Gratitude. That was the topic of yesterday’s post on one of my favorite blogs. If they keep this shit up it’s going to change to formerly favorite blog. The article shook me up for some reason. I was reading it with tears running down my cheeks. I know I’m in a bad place right now and I don’t know how to get out of it. I feel like everyone is against me. They’re all convinced I’m the bad guy and Zack is a saint and they are all trying to get him to leave me. Me. The person who has eaten copious amounts of shit, pushed down all my feelings, moved 20 hours closer to my husband’s whore in support of his job, and eaten the damn show lettuce so my husband wouldn’t be alone in eating it.
So let’s get started. Here is what they say about the benefits of having a grateful attitude: These researchers are finding that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.
Well doesn’t that all sound delightful? Sign me up!
And this is what one leading researcher has to say about the effects of gratitude:
1. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions. Research on emotion shows that positive emotions wear off quickly.
He goes on to talk about how we like newness. That explains some of those people who are always wondering if they will ever be happy. By being grateful for whatever it is you keep that feeling of newness alive. He believes it makes you more of a participant in your life instead of a spectator. OK, good to know information.
2. Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret—emotions that can destroy our happiness. There’s… evidence… showing that gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression.
This makes sense: You cannot feel envious and grateful at the same time. They’re incompatible feelings. If you’re grateful, you can’t resent someone for having something that you don’t. Those are very different ways of relating to the world… research… has suggested that people who have high levels of gratitude have low levels of resentment and envy.
I’m not sure I completely agree. I think you can be grateful and envious at the same time. As in I’m grateful I have two healthy children. But I always wanted 4 and it can still sometimes sting when others seem to get pregnant and gestate so easily. I also think it’s very easy to be grateful when you have everything you want.
3. Grateful people are more stress resistant. There’s a number of studies showing that in the face of serious trauma, adversity, and suffering, if people have a grateful disposition, they’ll recover more quickly. … gratitude gives people a perspective from which they can interpret negative life events and help them guard against post-traumatic stress and lasting anxiety.
I believe his belief is bullshit.
4. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth.
Blah, blah, blah. We’re all entwined. People see worth and value in you and so now you do, too. Terrific.
So how do we get to this enlightened stage of constant gratitude for every shit thing that happens? Let’s see what the good doctor has to say about that!
At a time such as this it’s hard to see positive forces when pain and other obstacles are blaring and our fears are welling up inside. When this happens we feel stuck.
The folks at Unstuck.com say that this is a precisely when it’s a good time to be grateful. Not grateful for what has us stuck, but appreciating what doesn’t.
Gratitude helps us see our situation in a way that can lessen panic, and could open up our thinking to new solutions.
… when a crisis strikes, not only will a grateful attitude help – it is essential – and is when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life…
In these instances gratitude will not necessarily come easy, nor naturally, and Emmons believes that it is vital to make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful.
“We don’t have total control over our emotions. We cannot easily will ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy…
But being grateful is a choice, a prevailing attitude that endures and is relatively immune to the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives. When disaster strikes, gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances…”
Oh, ok. So then I’m very thankful my husband cheated on me. I’m thankful his entire family is still in contact with her and act as though she did nothing wrong. I’m thankful his sister begs him to leave me and tells him he deserves so much better. I’m thankful his supposed best friend has been feeding him information about this page, thereby sending him to a psych ward. I’m thankful that after promising my kids a pool in exchange for decimating their lives our yard will remain pristine and pool free. I’m thankful for moving 2000 miles away from all of my friends and activities so that we could be so much closer to his whore. I’m thankful that I no longer have anything like PTA, Bunko, or friends to occupy my time. Gives me so much more time to dwell on my gratefulness for my husband’s affair and his family’s betrayal. Hell, I’m even thankful he’s probably fucking around with her again because at least he’s happy! Oh, and don’t forget, I’m so grateful he threw me under the bus to everyone. He must really be secure in my love for him to be able to completely disregard me and any of my feelings in order to trash me to everyone. Wow! So fucking much to be grateful for!
The article then goes on to talk about remembering the bad. Well I’ve got that one in the bag!
Gratitude may be helpful for those who have experienced infidelity as research indicates that gratitude can help us cope with crisis.
“Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall. There is scientific evidence that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals. The contrast between suffering and redemption serves as the basis for one of my tips for practicing gratitude: remember the bad.
It works this way: Think of the worst times in your life, your sorrows, your losses, your sadness—and then remember that here you are, able to remember them, that you made it through the worst times of your life, you got through the trauma, you got through the trial, you endured the temptation, you survived the bad relationship, you’re making your way out of the dark.
Remember the bad things, then look to see where you are now.
Remembering the bad can help us to appreciate the good.
We know that gratitude enhances happiness, but why? Gratitude maximizes happiness in multiple ways, and one reason is that it helps us reframe memories of unpleasant events in a way that decreases their unpleasant emotional impact. This implies that grateful coping entails looking for positive consequences of negative events. For example, grateful coping might involve seeing how a stressful event has shaped who we are today and has prompted us to reevaluate what is really important in life.”
I am not on board with any of this. I’ve had bad things happen. I remember taking some sort of stress level quiz my freshman year of college. I had several major ones, including 2 friends dying. I don’t look back on that time in my life and think about how it shaped me. I did think to myself, “Wow- I’m stronger than I thought,” once or twice. It was good to know I could endure. But that was then and this is now. I was 17, 18 years old and had my entire life in front of me back then. I’m 45, middle aged. My life is probably half over. I have good longevity genes but I eat a lot of processed crap and drink too much diet Coke.
I can look back on all my miscarriages and say the same thing pretty much. I don’t think about it or how it shaped me. The few thoughts I have on the subject are as follows: I endured. I didn’t let myself get bitter. I tried to handle myself with grace.
But I’m not thankful T and S died. I’m not thankful I went through multiple pregnancy losses. I survived. I did what needed to be done. But I was never grateful for the struggle.
Finally, there are tips to help put all this gratefulness into action. I must learn to “reframe this experience using the language of thankfulness.” Uh huh.
What lessons did the experience teach me?
Um, that my husband is capable of lying to me and cheating on me. That his family condones his whore and her whoreish actions. That his sister wants him to leave me because she thinks he deserves so much better than me. That his best friend is out there stirring up trouble and feeding him information behind my back. That my husband will always throw me under the bus. That he will never take into account my feelings before everyone else’s. There could be more but I think that’s enough for now.
Can I find ways to be thankful for what happened to me now even though I was not at the time it happened?
That would be a big fat no. I suppose I could say at least now I know.
What ability did the experience draw out of me that surprised me?
I’m surprised at how angry I am. I’m surprised that I have finally snapped. I’m surprised I’m no longer willing to give second chances and that I truly want to destroy people. I’m surprised at how completely unforgiving I feel.
How am I now more the person I want to be because of it?
I’m not. I’m not nearly as nice. I’m not willing to overlook all the betrayals to keep the peace. I feel lost and like there is no hope. I don’t want to go on most days. If not for my kids I wouldn’t care if I died tomorrow. I don’t feel like there’s anything left. Death is coming for me and I surrender.
Have my negative feelings about the experience limited or prevented my ability to feel gratitude in the time since it occurred?
I truly don’t know. I think this move has affected me a great deal as well, so not only am I dealing with his affair, which I thought was pretty much behind us, I’m dealing with this upheaval. When I think back on it the timeline was basically this:
May ’13- half hearted, false confession
June ’13- she blocks me, I confront him, he tells me he doesn’t know if he loves me and threatens divorce if I won’t leave it alone
June ’13-August ’13- trying to win my husband back
August ’13- find out while I’ve been trying to win him back he’s been fucking around with the whore all summer. I’m told they really really like each other and that they’ve talked about sex and how much they love each other and how much they want to be together. Also told that while he’s willing to toss me aside he’s not willing to lose his kids.
August ’13- begin to rebuild and repair our marriage
September or October ’13- start hearing rumblings about him going to our new state
October ’13- find out he was planning on marrying the whore
November and December ’13- more talk about our new state
January ’14- job offered
July ’14- we move
December ’14-January ’15- he’s busy throwing me under the bus
In less than a year I’ve found out my husband was cheating on me, lying to me, planning to marry someone else all the while telling others how happy she made him and how miserable I made him, and moved 2000 miles across the country, uprooting my life and my kids’ lives. I’m also now about 20 hours closer to the whore. I’d say that’s a lot of change and upheaval so pardon the fuck out of me if it’s taking me more than a day or two to adjust.
Has the experience removed a personal obstacle that previously prevented me from feeling grateful?
Present Day Sam Says: I would add to that timeline:
February ’15- still busy throwing me under the bus
February ’15-June ’15- dealing with his supposed anxiety attacks, crying spells, and drinking. Made appointments for him, attended therapy sessions with him
June ’15- unbeknownst to me he starts sending Harley money, buys her and her daughter new phones after her husband kicks them off his plan
July ’15- he quits therapy and unbeknownst to me hooks up with Harley
August ’15- I find out he’s having an affair with Harley once again; he cuts off almost all financial aid to me and the kids
September ’15- find out he and Harley are engaged
December ’15- find out he’s been showing her naked pictures of me
February ’16- he moves out of the house and out of the state, quits his job without saying a word
June ’16- resigns his new job and stops sending money
July ’16- kids and I move 600 miles away in with my mom
It’s been a rough three years. Lots of upheaval. Everyone says it will get better. It keeps getting worse.
I’m still having a huge problem with this gratitude thing.