I am thankful that I was able to leave the terrible and repressive aspects of Christian culture that I grew up in, to get out of the suffocatingly small box that it put me in, and to discover my real personality and identity. There is far more good in the world and in the people around me than I ever imagined when I was growing up afraid and isolated. There is far more good in me than I ever realized when I was immersed in a culture of unhealthy standards, guilt, shame, and control.
I am thankful for the good friendships I have today, for the people who accept me the way I am, include me in their lives, drink with me, laugh with me, help me when I'm in trouble, celebrate and commiserate with me, really know how to listen, and trust me enough to share their own stories and needs as well.
I am thankful, although it can be painful, that I am able to distance myself from relationships when necessary. I no longer feel compelled to be a doormat to controlling or manipulative people, to confide in untrustworthy people, to try to please people who look down on me, or to accept unhealthy levels of drama in my life, I know that, as an introvert who grew up isolated, I have limited social energy, so I need to invest it more carefully.
And most of all, I am thankful for these two people:
My husband, who treats me with respect, who loves to give me hugs, who is incredibly intelligent and well-read, who kicks ass at his job, who loves experimenting in the kitchen, and who gets up with our toddler every single night without complaint. Even with the challenges we have encountered, he has exceeded my expectations of what a husband and a marriage could be like, and I feel incredibly lucky that we found each other at exactly the right time in our lives.
My sweet toddler, who also loves to give me hugs, who loves reading books with me, and whose fascination with every vehicle and every animal helps me appreciate the world more. I love that he is cautious, bashful, easy-going, and analytical, yet still squeals with delight over going headfirst down a waterside into a pool. In hindsight, I appreciate the countless hours of cuddling and bonding we have gotten due to his terrible sleeping, although I am definitely anticipating better sleep for everyone in the future. And I have to say, his chubby-cheeked smile is probably the cutest thing in the entire world.