On Gratitude and Awareness

Thanksgiving came and went, and I have been thinking hard about writing a gratitude post. Do I have things to be thankful for? Absolutely, my cup brimmeth over and it would have been a veritable Oscar speech. I could fill the pages. Someone told me, “Thankfulness is something that you need to practice everyday, it’s nice to have a holiday for it, but if you don’t practice gratitude everyday, no holiday can help you.” I was just going to say what a wonderful sentiment that was, when she added “and I always tell my kids, there is always someone who has it worse than you.”

And that’s where my smile stopped. I find it rather disgusting to feel good about myself by thinking about others’ misery. Also, by that logic, you can’t ever say anything, since there is always someone who has it worse. The logic can even be debilitating, because if you have to be thankful and not speak up, because others have it worse, how can anything get better?  Effectively, we are silencing those who want to speak up, we call them Debbie Downers and tell them to be grateful. I am totally guilty of this as well, and really, it is a fine line. The trick, I guess is, being grateful for what you have, by not looking at how much worse things could be.

Gratitude, and the tight rope-walk that it is leads me to Awareness. With Dec 1-7 being IBD Awareness Week, I have been thinking about whether I want to do something special- have a giveaway, light up my blog in purple, wear purple, I don’t know. I have a very ambiguous relationship when it comes to the whole awareness business. I am not usually not a wristband wearer, purple anything, and until two months ago, I had never  been in a support group. Wanting to raise awareness puts you in an odd position. How much of your personal life should you share? How do you talk about topics that are usually taboo? And what is awareness anyways? Is it being loud for a week, and then sink into silence? Is it raising money?  Or is it as simple as saying, “hey, of all the curve balls life can throw at you, this is what I am dealing with?” I think what I have come to love about the online IBD community is that it’s people from all walks of life that show up, people with different stories, people with different views on the matter.

And then of course, there are those who try to tell you what to do, what awareness is and what isn’t. Whether you can make jokes about poop or not. Whether you should be honest or whether you are scaring off others. Whether wearing purple is right or wrong.

They are being territorial in cyberspace bullying those whose blogs are less information-filled or those among us who like poop jokes, and love to wear purple for IBD awareness. It bugs me, as I perceive the wealth of perspectives, insights and opinions as a perfect mirror of IBD.  There are so many different forms it can take, so many different treatments and experiences, so why the hell not different blogs, activities, fundraisers? Chances are, I won’t write a sex and IBD entry, but I applaud anyone who does, for example the brave Hattie Gladwell. I also admire health activists, who have made awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis their job. I admire them for doing something I couldn’t do. And I fiercely believe in plurality of opinions, ideas, thoughts and views on life with IBD.

This week, I’ll do a little bit of everything, and I hope it’ll be enough. I’ll donate the average amount of my blog views this week to the CCFA. I’ll share stories that readers may not agree with. I’ll post info, pretty pictures, and maybe I can be convinced to wear purple on Dec 4th.

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4 responses to On Gratitude and Awareness

  1. I couldn’t agree more about the fine line around gratitude. Almost daily I reflect on things I am grateful for. But I also encourage others (and myself) to feel okay with sharing challenges, and truly feeling the impact of those, rather than putting those feelings aside. No matter how much we have to be grateful for, it’s important to recognize where we’re struggling, and vice versa. Thanks for this post!

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  2. Thanks for this post. I also find it odd when people express gratitude by comparing how good they have it in comparison to others, but maybe those are the people who may not think they are worthy of having it so good, and so they can only experience gratitude and express it in such a way? I don’t know. I do know that I’m pretty darn grateful for this big wide internet world and the ability to find our tribe and use our voices as we see fit, and I appreciate your support of a multitude of voices, opinions, and ideas!

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  3. LunaCafe says:

    Thoughtful post, thank you. Gratitude is so simple really. Not gratitude FOR something, just the moment-to-moment realization that we are blessed, regardless of our circumstances, regardless of what our situation looks like to anyone else. This breath, this heart beat, this heartache, this laughter, this love for each precious moment. There’s nothing to compare it to, and yet it connects us to all that is and to each other.

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