Underneath my yellow skin

Thanksgiving: What I’m Thankful For

First of all, I am not a big fan of holidays. At all. I used to hate them with a passion for many reasons, but my hatred has mitigated over the years. Side note (and, yes, I know I just started the post. Deal): Many of my negative emotions have lightened over the years, and I give credit to taiji and therapy, but mostly taiji. I’ve written tons about that before, however, so moving on. Holidays. I see them as society-dictated enforced family time. That’s fine for people with good families. For those of us with dysfunctional families, holidays can be fraught with drama and hard feelings. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my hatred for holidays has subsided as my relationship with my family has improved. However, I still LOATHE Christmas and how commercialized it is. I also hate how it starts so early. I saw my first Christmas commercial in early November, and there’s a local radio station that plays Christmas music all through December. It seems they’ve already started. It’s also annoying how rabid fundies (read, FOX) bleat about how us dastardly heathens are ruining Christmas by forcing people to say Happy Holidays in stores, and they don’t see the irony in their complaints. They want a secular place that is doing secular business that supports the secular reason for Christmas to say Merry Christmas. Irony is not their strong point, nor is rational thinking.

Anyway, I have problems with Thanksgiving for other reasons, obviously. We can all agree that killing off the native population and giving them small pox is a bad thing, right? RIGHT! In addition, I’m an introvert and don’t like to be around groups of people for an extended period of time. Partly because I’m a weirdo who has very few traditional/mainstream ideas, but mostly because I tend to attract all the sad sacks who want to tell me their sob stories. I’m working on not asking follow-up questions, but it’s like second nature to me. In addition, I don’t always have to ask questions for people to want to pour their guts out to me. I guess there’s something about my demeanor that invites other people to tell me their woes.

Side note: I used to not talk about my opinion ever because I was taught what I thought didn’t matter. Then, in true overcompensation fashion, I started to espouse my opinions all the time. I’m the ‘well, actually’ guy in my brain a lot of the time, and I can get caught up in the nitpicky details when they don’t actually matter. Sometimes they do, but they often don’t. It’s because I’ve lived with unreliable narrators my whole life, so I tend to hold on to ‘facts’ as if they’re talismans against the shifting sands I often find myself on. I’m learning now how to differentiate between opinions and information that should be shared, and ones that I can just keep to myself. I have a few trigger topics like psychology. I hate how people throw terms around that they’ve heard or read but don’t really know what they mean. Ahem.

This year, I’m still not doing anything for Thanksgiving, but I’m not actively dreading it, either. In fact, I forgot it was this week. That might be in part because it’s early this week, but it’s more that it just doesn’t matter to me. All the angst I used to feel about the holiday hasn’t manifested itself this year. I don’t know why, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth.

It got me thinking, however. As much as the intensity of my negativity has diminished over the years, I still tend to be a pessimistic person in general. I will see the cloud around the silver lining, and the glass is permanently half-empty. I have low-key depression all the time, and it’s rare when I actually feel good. I have a fairly nihilistic point of view, and sometimes, I just feel like I’m waiting for my death. That being said, I do have things in my life for which I’m grateful. I rarely talk about them, so I thought I’d take a post and do that for Thanksgiving.

One, I’m grateful for my friends, especially my two besties, Kat and Ian. They have been with me through thick and thin, and I am glad to have them both in my corner. Kat is the yin to my yang, and I can’t imagine my life without her. We’ve supported each other through some tough times, and I’ve never met someone with whom I share so many opinions. When we have arguments, they’re mostly shades of gray in that we both agree on the basic premise. I can tell her things I can’t tell anyone else and vice-versa. I know if I call her up in the middle of the night, telling her I need her, she’d do everything in her power to be here as soon as possible. As for Ian, we met under trying circumstances (for each of us separately), and our friendship has been forged in fire. He’s taught me that it’s OK to argue with someone you love, that it doesn’t mean the end of the friendship. I know he would take a bullet for me, and I would do the same for him.

