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As we express our gratitude, we ...

Posted Sep 12 2008 4:38pm

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. - John F. Kennedy

I have written a few posts on love being what you DO, but I have been touched by more than a few comments and emails lately from people thanking me for the blog, the website, the classes and the audio files. I always am filled with humility when I am in the position to give even one small ray of hope to one person. I have said in interviews, during speaking engagements and on this blog that the reason I do what I do is because it was done for me. Because this life I have –this wonderful wonderful life–would not be possible without others who helped me during those very bleak and dark days when I was depressed, anxious, borderline suicidal and feeling hopeless. I remember driving down the road and the only way to avoid driving the car into a wall was to keep chanting, as tears streamed down my face, “I am a child of God and God loves me.” Some one gave me that to say when I was sitting in a therapist’s waiting room and my hands were physically shaking. This man, someone I didn’t know and had never met, turned to me and said, “Just remember, you are a child of God and God loves you.” He said it in this sweet and kind voice, almost a whisper, that was incredibly soothing. I wasn’t even sure if it was true or even if there was a God but I held onto it, and I said it like a mantra whenever I didn’t think I could go on another minute.

Another night I was anxious and depressed and was supposed to go to a new support group meeting. I really kept myself sane all day by counting down the minutes until I could go there. Then it was time to go and I drove all over and couldn’t figure out how to get to the building.

It was dark and raining and I couldn’t figure it out. I was getting more and more anxious and upset. I parked my car near a construction site because the construction made it impossible to tell which way to go. I got out and walked through the construction site and up a hill to where I thought I was supposed to be..stumbling and almost falling…but I was crazed when I got into the building.

I walked into a room that seemed full of nice people having a meeting. I assumed this was where I was supposed to be. I sat down and looked up and was sure I had lost my mind. I couldn’t read any of the signs in the room. I thought, no that can’t be right, I thought they were in French. As I looked closer, I thought, MY GOD, they ARE in French. I figured I had gone completely crazy. I just never would have thought that crazy would be in French.

An elderly gentleman turned to me and gently asked if I was in the wrong place.

I felt like I was at the end of my rope…if they made me leave, go back through that construction site, I would not make it. I would hurl myself off a backhoe.

So I smiled meekly and decided I needed to stay here with these nice people, these nice French-speaking people for what was a Sons of Quebec meeting. I would learn French in the next 5 minutes, I would bake cookies, I would get everyone coffee. I would do anything, but I didn’t want to leave.

I smiled weakly said, “No I’m okay.” and tried to wave him off as if I really had come for the Sons of Quebec meeting…trying to look like I belonged. I just wanted to STAY here in this warm room with coffee and cookies and nice happy people…my eyes pleaded “Please don’t make me leave.” He was not, of course, taking that for an answer. He said, “Where do you need to be?” and I had to tell him, what with the open-ended question and all, and he said the place I was looking for was x number of blocks away and he tried to explain how to get there but I was blanking and starting to panic. I just wanted to stay here. I felt incapable of finding where I needed to be.

I must have looked crushed and was on the verge of begging him to let me stay because he said, “If you drive me home afterwards, I’ll take you there.” I would not normally accept this but I had no choice. I felt like my brain was exploding. I didn’t think my mind would last the night and if I wasn’t going to be allowed to become a Son of Quebec, then I needed to find where I was supposed to be.

When he got up to put his coat on and go with me, I noticed he had a cane. I stopped him and explained where my car was and how treacherous a walk it was. He just smiled and said that was okay.

He walked with me back through the construction site where I was sure he would fall down and die and I would be arrested for murder…because that is how the day was going.

But that didn’t happen and believe it or not, he went to the support group meeting with me and smiled the whole time and everyone was lovely to him and he was lovely to them. After years of being with abusive and controlling people, all of this kindness was almost too much for me. This was life…this is how nice and happy people acted. It amazed me.

I took him home afterwards, thanking him profusely the entire time and he kept saying it was no problem. He was just sweet and kind. As he toddled into the building, I could not believe what happened.

Those were just two of the many encounters I had in my first year or so of turning my life around. I talked about motorcycle Billy in the Post breakup Holidays post, who was my dear dear friend for one week of my life, and disappeared and I never saw him again.

My life was full of good people who came to my aid and rescue and touched my life. I found other people who became my support and my allies, but there were others who came to guide me for a minute, a few hours or a week, and then they were gone. This is my way of thanking them, all of them, for being there for me–by being there for others.

I am busy and some days I feel crazed by the busy-ness but I know that if you are grateful you have to live as if you are, and to put yourself in the path of others who may need what you were freely given. Pay it forward or pass it on are not just words. They are actions. Gratitude, like love, is an action. I thank you all for being here. Peace - Susan

Susan J. Elliott 1/5/06

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