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Transforming Resentment into Gratitude

Developing one's authentic self means transforming resentment into gratitude.

"Most of what we do from childhood on is reacting to what happens to us."

David Shiff

I had to hide all feelings growing up, because showing emotion in our unstable family wasn't a safe thing to do. The built up stress of trauma affected all areas of my life. I resented not having the courage to counter my family's racist comments, constant griping and criticisms of all that I did.

Like the time one of Grandpa's pigs got loose and he called me and my brother to help him. As the pig ran past me, Grandpa yelled, "Catch it!" That pig was at least as big as I was and running for its freedom, and I was not about to get in its way. Grandpa swore at me, calling me filthy names. I wasn't allowed to sass, but I sure did it in my head. Still, I felt that I was less than human, unlovable.

As an adult, I felt resentment over my daughter's autism because I it wasn't the life I wanted. What I wanted was a normal life, unlike the kind I experienced as a child. I compared my life to the lives of others, and found it lacking. I resented their smugness as they glowed on about their neurotypical kids. I resented the descriptions of the trips they went on over Spring break, while I had stayed at home, unable to go anywhere because my daughter would pull other children's hair (out!) if she got a chance.

It felt like I'd been thrown into the world of the "other," the mom with the perpetually screaming kid. I resented the nights I'd wake up to find myself running down the hall to my daughter's screaming cries, and the groggy days following sleepless nights when I could not get a step ahead of my daughter, but could only follow after her and clean up the messes she made. Pouring half and half into the dining room carpet, emptying out a box of cereal on the floor, throwing anything and everything down the laundry chute.

To become free, I throw away what's holding me back. I'm no longer a victim; I choose what I want and don't want. Not being a victim means not blaming anyone or anything for events in my life. And not thinking I deserve anything because of all I have gone through. Believe me, that is a slippery slope.

As I become more fully myself, I find that I am interested in lots of subjects, practice self care, gie myself permission to be the artist I have always wanted to be. Meditation helps me pause before I respond or react, and I gain awareness. When I feel - "Oh, I don't like that, I don't want to do that or talk about it" - that is called contempt before investigating. Self awareness leads to contentment.

Gratitude evolves from radical acceptance of the parts of life we really don't want. they have something to show is, and we can learn how to move forward by simply being in the moment, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

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