I've been planning on doing a Thanksgiving post for a while now, but I didn't want to do the standard "Things I'm Thankful For" post because while I am incredibly thankful for my friends, family, job, and a million other things, that's really cliche, and I ain't about that life.
So instead, I decided to talk about the hard times this year. Things I've been through that, while they were hard and painful and stressful to go through, I'm thankful for. As someone who's been living with anxiety for 16 years now, I've learned that the hard times teach to you to appreciate the good times even more.
1.Saying goodbye to my dog, Amber
In April, I had to say goodbye to my best friend. She was 16 and a couple of months before had started to go downhill. The day my mom came home and told me she had cancer was the day we said "no more." Amber was a very special dog. She was a rescue and had been severely abused before she came to us and it took her a long time to trust people again. But you know what? She did. This dog, who had probably been kicked and hit and frightened so badly that she bit off a piece of her own tongue, learned to trust and love people again.
So while, yes, I did have to say goodbye to my best friend, who I would've done anything for and who would've done anything for me, I learned that sometimes it's better to let go. The way I see it, she had already been through enough hurt from people that hated her. How could I be any better if I let her suffer when I love her so much? It was an honor to be there when she left this world and surround her with all the love that I had and still have for her.
2. Breaking up with Chris
From the time that I met Chris, I knew that he would be really special in my life. We dated for six months, and in that time he taught me so much about appreciating every second you have with people. Chris has Multiple Sclerosis. I learned this on our fourth date, when I ended up taking him to the ER and sitting with him for eight hours. I was ignorant about what that really meant, so I spent some time researching. MS is scary. It can be fine or it can be awful or it can be somewhere in between. Chris has to inject himself with drugs every Friday. Those drugs leave him feeling tired and weak during the weekend. But he didn't let that stop him. We still hung out, went on walks, saw movies, went to baseball games, and anything else we wanted to do. I really admired Chris for how strong he was during those times. His family and friends meant everything to him, and he would be damned before he let his condition get in the way of that.
But Chris taught me something else too. We broke up at the end of May when I left for the summer because we decided together that it would be best for both of us. We continued to talk and act as if we were dating, however, and everything imploded a month later. Chris had been cheated on multiple times, and although I assured him that I wasn't and would never, he had a hard time believing that. We got into a huge fight (the first and last one we ever had) that ended everything, and we both said some pretty awful things during that fight. Something else was said, too. During that fight, he told me that he loved me. And wouldn't you know it, I loved him too. It was too late for that to matter, of course, but the thing is, I knew that during our relationship. I knew that he loved me, and I knew that I loved him. Yet neither of us said it until it was too late.
So while that fight was awful and terrible, it was a really good lesson in telling people what they mean to you before it's too late. I'm not sure it would've changed how this specific situation turned out, but at least he would've known.
3. Taking a career risk
Over the summer, I did a lot of thinking. I thought about what I wanted out of life and the path I saw myself on, and I decided that maybe what I was doing wasn't what I wanted to be doing. What a terrifying thought after I just graduated from school and spent three and a half years dedicating myself to this art. The head of Theater at Monmouth offered me a marketing internship. The only problem was that I'd already signed a contract with a theater in Florida for the next year. But I didn't want to go. I had a choice to make: break my contract, potentially ruining any future relationship with this theater or go to Florida and be doing something I wasn't sure I wanted for a year.
I agonized over this decision, let me tell you. I talked to my mom, my best friend, my roommates, my TD from college, and pretty much anyone I could to get input and feedback. And eventually, I decided that my future was more important than this one bridge I might be burning. So I broke my contract, and I stayed here. And I regret nothing.
In the words of Robert Frost, "The best way out is always through."
You'll get through the hard times, and, if you're lucky, you'll learn from them. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.