Gratitude? You Gotta be Kidding!!!!

There is an entry on the fall equinox at

and one on the super moon eclipse at

I belong to an e-mail survivor support group and one of the members started posting one thing a day that she was grateful for. She also said anybody else could do so if they wanted to.

My first reaction was, “Me? She has to be kidding!! What do I have to be grateful for? They tortured me, prostituted me, and sold me for porn films. They ruined my whole life!!!!! I still suffer from what they did to me!!!! And I am supposed to be grateful??? Gimme a break!!!!!”

I went about my daily life, got showered and dressed, fed the cats, and had breakfast, still fuming and grumbling bitterly. After a while the routine calmed me down enough that it occurred to me that I was over-reacting. Back and white thinking it surely was. Although I had plenty to be ungrateful for, I also had plenty to be very grateful for. My kids who turned out great, my kitties, sunlight and fog, occasional beautiful rain, my faithful thirteen-year-old car, enough to eat, a roof over my head, a garden, no dementia. Most important of all, having escaped from the cult. And the wonderful people I have met in the survivors’ community.

The trigger, obviously, was my friend’s post about gratitude. Now what was the event that caused all those strong feelings?

An image of me as a child siting alone at the dining room table with tomato slices in front of her appeared before my eyes. I had protested that I couldn’t eat them and was told that I would sit there until I finished all of them. They really revolted me because, although I wasn’t aware of the connection at the time, they reminded me of blood and flesh. Sometimes I choked the food down;  other times, I couldn’t and it reappeared at breakfast.

Now here is the connection. I was told I was very ungrateful and I should “think of the starving Armenians.” This was during World War II. They used that phrase often to guilt trip me. It just enraged me. I would have happily done something for the Armenians if I could have, but I was helpless. Armenians had nothing to do with being served food I found revolting.

(As an aside, I have always been drawn to Armenians. I have had quite a few Armenian friends. Their churches are gorgeous and so are their Masses. I love Armenian food and cook it pretty well, if I do say so myself.)

Should I be grateful or ungrateful? You can’t equate the two, you can’t weigh and compare them. One case of maltreatment as a child cannot be wiped out by a lovely event in the present, no matter what it is. A loving mother-figure can’t make up for an ineffective or abusive real mother. Each event, each person, is unique and incomparable.

So I have a lot to resent and my job is to accept the evil in my past and live with it in such a way that it does not take over every minute of the day. And I have a lot to cherish and my job is to accept the good and the beautiful and use them to enhance my life, and others’, too.

My friend had the right idea in sharing with us the good and true and real parts of herself and her life.

11 thoughts on “Gratitude? You Gotta be Kidding!!!!

  1. Hi jean
    I have so much to learn about how this abuse has affected me I wonder if I will ever feel normal. My abuser provided their own dates along with regular ritualistic calender’s to program me. I don’t feel gratitude and I wonder how long I will live with this stress of knowing that these people could care less about life. I feel as grateful as im allowed at this time
    thank you for your entry


    1. That’s a huge amount of bad days to contend with!!!

      I’ve been working on this for at least 25 years — I forget exactly. I don’t feel “normal,” in the sense of being like most other people. I do feel normal – for me. I do pretty much what I like and I have learned to cope with the holidays — or hellidays as a friend calls them. I feel like I live with my past in a different way than before. It doesn’t run my whole life. Life is better and more satisfying than it ever has been. I never would have imagined this when I was gong through 24/7 flashbacks.


  2. Hi Jean, this really made me think. I would’ve reacted just as you did, but the more I read your post, the more I realised that there IS a lot to feel grateful for. I can see how it might help change some of the over-negative thinking. Great post, hope you’re well.


    1. Yeah, I find there is lots of good stuff, but I have to dig through the crap to find it. As I type, for instance, there is a warm purring cat standing on my lap getting ready to type. I love him dearly, but he is a lousy typist.

      I’m doing well, thanks. This promises to be a low pain day. And you?


  3. This is a very Bad Month filled with a lot of Bad Dates.
    And we are a Targeted Individual too !
    When will it finally be enuf !?
    Today is so Bad. If only the torture would finally stop.
    Maybe tomorrow will be better.Trying to find Hope.
    from Fairlight


    1. I am so sorry to hear this, my friend. I can’t say it will be better next month, what with Halloween, but maybe it will let up a bit. And it is not fair that you are being targeted on top of everything.


  4. Dear Jean,
    We were forced to eat stuff we found nauseating also.
    Esp rare steak – UGH ! we do not ever eat steak. and not most beef and NEVER anything rare.
    For the same reason you wrote :- (
    How could they do that to yous ! To us ! Little children !
    I cannot comprehend. We do not want to comprehend.
    Sad Fairlight


  5. I agree with you that the warmth of a friend in the present will never wipe out the pain of abuse in the past. But I think I agree with the member of your support group that posting or at least explicitly recognizing what you are grateful for is a helpful thing. It helps me stay grounded in the present, and helps to prevent the pain of the past from sucking all the joy away from the present. Thanks for sharing this – it’s one more good reminder.


  6. I really love this entry, Jean. I too am grateful and I belong to a 5-a-Day Gratitude list in which we daily list 5 things we are grateful for… it is transformative. I can say that I see more beauty in the world than I did 10 years ago, and my life has become full of joyful moments. I am grateful for you for putting this message out to other survivors. I am grateful for a warm and comfortable place to sleep, and I’m grateful for the many friends who love and support me. Thank you Jean…


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