An Attitude of Gratitude

The last few months I have allowed myself to become so busy that I got caught up in what can be the every day drudgery of life.  Bad me.

However, just over the last few days or week or so I have been more reflective in nature.   As I have (intentionally) gone over some of my life long issues of hurt and woundedness I have realized that in spite of my bad habits and poor choices I have found myself in a place of blessing.

For many years I lead a life of self-indulgence.  I used to have the tendency of compartmentalizing my life.  For instance if I was not deliberately abusing my children then I was a good father.  After all I was better than those fathers.  If I could feed my (former) drug use without actually having to spend money then, of course, using drugs was not a problem.  If I could still hold down a job then there certainly was nothing wrong with drinking two quarts of Jack Daniels a week!  I was good at compartmentalizing.  Or perhaps the more professionally accepted term would be “rationalizing.” 

I ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous for a while.  However, I never did like their “One Day at a Time” philosophy.  To me that was saying that, ” I betcha one day I’m going to fall off the wagon.”   I did do at least two meetings a day for the first ninety days.  Some days I would do three meetings!  I got all the cute little chips and listened to all the stories about why others drank.  It was their spouse’s fault.  The kids drove them nuts.  Their boss didn’t like them.  They were abused as a child.  The wind was blowing.  The lighting was bad.  Their mother didn’t breast feed them but did breast feed their siblings.  And on, and on, and on.   But in fairness to all the story tellers I haven’t been to an AA meeting in a couple of decades or so, so maybe the tone has changed.  But I doubt it.

It’s a wonder I didn’t end up needing treatment for depression!  At first I latched on to the “I have a disease” thing.  After all if I wasn’t responsible then I would have no responsibility for my past actions.  Heck, I just couldn’t help myself.  I mean have you ever heard of anyone blasting a cancer patient for losing their hair?!  I have a disease!  I just can’t help myself!

Man this post is starting to go all  over the place here.

Anyway, I lost a significant portion of my life because of drug abuse, alcohol abuse and mostly too SELF PITTY!!  I’m actually still trying to work through and figure out how it is that I (specifically) came to feel that I always got the short end of the stick!  I can go down the list.

1.  My dad travled out of town 4 or 5 nights a week.  So I basically had an absentee dad.

2.  I was the only boy with 4 sisters.  I did get a brother when I was 13 but for all intense and purposes, poor me was raised in a girl’s dormatory.

3.  Teachers and other adults would (almost) always tell me what beautiful eyelashes I have!  Why the heck would you tell a little boy he has beautiful eyelashes!  That can scar a kid!!

4.  My dad used to just beat the living tar out of me!  I mean BEAT ME!!

5.  My grandfather was an alcoholic.

6.  My father was an alcoholic.

7.  My grandfather was a womanizer.

8.  My father was a womanizer.  Heck he even took me with him one Saturday to visit his girlfriend.  Well he didn’t tell me that’s what we were doing but when we pulled up in his green Plymouth I had to wait out in the car while he went to “visit.”  I can still see her standing on the backdoor stoop holding the screen door open for my dad.  She had blonde hair put up in a bun and had on a pretty tight-fitting yellow dress.

9.   Where the hell did that blonde haired woman in the tight-fitting yellow dress think my mom was?

10.  Don’t hit your sisters.  You don’t know your own strength.  It doesn’t matter that they hit you first.  You’re a boy and they’re a girl.

11.  You have to go to mass on Sunday and on Holy Days of Observation.  Now go get me a beer out of the refrigerator and get the lighter fluid for my lighter.

12.  We don’t have the money for that.  Do you want to ride with me to get some beer.

13.  We don’t have the money for that either.  You can go to the golf course with me if you are quiet.

I doubt my childhood was much different from most of my classmates.  But I sure did like more attention than the other kids.  Any attention really, good  or bad, just please notice me.

ENOUGH!!  My wife and I just celebrated out thirty-sixth wedding anniversary!  Our thirty year old daughter is married to a great guy and they have a five-year old son and a fourteen week old daughter.  Our twenty-six year old daughter (although widowed three years ago) has a great guy who looks at three-year old Cooper as his son and Coop to him as his daddy.  Our twenty-one year old daughter has been in a relationship with a young man she went to highschool with and there is talk of marriage (come day).  Ummm Brindon don’t forget to talk to the father first.  🙂  After much discussion between my wife and I and our three older children we then prayed about what God has in store for us in this season of life.  So in November of 2009 we adopted.  So in addition to the aforementioned daughters we also have an eight year old daughter and a five-year old son!

I am in very good physical health.  I am in good mental health.  I believe my spiritual life is on track.  I have a wife that not only loves me but is also committed to me.  I have five wonderful, happy and healthy children.  I have two very active grandsons and a beautiful little granddaughter.  My peach trees are doing well.  My plum-tree is loaded.  Our vegetable garden is going gangbusters.  We have a fantastic church family.



7 Responses to An Attitude of Gratitude

  1. khway says:

    This was an awesome post. I’m glad I “stumbled” onto it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. amber says:

    Life doesn’t get much better than that. Yeh, you have had struggles, but look where you are now. Great post.

  3. Hayden Tompkins says:

    Michael, I was having wave after wave of deja vu as I read this. My father was very big on the ‘reasons’ he did things. I don’t remember if he ever said it, but there was a very big aura of ‘it’s not my fault’.

    He actually took me to his therapist once to have the therapist tell me, in so many words, that it wasn’t his fault either.

    As you can imagine, that went over really well.

    I think AA does well for a lot of people. It DID help him to stop drinking, and I have met many wonderful people through the program. That being said, it is not for everyone.

    I am thrilled that you’ve found a way that works for you. The family you and your beloved have created, is beautiful and full of joy and caring and deep, abiding love.

  4. Enola says:

    I can really relate to what Hayden wrote. All my life people have made excuses. I think there is some value in understanding the reasons for actions, but there is a fine line between understanding reasons and making excuses.
    Great post.

  5. Joy says:

    *applauding* you Michael. What a great post. I’m so glad you wrote this and I’m also very happy you stumbled into our lives.

  6. marlajayne says:

    Great post! This weekend my sweet husband and I went to New York City to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and we went to see The Lion King. One of my favorite lines is when young Simba (who is lamenting his terrible past) is reminded that he can either run from it or learn from it. Sounds like you’ve done the latter and are living proof that an attitude of gratitude is one of the best things you can have.

  7. Noldy says:

    I’m a friend of Bill and Bob myself – sorry we don’t have what you wanted, but it sounds like you want what you got anyway. Isn’t life good? Bless you.

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