I have a bunch of friends, mostly online but there some friends that I once knew offline when I lived in London, but maintain contact with them online only these days.
Quite a few of these friends are new age, hippies, gothic, artistic or writers of some description or another and at least two thirds are part of the LGBTQ community – nearly half of which believe in doing one thing regularly;
Being grateful or finding gratitude in things, no matter how hard they might be.
This is something I have never really thought about for myself.
Ungrateful cow, eh?
But some of my friends are encouraging me to become grateful even for the hard times, because it will result in healing old wounds.
They have claimed it has helped them somewhat.
Becoming more self-reflective is key to understanding the pains and turmoil’s of the past, so you can then sweep the negative space clear and put in a positive vibe via gratitude.
Nobody has ever really taught me to be grateful, not in the way I have always tried to encourage Henry to be.
It’s funny that – how I’ve always made a point in ensuring Henry is always grateful for what he has, yet I never practised what I preached there for myself. Well, to tell the truth, I am grateful for what I have now, even though it is much less than what is comfortable and much less than what I used to have – but I am grateful I am not in a worse situation than this, I’ve always have been.
I am very grateful for living in a country that cares for its poor and sick like they do, I am very grateful not to be a situation of many other people in the world.
I am also grateful for no longer being in situations I used to be or having certain people in my life anymore.
But that’s just generalising and in order to do this properly I shouldn’t generalise, I should be more in depth about what I am grateful for.
Things from my past;
I am grateful that although my mother wasn’t the best, she at least had one personality trait which stopped her being much worse than she was – that is the fear of what others thought of her. This always held her back from doing the things she really wanted to do to me, because she would often tell me exactly how she felt, but how she wouldn’t do it, because of so and so.
But she was still who she was, despite this. Imagine if she was more self-assured, what my life could have been like if she had been more confident to be herself.
I am grateful for the situations my family put me into, living amongst addicts and drunks and domestic abuse temporarily and then moving me onto more stable homes, so I learned to appreciate what my true home life was like in comparison!
I think that’s why my mother did that – move me around a lot to different people for weeks on end, to show me, that in the scheme of things – or in the scheme of what is available in the family, our house was a haven in comparison.
Even if it was a prison, it was quieter, more predictable and physically safe if you did what you were told. In some of the other homes I spent time in, it didn’t matter if you were good as gold, if they were inclined to hurt you, they’d hurt you!
I was always grateful for how clean, organised and fresh the main house was in comparison to some places I was sent to live, where their houses were infested with rats and beds weren’t made, they had no bottom sheets and in the winter in order to keep warm you had to snuggle up with the kids you shared the bed with and the dogs just to keep warm!
It’s funny looking back at how those places were actually considered my happy places, my favourite places to go to, to get away from mum. The people were nice, but poor, much poorer than Paul and I – this is something to be grateful for. I don’t have to scrounge around at neighbour houses begging for 50p for the electric metre like the mother of the house did and then go to her dad’s house to get them fed, because her husband drank away the food money for her and her 5 children and an extra to boot!
It’s one of the reasons why I am tired of sausage and beans, it was a staple there. My mum tried to teach me to be grateful by showing me we are much better off, because we would also have sausages and beans, but with chips and fried eggs and buttered bread and double portions to them around twice a week on average. Good living, she thought, though she could afford more, it was laziness more than anything when she was home cooking.
This is why from the age of 7yrs, she insisted I would be the main cook of the house as she had night shifts to do and couldn’t spend the time to cook for everyone, so left it to me – because it’s normal I her family that the eldest or only daughters are fully domestic by 7yrs old and can take a mothers place at the drop of a hat.
I learned by 9yrs old, there is one thing you should never do as cook of the house and that is ask dad what he fancies for dinner as it will almost always be steak and chips, pie and chips, fish and chips or a full English breakfast!
By the time I was 11yrs old I learned lots of recipes from other relatives and I diversified our diet a lot, mum pushed against it for a while, until she learned that some of the food I was making was actually nice. She never had a Bolognese before I was 11 and it became one of her most favourite meals of all time ever since!
As time went on the diet got healthier, for them.
I am very grateful for the freedom I had in choosing what I cooked in my main home.
Always had compliments throughout all the family over the years about being “the proper little housewife”, someone who didn’t laze around, always willing to help, someone reliable and dependable.
It’s why it’s hard being here now, where I feel like I am not needed by anyone and if anything in the way! Its poles apart from the life I used to have, where I’d skip from relative to relative, living with them temporarily and cleaning and cooking for them.
Everyone was happy to have Tina over for any length of time, I was a treat for them, I even remember my mum setting up rota system, and it was almost like a bidding war to get me to stay with them at times!
