I am participating in the UncoSynchro blog, a writing collaborative effort from #Unco14, focusing on subversive themes of faith and life. The theme for November is (Un)Gratitude. This is my first entry for the UncoSynchro blog, and I will participate monthly.
In this season of gratitude and a time in which we give thanks for all the good things in our lives, I think we too often don't acknowledge or hide the not-so-good things in our lives. We focus on all we have and conveniently (for one month at least) forget about all the things that aren't. In an attempt to change the conversation, this post represents my attempt to take stock of all the many things in my life and in the larger world that I am not grateful for. If you don't want to read about this topic and think that I'm being a terrible person or negative Nancy for even mentioning these things, that's fine. I invite you to move on and ignore this post. However, I think there are some of you who could use this and so I write this for all those who don't always want to be told to be grateful for what they have.
I'm Not Grateful: That I will be spending yet another holiday season without a special someone in my life. I mean, really? Again? Why do I seem to suck so much at this one particular aspect of my life? I'm thriving in all other areas of my life so why not this one? Does my special someone even exist? Am I a leper? Am I so completely undesirable that no one could even stand the thought of being with me for longer than two dates? I'm so over this dating game shenanigans. I'd love to just once have a special someone to spend the holidays with. This whole being single during the holidays thing is so over-rated.
I'm Not Grateful: That my dad died when I was 19 years old. He never got to see me become the amazing man I am now. He never got to see me mature or graduate from college. He will never get to be a part of my wedding day (if I do meet someone to marry). He will never meet any kids I someday have. I'm ungrateful that he had to die when I was still too young to really appreciate him fully. I really wish he were still here. I miss having a dad in my life. I miss having that special connection with someone who never let me forget that he loved me. I really wish I could call him up next week and wish him a Happy Thanksgiving. The fact that I can't ever do that again makes me really ungrateful and really angry.
I'm Not Grateful: That I never really knew my grandparents. I was a late in life child and my grandparents were pretty old when I came around and lived on the other end of the country. They all died when I was young. Thus, I never really got to have any type of significant relationship with them. I'm so jealous of my friends who have great relationships with their grandparents and can tell stories of summers spent with them and time spent learning from their wisdom. I never had that. I wish I had. I have almost no memory of any of my grandparents and that makes me very bitter and very ungrateful.
I'm Not Grateful: That there will still be hungry people on the day after Thanksgiving. Despite however many of us spend at least part of our Thanksgiving at a soup kitchen feeding the hungry, there will still be hungry people. Why? Our world produces enough food every single day for every single person on the planet to have more than enough food to eat every single day. So, why are there hungry people then? No one should have to go hungry, not in a world of plenty. I guess I just don't understand why we allow this system to continue. Maybe I'm just being naive but it seems like feeding everyone would benefit everyone. While you consume your pumpkin pie and your fifth piece of turkey this Thanksgiving, remember all those who would love just to have the crumbs off your pie.
I'm Not Grateful: That 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Yes, really, 40% of the youth that are homeless consider themselves part of the LGBTQ alliance. Why isn't this addressed more? Don't get me wrong, it makes me so happy to see more and more states finally allow marriage equality but what about all the other issues that aren't about marriage equality but affect the LGBTQ community? I worked with homeless youth in Chicago. It was hard work. It's what inspired me to go to seminary. It made me angry that any of them were homeless. Let's address this issue NOW. Let's help get these youths off the streets and into some type of permanent housing situations. Let's work to keep them safe, find them jobs and help them with their bills so they can afford to stay off the streets. Most importantly, let's work to enact laws that will protect them from harassment. They deserve that.
I'm Not Grateful: That we still cannot seem to have a real, actual conversation about the horrible state of mental health care in our country. I thought and hoped that the death of Robin Williams might have finally been the impetus we needed to have a dialogue about the terrible state of our mental health care in this country. It doesn't seem to have done anything, though. We need to actually have a conversation and begin the process of doing something to address the very real issue of mental health. I say this as someone who deals with mental illness every day and would love to be able to get some better mental health care for myself and for all the others who need it so desperately. This is an issue that affects all of us and it needs to be addressed.
I'm Not Grateful: That we've had over 70 school shootings since Newtown, CT and yet we can't seem to get any sort of gun legislation passed. Our children are literally dying and yet we don't seem to care enough to do anything about it.
I'm Not Grateful: That we are all expected to be cheery and merry and full of joy during the holidays. Not all of us feel that way about the holidays. Many people dread them. Some just downright hate them. Yet, we are still expected to smile and put on a happy face and be cheerful even when all we want to do is cry and rant. Just let us have our time away from the holly and the jolly. And for the record, I love the holidays but I resent being told that I have to always be happy or jolly during them. Sometimes, I don't want to be and I want that choice to be respected.
I'm Not Grateful: That I spent so many years hiding who I really was from people and not allowing people to know the real me. My life has improved so much in the five years since coming out of the closet. I really wish I'd done it sooner. I feel like I missed out on so much by staying closeted for so long and that my friends didn't get to know the real me.
There's plenty more things that I'm ungrateful for but that seems to be enough for one post. What are some things you're ungrateful for this holiday season?