Today I’m Thankful for Fucking Up

My family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving — not for any reason other than we just never made it a thing (my parents never believed in North American holidays lol). Because of that I’ve always saved my annual reflections for the end of the year, but this weekend I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting.

A year ago today, I was taking my very first steps toward a better life. The 3 years prior had been agonizing on all accounts — the death of my father and both grandmothers, the end of a comfortable career and decade-long relationship promptly followed by two more painful relationships (ones in which I was both the victim and the villain), crippling anxiety and addiction... I succumbed miserably to these circumstances, at the expense of my health and everyone in my life, playing “woe is me” to death, both figuratively and, sadly, almost literally.

When I look back at last Thanksgiving weekend, I was barely a month deep down a path to changing my whole world. It was messy. Very, very messy. But I was oddly proud. Back then, I was still the victim in my mind and so pride was my armor; there was no magic moment where I knew I had to change — it all came about as a desperate plea to make it stop that sent me on a trajectory that has been on an exponential incline as of late.

Today, after a year of practicing honesty as if I were learning a new language, I not only see, but I accept — despite all circumstances out of my control — I fucked up.

Big time.

There was no lifestyle change, career change, or string of fateful fortune that could save me from myself. Last Thanksgiving, it was all laid out before me like a king’s feast and I was so distracted by pride I nearly let it all go to shit.

Today, the only reason things are so, so great is because I’m able to regularly look myself in the eye and honestly say: Vanessa, you fucked up.

Contrary to the belief that such an admission would lead to a pity party for one, there is no relief — no gift — greater than seeing my mistakes for the failures they are, and then learning how to get the fuck out of my own way.

I’d spent my entire twenties fighting so hard to control external circumstances so they’d cooperate with my expectations. Over ten years of trying to mold the whole damn world to fit the ideals and demands of my twisted, selfish thinking. Seeing that for what it was, little by little, has been the single most liberating feeling in the world. The fight was over.

Now, I wake up every day expecting (and sometimes eager) to find a new fault that I can work on. At 31, I’m learning who I really am for the first time and figuring out how I can change to cooperate with the world around me, instead of the other way around. I cannot stress enough how absolutely, positively fucking brilliant life has been as a result — an honest to God dream come true.

Chips will fall where they may. People will do what they will do. Tragedies will strike as they will. Days will suck. Love will be lost. And it’s all perfectly okay because my only task today is to seek ways to be useful. It’s not always obvious, and I continue to make mistakes that suck and sometimes harm. But eventually, in the throes of remorse and resentment, an insatiable desire to make better use of myself and my time brings about the revolutionary thinking that puts the error to rest.

I guess all I’m trying to really say is: this Thanksgiving, I’m truly, honestly, wonderfully thankful for fucking up.