My maternal grandmother, Uncle John, honorary aunties Gina and Anna (which turned out to be distant cousins), Cousin Jenny and neighbour Debs, honorary granny Esme, got me the most though! Seems a lot of people but actually weren’t a lot to me. Mum wouldn’t let me stay anywhere more than six weeks in case I bonded too much!
I am grateful that I had that kind of life, shifting from person to person, it made me broadminded and adaptable, it also taught me how to change like a chameleon – I suppose it taught me acting skills. Because each household was different, some were really poor and I mean this in the best possible way – but common, others were posh, others middle row and you had to adapt your behaviour and speech to where in the country you were going and the class of people you are going to socialise with the most at the time.
It really was adapt or die, or at least have a hard life there!
This even meant my religion had to change to whom I stayed with as many of these people went to church, the cathedral, the JW meetings and so forth.
I remember going to stay with some relatives where egg and chips is a luxury, you wear jog suits and hoodies, you have to be into RNB and rap and you have to play console games and learn how to talk about football. If you didn’t you didn’t get to have friends, you were ignored in the corner as the weird posh girl.
I also remember going to other places where I have to groom horses and talk about horse racing, horse breeding, dog shows, dog breeding, gardening and sitting in watching cousins learn gymnastics and ballet – I wanted to join in but my mum wouldn’t give my relatives the money for me to participate. Do you have any idea how humiliating it is seeing your thin beautiful cousins doing all that, whilst you are the fat girl sitting on a bench watching grumpily whilst the tutor tries to talk you into making your mother part with cash so I can join in for the benefit of my health and being told umpteen times at the age of 9yrs old that I am responsible for my weight, not my mother?
It’s really humiliating actually!
Just as embarrassing is being the only fat person in a household of half-starved poor kids, especially as I was the most vocal about being so hungry all the time! I feel bad for them now, back then I was very selfish upon reflection and didn’t have much empathy for them, I was entitled I guess.
I sometimes wonder if the universe is cruel enough to punish people for their lack of insight as children when they are much older… like living here in poverty like this with Paul is some kind of karmic debt?
But I was never mean or rude about it; I was just self-absorbed that’s all – I mean, isn’t every child?
I know I was ungrateful back then for a lot of the kindness I got. I remember thinking sometimes that their dog ate more than we did in some of those homes.
I even remember saying this once half-jokingly and the mother said, we have to feed the dog he works! The dog belonged to her husband who was a security guard and the dog went to work with him every night!
It’s a funny contrast too, when you are with the richer families who are super posh and they seem more self-absorbed than you – but on Sundays they go to do charity work as a family at soup kitchens etc. and you tag along to help them.
You try to tell these people, you know the soup they need should contain noodles, meat chunks or vegetable chunks, not be pureed within an inch of its life, it’s not filling. They look at you and rightfully challenge “what would you know”? Because they didn’t think I had other lives with other people who were like the people they were helping, they thought I was like them and they didn’t know any better!
I remember telling them once about what I have experienced, they laughed raucously and told my mother about the funny little stories I make up and how I definitely will be a writer some day!
Mum never told them the truth, just laughed along with them agreeing!
I will always be grateful for whatever food or shelter I get, whatever warmth I get, whatever attention I get and whatever help I get. My life has taught me never to take anything for granted, because you never know how long it will all last.
You can be the richest person ever and lose it all over night due to a storm or a thief or anything, but you can also be a pauper and strike it lucky and find your feet and soar. I’ve seen it happen to the best and worst of people – I am grateful for having such an enriched life full of varied experiences, no matter how painful they were.
I learned a lot.
I have learned what I am comfortable with and what I am not comfortable with and the types of people that make it better for me in the long run.
I’ll admit I prefer the comfort and mindlessness of buying a whole bowl of fruit without pinching the pennies, I would love to go back to the place where the idea of choosing blueberries or pomegranates this week is laughable, just stick them both in the trolley, don’t be silly, we’re not that bad off!
Of course, anyone would!
I remember spending £25 a week on just a handful of different magazines, £50 a week on take outs, £20 a week in lunch money, £20 a week in bingo with gran and anything up to £75 a week on books and clothes – this is a dream these days! Those days died out for me fourteen years ago!
I can’t buy any magazines anymore, not even once a month. Take outs never more than £14 once a month if we can afford it or cut back on other things for the treat, we can’t spend money on the lottery anymore let alone bingo – £40 is our average food bill for the whole household and there is nothing spare for books and clothes, clothing money goes to creditors through catalogues if we’re desperate.
I suppose I should be grateful buying things on credit is an option, especially as there are rumours the government wants to ban those sorts of enterprises.
Thanks for reading…