I do not often publicly share the aspects of my background which truly haunt me because, although the person I am today has been shaped and influenced by those past experiences (in some beneficial and some not-so-beneficial ways), I largely believe I am who I choose to be now, regardless of history and circumstance. For many reasons, which I cannot always bring myself to discuss, the holiday season is and always has been my least favorite time of year. Nevertheless, I am thankful for all I have been given.
My life has changed in unimaginable ways over the past few years, and I sometimes barely recognize the creature who stares back at me in the mirror -- one so physically worn and beaten, yet emotionally and spiritually worlds ahead of where she began. You cannot possibly know the person I used to be or the torturous personal journey and difficult paths I have traveled to arrive at this place of relative peace and joy, as I cannot truly know yours. By the Grace of God only do I survive each day.
I am a strong-willed, independent, driven, opinionated, oftentimes stubborn soul, who rarely seeks comfort or direction, and, as such, I frequently fail to adequately express my gratitude to all of you who have taken the time and put forth the effort to genuinely understand and care for me despite my sadly-lacking virtues. I am overwhelmingly thankful for my friends and family who support and love me through even my worst and most unyielding times; for those in this community and in my groups who generously and freely offer kindness, gentleness, and unconditional understanding; for those who endure my rants and listen to my musings, and who read and share my words when the mood strikes; for those who feel my pain right along with me and see past the hurt and anger spoken in my lowest moments; and for all those who listen, hear, accept, welcome, and truly appreciate my differences, flaws, and shortcomings.
I never forget you, not even for a moment. You are my entire life, everything I value, and I love you with all my heart. Despite everything you may be facing, I wish you peace, offer you my deepest and most heartfelt appreciation, and hope you have the best Thanksgiving possible!