give me. I feel less alone whenever I read these pages. Love to you all xxx

    Liked by 2 people

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