An Attitude of Gratitude – Being Thankful for Thankless Things

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances…”
(from the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 16-18)

Seeing the ‘silver lining’ or the bigger purpose in things is a very powerful tool toward optimism, hope, and having control over your handling of your existence.  Joey on the ITSAN forum has a great quote in her signature – “It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you respond”.  So today I am making a list of some negative things in my life, and why I am actually thankful for them.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dancing in glorious jubilee with having to go through TSW and all this stuff, but if I have to go through it, at least I can appreciate that there may be inherent benefits to things that, on the surface, are pretty thankless.

I’m thankful that TSW and my divorce are happening simultaneously.

These are clearly the two biggest emotional stressors in my life right now, but the same basic tenant applies to handling them.  Do what you have to do to make things as right as you can for yourself.  Try to minimize stresses from them.  Utilize other people for support if needed.  When you feel like you can’t deal with this anymore, just keep living one day at a time, or even one hour at a time.  Always have something small to look forward to in order to get through the day, even if that just means finally going to bed.

The initial shock of having all these trials at once plus a very stressful time with work and school has strengthened my ability of pure, raw perseverance.  Inside there’s a little spark burning that cheers, “I’m doing it!  I’m handling all these things with grace and determination!  I did not give up and I WILL not give up!”  I feel equipped to handle almost any life event that comes my way in the future now because I was plunged into handling so many at once.

And I think the effect of handling both at once is ultimately better than if they were to have happened in succession.  Plus, when I get done with both of them, I’m going to emerge a new and better person, with healed skin and a stronger sense of identity and purpose.

I’m thankful for my itchy, red, oozing, TSW-terrific thighs and groin.

(I know, gross.)  What?!?!  How can I be thankful for that?  Well, if I had to pick a place to have my crazy worst TSW symptoms, this is really the best place.  No one is going to see it.  If I had this crap going on all over my face, you best believe I would be hibernating in a cave like a bear and not coming out for the next year.  This is still horribly annoying and itchy, but I can deal with it.  No close-up pictures of this, sorry, the one I posted before of my thigh was pretty tame.  I know you’re all sorely disappointed.

I’m thankful for winter.

Anyone that really knows me personally will know I’m a vehement winter-hater, so for me to say this is a huge departure from the norm.  Here in the Midwest, winter is hanging on with a vengeance, but this year I’m actually glad for it, as I can stay swaddled in my big sweaters and scarves for a while yet and have most everything covered up until my TSW skin gets better.

I’m thankful for TSW because it increased my school productivity.

I had tons of deadlines and projects especially these last few months with school.  If I hadn’t had TSW, I would be my normal distracted self – able to get work done, but often getting derailed by stuff like exercise, reading, and cleaning.  On days when my skin hurt all over and I didn’t even want to walk from one place to another, at least I could sit still at the computer and work on projects for a while (while of course still itching constantly).  And living with my parents means much less housework – I’m living out of one bedroom instead of being responsible for the upkeep of an entire home, which definitely used to cut into free time and school time.  Speaking of living with parents…..

I’m thankful for living with my parents.

So I guess in a warped way, I must also be thankful for my impending divorce because otherwise I never WOULD have ended up living at my parents.  But living with my parents provides a less-stressful environment for undergoing TSW.  I started my withdrawal in late January while still living with my husband.  It was pretty abysmal – he wasn’t too helpful around the house, I was red all the time and ashamed to let him see me that way, I was dry and itchy so I was absolutely no fun, I just wanted to stay in the house all the time.  He also wasn’t very understanding of my condition, advising me to see a doctor (Hello!–Been there – they’ve been no help) and getting terribly frustrated with all my weird dietary kicks like Elimination and Candida.  In retrospect, he was a piss-poor emotional support for me with TSW, as in non-existent.  (One of the very last days I lived there, the last sincerely tender loving gesture I remember him doing was to crawl into bed next to me as I was dozing off in my red state, hugging me tightly and saying he felt bad for me because “you looked like you were dying”.  Wow, I knew I looked bad, but on my deathbed?  Geez.)  However, in some ways, I don’t blame him, as any spouse or partner would definitely have their moments of getting fed up with everything revolving around the other person’s skin and how they feel.  I get it.  He didn’t have a “normal” wife anymore – he essentially had a patient on his hands who was very sick and needed much more care than he understood or was willing to provide.

