Here’s to hardship.

2 Corinthians 3-5: 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Happy thanksgiving, readers!

Today I spent thanksgiving at a friend’s house. Her husband’s family has a tradition where everyone says one thing they’re grateful for in mini toasts throughout the day, leading up to a “vulnerable” one at the end. While going through these toasts, after the laughs and jokes, making it to the last one- I realized something that I think I’ve always known but hadn’t said out loud.

I’m thankful for difficult times.

My final toast was about these last few months and how unbelievably hard they’ve felt at times. How some days I just wanted to give up, I just wanted the abuse and attempts at controlling my life and reputation to stop, I wanted it to be over and to just be happy again. But now, barely 3 months from the initial breakdown of our relationship, I realized how glad I am that I went through all of that and that I can actually look back and be thankful instead of angry.

I’m thankful for a few reasons.

Bad times help us appreciate the good times even more.

The first comparison that comes to mind is JRTC since I just got back. I was gone for one day shy of a month. No one likes going, and I’m certainly no exception. I was dreading it and being so far removed from everything in the works here. At the time it felt like the longest month of my life. But then….I got back. I was back in Hawaii and it felt like nothing had even changed. I was back with my friends in our hangout spot, planning beach and hiking trips over the weekend, planning a night out on the town with my people- and all the stress and irritation surrounding JRTC that had overtaken a large part of my day was gone and almost seemed as if it never even happened. I appreciated good food more since I hadn’t eaten it in a month. I appreciated my shower, since I hadn’t been able to take one in about 2.5 weeks. I appreciated being able to wear civilian clothes and makeup.

We need bad times to not only see the good, but appreciate it. Of course I always loved good food and hanging out with my friends, but having that small joy “taken away” from me for a while made me enjoy it even more when I got it back.

These last few months have been a “mental JRTC”. The amount of stress I had been dealing with on a daily basis was unreal, in addition to recovering from the psychological effects of abuse (basically re-learning how to think like a normal human), dealing with my unsupportive command, being ostracized because of a situation that was largely out of my hands, and everything that comes with a cheating spouse who is unwilling to help with their own divorce- it was easy for me to have bad days. It was a struggle.

But then just like that….things change. My command decided to have my back. Coworkers stopped talking about me behind my back so much. I started to get used to being “normal” again. Before I knew it- I looked back and realized all that bad was almost nothing but a memory. Nothing but a scratch on the surface of my life.

I learned about myself and altered my outlook.

I’m amazed how much better I feel already. I can look back and see the growth in myself. I can see how bad my situation was without the rose colored glasses of a trauma bond and be truly thankful I escaped without doubts that I didn’t give him enough chances or it wasn’t the right thing to do. I learned how resilient I am and that I can handle a hell of a lot more than I would’ve expected. I can see how truly selfless and amazing my friends are, even when I was blind and ignored their advice. I can appreciate little things: watching a husband and wife cook together while singing “total eclipse of the heart”, and having it be obvious they’re each other’s best friend. Having a perfectly timed conversation with someone I had never met before who shared all of my values, treated me with respect, and encouraged me to hang on and wait on God like they did when they met their spouse. Being told I’m beautiful by a stranger when I’m not wearing any makeup and my hair was still damp from a shower.

Life is full of happy little things if you just look.

Last but not least: as the verse in the beginning states, I’m thankful that God chose me to comfort others going through a similar hard time.

I’ve said it before on this blog, but I’m so thankful that I was given the unique opportunity to help this overlooked group of people. The needs and hurts of others has always weighed on me so being able to help such a looked down on group means a lot to me.

I don’t wish it had never happened. If I could go back and change it, or completely avoid it at all, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t.

Every hurtful word, degrading slur, gaslighting comment that made me doubt myself and second guess, every “other woman”, every lie, every projection, everything…is part of why I am how I am now, and why I refuse to change parts of me that have been here all along.

So today I’m thankful for resilience, hardship, and struggle. May it always make me stronger.

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