Chad Grayson

Gratitude and Grace

Woman standing on cliff near body of water photo credit Matthew Vergara

The other morning, I was awash in gratitude. Gratitude for my life, and the people who are in it. Grateful for my two jobs. Grateful that I have a home that I love. Grateful that my body is healthy.

I have not always felt this way.  I spent a lot of years at war with myself, hating myself, hating all of the things that I was and resenting all of the things that I could not be. I wanted to be straight so badly. I prayed about it a great deal, and those prayers went unanswered, despite my piety and devotion. And to be honest, that really shook my faith.

But now I realize there was another path open to me, the path of authenticity. I could not choose to be straight, because that was not who I was. That was not who I was meant to be. In the past, if they had found a cure for being gay, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. But not anymore. It is a part of who I am. It does not make me a lesser person, no matter what some people (many of whom are related to me) seem to think.

I also would not choose to take a permanent cure for my adhd. It complicates my life, but it also informs it. It gives me a different perspective. It lets me look at 1000 things at once and form a coherent picture that includes all of it. That is a gift.

Yes, I take Adderall, but that is not a cure. It doesn’t change the way my brain functions, it’s more like it gives me a scaffolding to hang my perceptions on. It lets me choose to focus on one thing at a time, but it doesn’t make me a different person. It’s like giving crutches to someone with a broken leg. It doesn’t heal the leg, it just allows the person to walk. Adderall allows my brain to pick one direction to move in. Without it, I spin around in a circle. (Ok this metaphor got away from me, but you see my point). I still see what I see. I still notice what I notice.

As far as my bipolar disorder goes, this I would accept a cure for. I have been remarkably stable for the past three years, but it would be nice to have a good mood come upon me and not have to think ‘Oh Shit! Is this a manic episode?’ But I think my bipolar is the part of me that feels things intensely, and I’m not certain I would say goodbye to that part of myself completely. The part that makes me completely lose my shit when I am stressed and angry? Throw that into the sun as soon as possible. But I don’t want to give up my strong responses to things. The mood stabilizers I am on keep my reactivity from being overwhelming, but they don’t always work. I am still basically a reactive person. That, I would change.

Meditation is helping. It’s helping me maintain my equanimity in difficult moments, but this remains a work in progress.

The truth is, I like who I have become. I am at peace with myself. If you’ve never been at war with yourself, you can’t understand how exhausting it can be. This is the reason I’ve been able to be so productive lately – I have the metal energy for it.

This is not true for everybody. Some people are motivated by this kind of struggle, and use it to spur themselves on, but for me, my creativity is enhanced by a sense of peace, not destroyed by it. So, these days I am feeling grateful for everything I have in my life, everything that has been given to me by circumstance, and all of the things that I have created for myself.  

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