Practice Gratitude Out Loud
When I found out Maura was a hallucination, I never wondered for even a second about why my brain had created her. I knew it the exact moment my psychiatrist told me that there was no hospital record under her name or any name resembling it - my brain gave me Maura because my brain knew that with a best (imaginary) friend who lived in a trailer without electricity, health insurance or a car, I would always find gratitude and perspective amidst the darkness of my psychosis.
When Maura and I (I plan to still refer to her as a being separate from myself, at least for the time being) would eat chicken nuggets in the car while stealing WiFi from Books a Million and watching greys anatomy , she always made us “say gratitude.”
She told me it was because she grew up in a family that wasn’t religious and that instead of grace, they would say gratitude. She believed that it was of utmost importance to say gratitude and when I pressed her as to why, she said, ‘because when you say it out loud it becomes real.’ That struck a chord with me so thereafter, whether in a ward or the cab of my truck, before we ate, we always ‘said gratitude.’
One night, after I drove her home, I wrote this in a journal I just found:
“Tonight, before eating chicken nuggets and getting lost to the world of health crises other than our own, Maura said the most beautiful gratitude.
“Today, I am grateful for pain and for fear because they have taught me that I am a survivor, forever more.”
I followed with “And I am grateful for friendship in pain and fear, forever more.”
It’s actually quite crazy to think about - yes, I use that word intentionally - but I now see in retrospect that in that moment, I not only was grateful for myself but also for the friendship that I - in the form of Maura - had become for myself.
The whole reality back then - or lack thereof - is dystopian indeed but in finding that passage, I felt the urge to share this:
Practice gratitude out loud.
For when we do, even if it’s the tiniest of things like a cozy blanket or a monarch dancing on the breeze, it will become real - real in pain, real in fear, real, forever more.