When I was growing up, I looked forward to Thanksgiving for the food. That’s it. It wasn’t about the family coming together. It was the pumpkin bread my mother made or the huge turkey drumstick I got to wield like a hammer as I gnawed on the flesh. Pretty normal for a kid. During my eating disorder years, I was filled with dread on Thanksgiving worrying that family and friends were judging me for how much food was on my plate. Seriously, that was the all-consuming thought. Turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes were ladled heavily with anxiety. I needed to have the “right amount” of food on my plate to please everyone around me and earn their love for it. Perfectionism, people pleasing, and anxiety suck. Just saying. It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s that Thanksgiving become something to look forward to.
As in many homes, our family’s tradition is to go around the table and share something we are thankful for. I used to try to be dig deep into my soul to identify my gratitude. I mean I was looking for that deep-down personal stuff, something that was totally unique to me. I wanted my “thanks” to move people and evoke something in others. Just as I wanted to please others with having the “right amount” on my plate, I wanted to have the “right” words to share. Perfectionism is still something I want to work on.
So, though it may be cliché and perhaps even a little sappy, here are some things I’m thankful for in no particular order.
- My son asking me to help him shave this month for the first time.
- My wife learning how to argue with me and call me on my … (you know what).
- Though my mom is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she is still here and still giving good hugs.
- Finding a killer location for our new Baltimore facility!
- Playing music with some of the most talented musicians in Baltimore this year.
- Smokey for putting out all those fires – you know who you are.
- My father’s laugh, still one of my all-time favorites.
- YouTube for teaching me better cooking techniques.
- Staff who care as much as they do about healing those with mental and physical illness.
- Audiobooks, or I don’t know how I’d survive my two-hour commute to DC and Virginia.
- My inversion table – nothing feels better than spinal decompression at the end of the day.
- Top down Jeep-ing, because life without a convertible makes me sad.
- Childhood friends becoming mid-life adult friends.
- Teams of people who help make the work I do a success.
This was actually harder than it looked. It takes a bit of energy to come up with more than a handful of things to truly be thankful for. And it’s a worthy exercise. I’ll just add two more.
Thank you to all those who follow me and the folks at The Body Image Therapy Center, and for all your support.
And thank you to my step-sister for hosting Thanksgiving every year … and not making me clean it all up.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, CEO at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 877-674-2843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.