It's after 11, and I can't sleep. It's been awhile since I haven't been able to fall asleep immediately after hitting the pillow. The days have been long and gray here; there's only been 1 sunny day since we moved here at the end of December, and the bleakness of it all makes me constantly tired. I open the blinds every morning and try to sit under the dim light that streams through the cracks as often as I can, but I can't seem to get enough sun. Last Saturday was the only sunny day as I mentioned. I happened to be driving to South Bend alone, and I opened the windows and let the cool breeze hit my cheeks and the warm sun rest gently on my thighs. It felt so good. Too good. I wanted to freeze that moment and live in it all day. I came home, threw on my running gear and headed outside to soak up the last few minutes of sun before it faded away for the week. Tonight, as I sit here typing in the dark, I am grateful for the sun.
Perhaps this should be a gratitude rambling. I feel like whenever life seems down, which I wouldn't actually consider mine at the moment--I'd say my life feels flat--neither up or down--just there, just existing. And whenever life feels like that I think it really helps me to focus on gratitude. So just as I am ever grateful for the sun tonight, I am also thankful for modern medicine. I have been on antidepressants for close to three months now (zoloft, if you were wondering). And although there are serious downsides to taking it (the biggest being an uneasy stomach and crazy night sweats--think changing clothing multiple times a night), it has really improved my quality of life. I don't feel crazy anymore. Before I swallowed my pride and decided to ask my doctor for a prescription, I was really struggling to find solid ground. I'd have a good day every other week or so, but for the most part, I'd just look at Tim and want to cry. I wanted to hide. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed. I ached, but I couldn't explain the ache. My heart just felt broken, and my head felt foggy all the time. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. There were a couple of days I even had real suicidal thoughts; it's embarrassing to just admit that, but it's the truth. I am grateful for good friends who patiently listened to me and urged me to be more proactive about my life. So tonight I am grateful for medicine, especially zoloft, and for it's ability to help me watch my kids play and not feel irritated and it's ability to help soften my hardening heart to my sweet babies that I was honestly starting to resent.
I am grateful for the relationships I have with my kids. I feel so loved all of the time. Even when I am my worst self, I feel loved. I wish you could see the way my kids look at me. It's like their eyes are wide open and hopeful when they look at me and tell me their stories and ask me their questions. I had never noticed how bright their eyes are when they'd speak to me, and perhaps it's because the zoloft is really calming my high-strung spirit or perhaps I'm just growing as a mother, but I am really slowing down and enjoying their childhood. I'm not wishing it away. I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself smiling at the way Birdie hops around the house on her tip toes or the way Timmy tugs at my shirt and smiles out of the corner of his mouth while he nurses or how Elle always speaks with a candid certainty that forces you to stop and listen (and she almost always has her hand on her hip while speaking) or how V lights up when she wakes Birdie from her afternoon nap and reads her books in bed or how Mya's eyes dance when tells me about how the boys at school chase her because they "like" her but she's "not old enough for that kind of thing." I also love to catch glimpses of Mya chasing Blue outside, throwing him his ball or a random stick in the yard. I watch Blue's tail swish back and forth. I'm happy when I see my dog happy; isn't that silly? I am so grateful I'm in a place where I can grow my relationship with my kids.
My relationship with my kids isn't the only one flourishing in our temporary living situation. My relationship with Tim has also been sweeter over the past few weeks. Truth be told, I received some much needed advice in regards to intimacy before leaving Texas, and Tim and I have been testing new waters in our intimate life, and I think just the fact that we are constantly aware of each other on that deep of a level makes the other areas of our relationship seem so much sweeter. I have literally felt my heart swollen with love for the man I married. He amazes me everyday. I could never have known what a treasure I found all those years ago. We hardly knew each other, but we've worked very hard for each other everyday for the last 9+ years, and it's changed who we are, personally and as a couple. I am not who I was back then, but neither is he. We've grown together, even when our thoughts and opinions differ. It's amazing. I feel completely loved by him. And I am grateful for that.
I'm grateful for time. Time expands our view and opens our hearts so they can grow and heal. I often think back on who I was and what I thought or believed 20, 10, or 5 years ago, and I'm astounded by how much I've changed--for better and for worse. But time gives me perspective, and it gives me hope that I'm still becoming whoever it is I am supposed to be.
I am thankful for forgiveness. I have the ability to hold grudges. I can play a mean game of the silent treatment. I've been known to go hours, days, weeks and even months without uttering a word to someone if they've crossed me. But somehow, the idea of forgiveness always seems to seep into the fibers of my heart and without much effort of my own, my heart starts to be receptive to people again. I have learned so much about forgiveness in my adult years. It's never to late to say "I'm sorry." And it's never to late to build relationships. I'm constantly reminded of that scripture that reads, "And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there..." And shouldn't that sociality be one of love, respect, kindness and forgiveness? I sure hope so.
It's after midnight now; I should probably go to bed. But before I go, I am so thankful for this small temporary house that provides us with walls and heat and beds and water and all the other necessities one should need. I'm grateful for Tim's new job; he is so very happy with the change, and his happiness is very important to me. I am so grateful for my best friends in Utah, Texas, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Maryland who constantly think of me. I am grateful for my parents. Hearing my parents' voices makes me feel steady, even when the world feels very much out of control. I'm also thankful for my siblings. I feel 2016 was a good year for our relationships, and I'm anxious to continue strengthening the bond we already have. And just a quick, and perhaps silly-to-you-list of other things that make me happy at the moment: the piano, bandaids, hot water, good pillows, swings, french fries, my exercise routine, hot chocolate, all chocolate (hahaha), a dishwasher, old country music, white noise, and warm jackets.
If, like me, your life feels just a bit flat, I dare you to write about the things that make you happy, and I'd guess it won't feel nearly as flat as it did before you started. At least, that's how it feels for me. Things are looking bright, even if the sky is still as gray as ever.