Community Gratitude

Talking about gratitude on Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S.) is cliche, I know. But I have to chime in because this year, I am feeling overwhelming gratitude for my communities.

I have been blessed in my family and friends for my entire life. My family is wacky in its own unique way, but it is a soft and safe place to land, and my in-laws have always welcomed me as one of their own. My husband is everything.

Friends have filled my life. A. has known me the longest, since we were neighbors in our freshman dorm at college. K. and I have been as close as sisters since the day she sat down and introduced herself before our Criminal Law class. And T.–well, I have only spent one day with her face to face but she is as dear to me as any member of my family.

Another friend from my pre-ME life is T., who was in the law firm trenches with me. After I got sick, I thought I would not be able to make new friends ever again, but I was 100% wrong. There is M., who I cold-called when fundraising and we ended up talking for hours. And J., who is practically my twin. We have only met in person once, but she is family. D. reached out to me on the suggestion of a third person, and became a fixture in my life. There are still more, and I don’t want to leave anyone out. I am surrounded by women who I trust with my life. I don’t have one best friend; I have many.

The ME community is another blessing. This past year in particular the ME community has shown up for each other and for people with Long Covid. I hesitate to list individuals, but there are two people I need to mention. Jaime Selzer is killing it, along with the entire #MEAction leadership team. Mina Jenkins is a cornerstone of advocacy, calmly speaking truth to power for longer than I have been sick. The Long Covid community has been a true ally to people with ME, promoting science in our field and reaching back to include us on their platform. I am deeply impressed with and grateful for the work they’ve done.

I am grateful for another community that has become a powerful presence in my life in the last year. The Autonomous Creative Collective has transformed my writing practice. To the extent I have made progress on my book, it is in large part due to what I am learning there. I am especially grateful to my small co-working group. I didn’t think co-working would mesh very well with my limitations, but this fabulous group of people have supported and encouraged me in ways I did not know I needed.

Living with ME is lonely. The pandemic shutdowns that freaked everyone out were just mini versions of what we deal with all the time. My life has been enriched by all of my people. I am happy–despite being sick, housebound, and disabled–and that happiness is largely thanks to all the people who love me. I am forever, deeply grateful that you are in my life.

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6 Responses to Community Gratitude

  1. Carollynn says:

    And the whole ME community is grateful for you– not just as an advocate but also as a smart, funny, compassionate, creative, and courageous human being. Over the last couple of decades you lead and pushed for so many things that seem to be coming to fruition for our community and the new covid ranks among us, while being so ill yourself. Thank you deeply!

  2. Patty Hirst says:

    I too am grateful and truly blessed for the family and friends who love me. There’s no way I could navigate the world without them. It’s so very important to me.
    I’m truly blessed with having a wonderful husband (45+years) who loves and accepts me, warts and all. Sick for 35 years (ME/CFS & FM).

    I am grateful for you and Cort at Health Rising for all the information, love, care and help.

    You seem like family to me, I’m sure we were sisters in a past life! Too bad the distance all the way across the country is prohibitive to most of us.

    Blessings and prayers.♥️

  3. Dorothea says:

    Thank you, Jennie, for sharing your wonderful gratitudes! This past week as I visited with old friends, I thought a lot about how we are social creatures — even us shy ones. I often overlook the healing power of engaging with people who make me feel seen and heard. Belonging matters.

    • Jennie Spotila says:

      Belonging does matter! I have been housebound for so long that I forgot how important it is to be seen, to have community. Thank you for being part of that for me!

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