This year Thanksgiving comes at a difficult time. I am in the midst of a fairly adolescent, self-centered pity party, which doesn't go very well with the overall spirit of giving thanks. I held off the pity party for as long as I could -- really, I did -- but I am powerless to it now and I just have to let the waves crash over my head until things start looking better again.
It's been a year of shit. I can say in all honesty that right now there is not one single part of my life that is going well. Well, okay, maybe that isn't true. My friendships bring me a lot of comfort, so that is good. I have good friends. All the rest of it -- family, love, work, money, spirituality, art, home, car, health, fitness, blah blah blah, all the rest of it is slowly worsening over time and there are no changes on the horizon.
Part of what brings me to this gridlock is that I am horrifically busy, all the time. So I don't have a lot of time to sit around making plans to make things better, and I can't incorporate a new habit ("Hang out with friends! Go for a walk!") to cheer myself up. Instead I spend all my time trying to catch up on work, and I never quite hit the mark. Things like housekeeping I only do in my downtime, which comes up about once a week. Well, just reprioritize! say the advice columns. But unless I can cut things like "feed the children" and "take a shower," I don't have any room for shifting priorities either.
The biggest difficulty in the midst of this poor-me scenario is that I am losing my faith. This pains me more than anything else, because faith has brought me through so many difficult things in my life. It's like losing a friend. It is losing a friend. I try to pray and talk to God and believe that I will not always be this sad, but then I feel like an idiot for hoping.
I haven't lost faith that God exists. I know God is real. I know it with my bones. What I have lost is the sense that God is benevolent. At so many points this year, he has left gifts on my doorstep, and when I go outside and tear the paper off, it's a steaming mound of dog shit inside. But because it is a gift from God, I have to say thanks. So thanks. Thanks for three layoffs in eight months. Thanks that I can't lose weight no matter what I do. Thanks for a hair-trigger temper that requires me to use all my energy just to avoid screaming on a daily basis. Thanks for multiple health crises. Thanks for loneliness. Thanks for crushing responsibility. Thanks for mounting debt. Thanks for the carrot-on-a-stick of more contract work, held out 60, 90, 120 days in the future. Thanks for medical, dental, and vision insurance when I can't afford the copays. Thanks for the only thing to say being "just hold on for a while longer." Thanks for all the things that I can't talk about here that make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Thanks for dismantling my support system stick by stick until there is nothing left but a few friends who I don't want to overload.
I can say that something good about this year is that I have stopped looking for meaning in my suffering and hard times. I know that there is no meaning in it. It's like roulette. God enjoys watching people twist and turn and strive and suffer and die, and I am just in his focus for some reason right now. Maybe he likes the foot-stamping temper tantrums I have. Maybe he likes seeing my cry and scream whenever I am alone in the car.
I won't stop praying, because about once a week I believe that my life could be better than it is. I feel God's presence in these tiny slivers, like sunlight through venetian blinds, but it disappears as quickly as it arrives, and in between I gather more "challenges" until I can hardly hear his voice anyway. Every month is supposed to be a little better than the one before but instead it just gets a little bit worse. I was holding on for November, but now I'm holding on for April, and by the time I get to February, I am sure I will be holding on for July, or August, or 2056.
I think it's time to just raze the internal landscape until it's burnt stubble, and just start again. Give up all hope, all expectation, all sense that things might be better. Live in the fact that they aren't, and won't be. And find a way to give thanks in the middle of the burnt forest anyway.