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 Thanksgiving Wishes 

Picture of Dr. Al Dirschberger

Dr. Al Dirschberger

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GIVE THANKS TO THOSE CLOSEST TO US: FAMILY AND FRIENDS

As we sit around the table to give thanks before we indulge in a Thanksgiving feast, we should give thanks to those closest to us. Those who demonstrate unconditional love and support. Our family and friends. We will never know when our lives are totally disrupted by an event that sends us into a constant state of turmoil. Yet, no matter what, we are surrounded by a circle of support that is evident daily.

It is common to believe you are facing this adversity all alone when actually you are not. When I was arrested, everyday I would wake up carrying the heavy load of embarrassment, guilt and shame. The feeling of lonliness was constant. I found myself paralyzed with emotions to the point I would dread facing the world everyday. This feeling is all too common to many situations that affect us in our lives.

These types of situations will cause us to feel we are living the same day — day after day. A real live version of “Groundhog Day” after the movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The only difference between the movie and our experience is that in the movie the characters get a chance to change the events of the previous day. We cannot change what happened. The situation is always going to be the same.

The one simiarity to the movie is the lonliness and helplessness as you to try to navigate each day to a positive conclusion. However, we are not truly alone. We are surrounded by family and friends that support us unconditionally. All we have to do is open our eyes. If not for the support of family and friends, it would be very difficult to face the adversity that is not only challenging and overwhelming, but life changing. 

When I found myself incarcerated, I met many different individuals and personalities. For some, prison is no big deal and they believe it to be a part of who they are — simply an occupational hazard.  For others it is a whole different story. For one individual I met, it is a thirty-six year journey to get back home. Everyone calls him “Beans”.

Beans was your typical young adult, starting out in life full of fun and adventure. He found himself one day in handcuffs for committing a murder — a crime he wasn’t looking to commit. A lapse in judgment led to a life-altering event that has had him spend what seems like an eternity incarcerated. Yet through all the years and setbacks, his attitude and optimism is inspiring.

When asked how he has been able to endure thirty-six years incarcerated, he said three words — family and friends. Family and friends. Beans elaborated on his statement saying that family and friends get you through the years. They keep you alive, they are the reason to live. The only things that matters are your family and friends. Money, cars, houses, and clothing are all material. They don’t love. Family loves. Friends love. Family and friends are all the love you need. 

How true his insights are. Without support, we would never be able to face our biggest challenges. Support that comes unconditionally from family and friends provides the energy to move forward. As I reflect on my situation, it has been easy to come up with times my family and friends provided the emotional support needed to face any challenge head on.

When I needed support, my family and friends would find the most opportune time to demonstrate their support. My daughter found one of those times and sent me a card that read “In a time you probably feel defeated, I want you to know that no matter what, I will always love and support you. Know that one mistake does not define you as a person. I don’t want you to feel alone. We are all here for you.”  

Facing adversity alone is daunting, but having the unconditional love and support of your family is empowering. It gives you the courage, the drive, the will-power to succeed. To move forward.  Sure, as we all face adversity and have no idea where it may end, together with our family, anything can be accomplished.  

Family will not be the only ones to communicate their unconditional love and support. True friends emerge. One of the first things you can learn through adversity are who your true friends will be. They will be the ones that stand by you and provide the support you need to overcome anything. They ask for nothing in return. They demonstrate their commitment by their actions while those you thought were your friends demonstrate their lack of commitment by their lack of actions.  

Every week or so they will support you in ways that help you stay focused and encourage you to keep moving forward. A friend of mine sent me a text that to this day is something I periodically re-read that helps put things in perspective. It brings to focus an attitude one must have to suceed and it demonstrates how lucky I am to have such good friends.

“It is in the darkest moment of the midnight skies that we are able to see the most amazing stars. Focus on them and not the blackness that seems to surround and tries so much to consume their glowing energy. Think of those stars as the people you have so positively affected and know the person you are. They will always shine for you. Most of their trails in the shadows. You live a public life. With that power and fame comes pressures that no one can understand and has led many to falter. A momentary lapse in judgement should never define a person. It is how you respond that will. Focus on the light knowing that the dawn will come. If we were all exposed and had to wear our weaknesses for all to see, even our deepest adn darkest secrets, wouldn’t we be more alike. Haters will hate, judgers will judge. The rest are the ones that matter. Keep talking to the ones that always listen and know fully all of your trials, tribulations and still unconditionally love you. That is a beautiful thing and should be the foundation which we lay our very soul.”

The power of friendship and support from your loved ones and friends can overcome any challenge you may face. The lesson learned is that you can face your biggest fears no matter what curve ball life may throw at us. All that matters are the loved ones in our lives that have been and will always be there to support us unconditionally. So give thanks for them, for they are truly the reason we live.  

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

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