The Things I took for Granted

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 11-24-2021

I turned 32 recently (September 12th). Feeling older, yet luckier. A little more fatigued, but somehow there’s more energy. Gratitude is not something I started to practice until I hit my early thirties, and I’m not shocked. It takes some wisdom. It takes a little bit of aging because with that we can finally see the growth. We can stand back and find reason in the madness. I always tell clients and friends that “Getting to know ourselves will be the best thing we ever do.” Why? To learn to weed out the junk that often contaminated us in our youth. I have gratitude in being able to age, and much much more. Much of my writings talk about mental illness and suffering, but this is going to be about gratitude. As well as, the things I used to take for granted.

⁃ Family/ friend time: I believe that maybe I took my family and friend time for granted because I was taught that if I wasn’t working hard toward my professional development, then I was wrong. The unfortunate thing is that when you are working hard towards success you must sacrifice most of your free time. This meant minimal friend and family time, and to be honest, I think a lot of people in my life have been incredibly understanding. It doesn’t change the fact that I now recognize this sacrifice I made and how it made me turn into a a complete stranger to those that loved me. Military life, college, martial arts training and career all took precedence. After resigning from being a therapist in February of this year, I made it a point to squeeze in a lot of family/ friend time for the remainder 2021. It’s been incredible getting to know people all over again.

⁃ Peace & quiet: I lived in NYC for the past 7 years before I moved back to the SoCal Mojave desert also in February. What an experience! But ultimately, I never want to live in a city again and I truly love my desert hometown. I love the quiet, I love the open space, I love the boredom. I took this small town for granted from ages 10-18, but now, I don’t want to leave it. The moment I moved back I felt right at home.

⁃ Working out: I workout all the time, and yes I do love it. But all athletes get to that point where we go on auto pilot for a while. It becomes mundane, tedious and boring. Also, we forget how lucky we are to be able bodied enough to workout the way we want to. No matter how unmotivated I may feel, I am now thankful anytime I show up and step on the mats for martial arts. I am thankful anytime I step outside for a desert walk or jog. When I’m finished with a workout, I am thankful for the endorphins I achieved.

⁃ Single-hood: I was in two back to back long term relationships where I lived with my partners the majority of the time. Obviously, nothing worked out, and I found myself petrified of being single for a brief period of time. Now, I find myself loving the time to get to live for me and only me. It was that thing I truly needed that I could not know or see for the majority of my early adulthood. Anytime I do anything without the need to check in with someone else or ask for permission, I feel gratitude. Anytime I’m awkwardly in the middle of seeing a couple bicker… gratitude.

⁃ Sobriety: The majority of us self medicate from time to time. For some, it may turn into heavy self medicating and/ or addiction. This happens as we chase highs. We chase highs when we fear the lows. When we fear our sober brain, as we know all too well how debilitating our symptoms can be. I’m talking about symptoms such as depression, anxiety, trauma triggers, sleep issues, anger and more. And, the drugs we may take to alleviate said symptoms. But, hopefully, we can engage in harm reduction and learn to also appreciate sobriety. The goal of medicating is to ease symptoms, not to permanently chase a high. I’m learning the difference, and I appreciate sobriety just as much as I do my medicine(s).

– Myself: I didn’t make time for self care, I did not have boundaries. I was self destructive, always a work in progress. I worked hard but never celebrated the hard work. I don’t care how much of a success you are, if you are incapable of celebrating and rewarding yourself, it will be a miserable existence. Now a days, some would even say I spoil myself, but after I work hard, I know what I deserve. Don’t want to take yourself for granted? Get to know you, find your sense of purpose, what gives you meaning, what brings you joy. And remember, always go back to that. Give yourself permission to put your needs first, regularly. My mind is more at peace with these practices.


This was awesome to reflect on, and just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday of 2021. I’ll be keeping it simple and low key, and hopefully others follow suit. Why add unnecessary stress to your life? Remember it’s about being thankful and having gratitude, not showing off or feeling the pressure to impress others. Take care!

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

2 thoughts on “The Things I took for Granted

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: