I was flattened for a very long time by a chronic condition. During a number of those years of living with ME/CFS, any talk of gratitude would have filled me with fury.
I wasn't grateful. And the very suggestion that I should be would have sounded to me like my being sick was a good thing, or an insignificant thing. That wasn't really getting in my way, hadn't really altered my life to the point that it no longer resembled a life at all.
It would have felt like my suffering was being negated and discounted in a world that already negated and discounted me daily.
Before I got sick with ME/CFS, I was no stranger to gratitude. In many tough situations I would find and focus on reasons to be grateful, because I knew it was good for me.
But after years of illness and loss, I had no appetite for that anymore. The very idea just seemed grotesque. It looked to me like a form of pretending. And I thought it just made it easier for other people to write off my suffering.
I stayed angry for many years.
Ultimately, it didn't bring me any relief. I was obsessed with the wrong-doings and dismissals that I endured during my worst years. There was so much bad in my life, and it was all I could see.
I had had a habit earlier in my life of downplaying my hurts, of hiding how I felt, so as not to upset other people. That went completely by the wayside, and a few people got shocked more than once and must have wondered who I was.
I think that I had to go through that angry time. I needed to step up and say out loud, "Hey! I don't like this. I'm not accepting this. Don't come here looking for a happy face to make you feel better. No faking here. What you see is the real deal. And it isn't pretty."
I don't know if I would have come through the other side on all that if I had remained so ill. It's entirely possible that my ability to feel, and to cultivate, gratitude came about in part because my circumstances improved.
Over time, things were getting better. I was able to work. I was able to be up and about, drive a car — if only to the next small town — and do some shopping — even if I was only capable for an hour or so at a time.