Max on LadderToday I wake up in gratitude. Not forced, not fabricated. Real, from the source gratitude.

I am grateful that I no longer wake up in fear. Fear of what could happen, what might happen, what has happened, what is happening. Righteous, invalidated fear. Fear of not being good enough, not being accepted for who I am. No more. Thank you.

I am grateful for the space created by my sister and brother-in-law. They support me in ways known and unknown to them.

I am grateful for the old high school friend who reached out on behalf of his daughter. I thank him for reminding me of my youth, and the warmth I’ve shared with friends near and far. I realize that we did crazy things – and we were good kids. Thank you, Steve.

I am grateful that my intestines don’t burn with the fire of 1,000 suns day after day, month after month, and that the flames don’t burst forth through the floodgates that don’t always hold.

I am grateful that I’ve made it here. Some others have not. Some classmates have not. Two of my cousins did not. Rest in peace, Russell and Dara.

I am grateful for The Cranberries, Bruce Springsteen and The Beastie Boys. The Smiths, REM, Patti Smith.

I am grateful for Krusty, who likes to lick plastic and vomits too much. I am grateful for Max, who likes to climb ladders and now only rarely whimpers in his sleep. When he first came into my life, he was about a year old. He had fleas and conjunctivitis that wouldn’t quit and ear mites. He often whimpered in his sleep and I would wake him and comfort him. He didn’t feel better with visualizations (at least as far as I can tell). He felt better by spending time in a safe and loving environment.

I didn’t get here pretending. Getting here took fortitude – and it was a long, arduous journey. I began with raw, unadulterated honesty and grit. I stuck with myself even when others told me I was wrong; that I should change my language and be more positive. It’s my policy to uncompromisingly face my demons as they arise; not to do battle, but to comfort them as I comforted Max; because they are MY demons and they are me. I created a safe and loving environment for myself.

I am grateful that my demons show themselves because that is what creates the opportunities for me to heal. I see that now, and grateful even for that understanding.

This morning I am bursting with gratitude and want to share that. I want you to know, if you struggle in darkness and fear, that you are not alone. I want you to know that you are not the only one. Others have gone before you and some have risen above the darkness, to feel the warmth of the light. You can too. Never give up reaching for the light.