I’m grateful for taiji and my teacher who is also a good friend. She’s a great teacher as she adapts her style to whomever she’s teaching. She can relate to some of my issues such as being a freak, but she’s a more positive person than I am–which I need. Taiji has done wonders for me despite myself. I’ve been a lazy practitioner, but I’ve grown leaps and bounds since I’ve started. I’ve written about how I’ve found my core, the essence of my personality that I never had before. I have confidence where I used to have none. And, I have an unhealthy love for my weapons. My love affair with my sword is well-documented, and I can’t wait to learn the Dual Sabre so I can be a human Cuisinart. Taiji has improved my health, both mental and physical. I will be eternally grateful for that.

I’m grateful for other friends, such as Sis (not my actual sister), whom I don’t see or talk to that often, but who I still care about. Even if I see her only once a year or so, I think about her and hope she’s doing well. I follow her adventures on Facebook, such as when she took her jackalope to Japan. I’m also grateful for all my Twitter and Facebook peeps who I’ve not met in real life, but whom I care about, nonetheless.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to worry about money. I’m thankful that I can write every day, and the well still hasn’t dried up yet. It’s getting harder to write something I don’t think is crap, but it’s only because I’m so prolific, and I feel as if I’m repeating myself. It’s funny because I hate most of what I write fiction-wise as I’m writing it, but when I go back to it, it’s usually better than I think it is.

I’m very thankful for my cat, Shadow. It’s almost been year since his brother, Raven, has died, and I still think about him every day. I miss him, and I still cry over him from time to time. Shadow does his furry best to be both himself and Raven, and it both gladdens me and breaks my heart. I know Shadow felt it when Raven suddenly disappeared from our lives. I tried to explain to him what had happened, but I’m not really sure he understood. How do you tell a cat that the other cat he’s been around every day of his life is suddenly gone? You don’t. In the first six months after Raven’s death, Shadow clung to me. Before, Shadow was more an independent cat. He liked being in the same room as I was some of the time, but he had no problems with trotting off to be on his own. Raven was the one who usually had to be on me, but Shadow took up the mantle once Raven died. When I would go out back to smoke, Shadow would put his paws up on the glass door and cry until I came back in the house. He would sit on my lap more often than not, and he just refused to let me out of his sight.

Now, he’s still more of a lap cat than he used to be, but he’ll also go hang out somewhere else by himself. While Raven was alive, Shadow didn’t meow much, and he took to doing it more after Raven died. I realized sometime later that Shadow didn’t have to remind me that it was breakfast time or treat time because Raven always did it for him. Once Raven was gone, I think Shadow thought he had to be more proactive about making his needs known. He meows way more than he used to, which is annoying at times, but it also lets me know he’s OK. For the first few months after Raven died, I would randomly poke Shadow if I felt he slept too long because I was afraid he had stopped breathing. I’ve chilled with that, but I will admit to being worried if I don’t see or hear from Shadow in some time.

I’m thankful that I’m mostly over my flu/cold/digestive issues, but I’m worried because I’m starting to get nasal drip again. I’m thankful to Ian that he bought me Nioh so I can obsess over it (and I’ll be writing a post about it really soon). He bought me the PC version so I can play it as it’s meant to be played. I’m thankful that I have a much better relationship with my parents, an I’m extra-grateful that my brother is another person I can count on being in my corner. He and I are as different as night and day, and yet, we get along extremely well. We’ve both grown up in the past ten years, and I would hang out with him even if he weren’t my brother. Not sure I would have said the same thing fifteen years ago.

Lastly, I’m glad that I’ve fought through the bulk of my depression, even if it wasn’t anything active on my part. It’s hard to remember, but I used to be so depressed, I could barely move from the couch. It’s hard to overstate how much better my mental state is now than it was even three years ago. Just the fact that I’m writing this list shows how far I’ve come. I still have a ways to go, but it’s a start.

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