Alyssa Royse is thankful for a dysfunctional childhood and an adulthood filled with crisis, because it made her who she is.
People often look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that I am thankful for things in my life that many people think of as disasters. But I mean it. There is a Japanese tradition called Kintsugi that provides the most perfect metaphor. As artist Barbara Bloom explains it, “When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
It is in that spirit that I am grateful for everything that has made me who I am.
I am thankful for a childhood that was dysfunctional enough to teach me that I want something better for my adulthood, and for the childhood of my children.
I am thankful for my parents’ divorce, which taught me that I have the right to leave relationships that don’t make me happy, and can do so respectfully and lovingly, for the kids.
I am thankful for the 3 elementary schools, 3 junior highs and 3 high schools that I went to and felt like “instability” at the time, but now feel like a lifetime of lessons in self-reliance and embracing change.
I am thankful for all of the manipulative and co-dependent people in my life, for teaching me how to let go of things that hold me back and make me feel powerless, and reminding me that I am not responsible for carrying anyone else’s baggage.
I am thankful for every man who ever cheated on me, lied to me, and let me down, because they showed me what I don’t deserve, and taught me to value myself by surrounding myself with people who value me.
I am thankful for my rape. Having a gun to my head clearly showed me the difference between sex and violence, and taught me not to not hold myself responsible for the actions of others. It showed me that the times at which I feel the most broken are often the ones that are making me stronger. Looking back, this helped me see that I can always make a bright future for myself, no matter how dark it looks at the time. It also has helped set me on a life’s path to fight for social justice, in all of its forms.
I am thankful for the opportunity to battle through addiction and mental health crises with people I love. It is from them that I learned how strong, supportive and flexible love is, (and I am) and the compassion necessary to fight for the humanity in all people. No matter what.
I am thankful for the car that drove 30 MPH into a car I was riding in, breaking my neck and giving me a life of chronic pain. Being that close to death gave me gratitude the likes of which I’ve never known, and chronic pain has given me an uncanny ability to find things I can do rather than focus on things I can’t do.
But most of all, I am thankful for the people in my life, who I chose, and who I love. Who chose me and love me. I am not sure I would know how lucky I am, or even recognize all of them, were it not for all the unmitigated shit that came before.
I am thankful for every bruised knee, broken heart, torn muscle, and shattered dream. They all made me who I am. And I am thankful that I am me.