So being out of that environment and with my parents seems to be good for TSW.  Certainly I have the minor gripes of living out of 1 bedroom, having to share a bathroom with everyone, not getting to cook whatever I want whenever I want, and feeling stuck in this weird quasi-adult/child state where I’m a grown woman with a full-time job but come home to Mommy and Daddy.  However, the benefits quite outweigh this – I barely have to do any house cleaning, I’m saving money on bills, I’m mostly left to my own devices, they don’t mind in the least that I became a TSW hermit who likes to just stay in the house as much as possible, and most nights I even get a home cooked meal for dinner.  Plus being around my parents is generally calming and soothing – they’re quiet people and are there to be supportive if I need it, but are non-intrusive.  I really can’t thank them enough for all the sacrifices they’ve made to allow me to live back with them again.

I’m thankful for TSW because it enhanced my sheer appreciation for all the beauty in the world.

When I’m covered in rashes, it’s easy to be hyper-focused on all the bad things.  You know how there are stunningly beautiful girls out there in the world that are super obsessed with ONE tiny facet of their appearance, like they think their ears stick out too much or something?  I have so many ‘flaws’ going on that I can’t even be obsessed with one thing anymore, I’ve transcended that whole vanity thing in many ways.  I am what I am; I make no apologies for my shortcomings, in the grand scheme of the universe I’m just a little tiny blip on the horizon, here to live out my days as vibrantly and peacefully as I can.  Life is short and it’s not all about what we look like.  That’s a big part of our self-esteem and it’s easy to get hung up on it, but I try really hard not to.  I need improvement at this, because if I look bad, I feel bad, but I still try.  So if I don’t feel beautiful, I start to revel in the beautiful things I DO notice.  Flowers.  Clouds.  Bright colors.  Luxurious smells.  And I’ve learned, through this experience, to notice the beauty in every person.  Everyone is beautiful!  It’s not just cosmetic!  I don’t care if you’re overweight/depressed/disfigured/whatever and feel terrible about yourself, I will probably notice you have really nice hair/skin/personality/kind heart/whatever… and even if I don’t notice, SOMEONE will.  Some of the most beautiful people are that way because of their actions, not because of their looks.  Remember… “To the world you are one person…but to one person, you are the world!”

Are there “thankless” things in YOUR life that you’ve become thankful for?

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9 thoughts on “An Attitude of Gratitude – Being Thankful for Thankless Things

  1. Amanda says:

    Winter must be a relieving time of year for you, going through TSW. I remember as a kid, I always preferred winter because I could hide. The summer used to depress me because i was too embarrassed to wear short sleeves or shorts. Plus, seeing everyone so happy and carefree in the summer just reinforced my depression.

    I still am in awe of you and everything you’re going through. There is so much being handed to you and you are dealing with it all so gracefully and with optimism. And even if you don’t feel like you’re being optimistic, your optimism here is more than many people could muster up.

    • I hope now you’re able to be more happy and carefree in the summer!! That would be such a rough thing for a kid to want to hide and be depressed. So glad that your eczema pretty much went away as you got older.

      Thank you for those incredibly kind words!! It’s in my nature to be optimistic – for TSW somehow I feel like it will help me heal faster, and even if it doesn’t, it just makes things easier to deal with! I appreciate you 🙂

  2. Good way to look at everything! This is probably an exercise I should do myself…

  3. Andie says:

    What an awesome post! I’ve only just started reading your blogs (this is my first reply) and I have to say, it takes great strength to be so postive after everything you’re going through.

    I’m on the middle of a major flareup (thankfully it is now starting to heal) and I’m currrently in this rut of feeling sorry for myself and wanting to hide away. This post is exactly what I needed, there are so many things to be thankfull for, I just need to stop dwelling on the negatives.

    • Hi Andie!! Thank you for visiting and thank you for such nice feedback 🙂 It is so easy to mope and hide and I’ve done my share of it, but thinking of things in this way makes them much easier to bear. How long have you been going through TSW?? Wishing you continued healing!

      • Andie says:

        Thanks 🙂
        I haven’t tried completly stopping steriod creams but I am trying to give my self a break from them after 2 weeks of continous use. I don’t think I could ever give them up completely!!! I might need read up on it though ….

  4. What a beautiful woman you are! I think that it’s wonderful that you’re able to see that bright side of life’s obstacles. I yet have to transcend to acceptance and optimism, but I think that your uplifting spirit is just what I needed. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Thank you Leizel for your very kind words! And I admire YOUR fighting spirit with being a “warrior” for TSW with all of the awareness you’re raising on the forum and other websites!

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