Most of us have heard of a gratitude journal. Some of us even write in one. And as I consider the 10 things I'm grateful for today, I find myself reminiscing. Remembering the stuff that wouldn't usually make the list of things to be thankful for.
But in truth, I am grateful for the stuff that happened to me as a child. A "reverse gratitude" list, if you will. Here are my top 3 and why:
1. I'm grateful that I was physically and emotionally abused by both parents. I know that sounds absurd, but it's true. If I hadn't endured at the hands of both parents, I wouldn't be able to empathize with and help others who have been through something similar. I wouldn't understand on such a profound level how a mother, not just a father, can be so severely abusive. The abuse I endured was a training ground for what I would choose to do as my life's work. Indeed, it is the reason that I do what I do.
Plus, I came to realize that physical discipline has too many adverse side effects. All of which made me an opponent to such discipline of children.
2. I'm grateful that I witnessed domestic violence growing up. No, I didn't enjoy it. Nor did I appreciate it at the time. I was terrified! For me, my siblings and my mother. So why am I grateful? Because witnessing such violence awoke in me a deep-seeded desire to protect. Witnessing what I did added a staunch determination to my already highly developed maternal instincts. And I tap into those instincts each and every day when I work with clients and others who seek my help.
I also set the bar so much higher than my mother did when it came to finding someone to share my life with. I knew what I didn't want and what I wouldn't settle for.
3. I'm grateful that I was bullied in school and had difficulty making friends. I don't condone bullying at all. The effects are severe and can be life-long. But if I hadn't been bullied I wouldn't have the first-hand experience to share with others who have been or are being bullied. I wouldn't have the credibility.
There are more. But I don't want to turn this post into a manuscript. Child abuse, domestic violence and bullying...having endured these terrible experiences in my life helped me become the compassionate person I am today.
I don't wish any of what I went through on anyone. I've simply given up the hope, even the idea, that any of it could now be any different. I have surrendered to the fact that these awful experiences happened in my life for a greater purpose.
I choose to see the benefit all of it brought to my life and how I can be of service to others as a result. I've not only gotten to a place of forgiveness...I've come to a place of forgiveness forgone. I see the grander purpose in all of it, so I no longer feel the need to forgive. Rather, I see the value in all I endured.
Can you find the benefit in the adversity you endured?