How I Found Gratitude After a Severe Foot Injury
Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced suicidal thoughts, sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741 and the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
It is borderline grotesque: toes that flop without purpose and ugly scars that leave my sandal collection to gather dust.
Yet, I am thankful I can walk and my life wasn’t more complicated by this injury. At one time, a complete foot amputation was bantered about. A small wound became infected although I maintain excellent hygiene. That infection spread throughout several bones and had to be halted before it spread to a life-threatening condition. Surgery took several bones and I am on a self-infused, powerful antibiotic regime.
I have always been a negative type. My glass was half empty and bouts of self-pity and depression colored my formative years. Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from a childhood molestation, and the ensuing secretive years, found me anxious, self-absorbed and bitter.
Eventually coming forth with that event in a therapist’s office, I began a journey down a rocky pathway that forked much too often for my psyche. Divorced, addicted and harboring a slew of psychological symptoms, I seemed to consistently choose the wrong direction. Should I allow the professional to medicate me? (I didn’t for a period of years.) Was attending Alcoholics Anonymous necessary? (Again, I delayed.) And, was sharing my woes a means to purging pain? (Alas, you know I also ran from that means to an end.)
And so, I looked at the world, my world, as a place of distrust and struggling. “Stop the world, I want to get off” was my middle name. I attempted suicide on occasion and self-harmed on others. Gratitude was a word without definition.
I returned to my Catholic upbringing and found some solace. My ex and I raised an awesome person and I made intimate friendships. I saw my therapist regularly and became fascinated by psychology. Perhaps I actually could laugh and get out of bed some mornings with feelings other than dread.
The infection reared its head about a year ago. A myriad of antibiotics were tried without success as this bacterium was particularly virulent. “Oh great, another cross to bear,” I complained to my counselor. “Why me? I’m a kind person. I don’t kick puppies. I pay my taxes and I thank cashiers. What have I done to deserve this?”
“I’d like you to write a daily gratitude list,” she instructed. “Choose three things, however small, that made your day pleasant. If your day was comprised of 10 events, focus on the positive ones and disarm the others.”
With nothing to lose, I began. Seeing a red cardinal out my window, cuddling with my cat and getting a phone call from a long-lost friend were journaled early on. Being rather intelligent, having a sense of humor and writing fairly well were the stages that formed.
I continue to keep that gratitude list and I’m pleased it has evolved to more profound experiences. Being a giver, not a taker, making a difference in my passion for animal welfare and having a healthy relationship with my grown son are examples of my maturity. I am growing. I am learning. Most importantly, I am seeing that my life isn’t so bad and I look forward to the years ahead.
My right foot event seems to be another catalyst as I accept my lot in life. Everyone has issues and I see that mine are tolerable now.
I am grateful.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
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Thinkstock photo via Wavebreakmedia.