After a morning spent preparing a wonderful Thanksgiving lunch, an afternoon spent in the company of family and great food, it is without a doubt that this Thanksgiving evening should be dedicated to having some rest and relaxation. As I think back to all the things that I am thankful for, the list goes on and on and on and on. In other words, there’s a lot on that list.

I could say that I’m thankful for my ever supportive family, the friends who give me 5 A.M. memories (good and not so good), the strangers who told me “Bless you” when I sneezed, and every other blessing that entered my life during this year. But as I arrived back to a home almost covered in a blanket of night, the darkness reminded me of another list to be thankful for.

And this list is filled with as much bad as there is good in my life. I am thankful for the heartache that I felt because of an absence of “us” and the sleepless nights that soon followed afterwards. This taught me the importance of differentiating between falling in love with the person and falling in love with an idea. An idea can be grand and marvelous and filled with a fairy-tale romance. But a person is living and breathing and able to warm you up when it’s cold. I am thankful for the broken family I had during my youth. During this season of my life, I learned that every family situation is different and forgiveness is a key element to healing. I am thankful for the loneliness that built up into an avalanche of suicidal thoughts that threatened to bury me alive. Because I reached the bottom, there was nowhere left to go but up. And perhaps by the grace of God, I was able to come across various rays of light that would eventually lead me home.

Over the course of my life, I have accumulated both good and bad memories, experiences, whatever you want to call it. But these moments gave me strength, taught me valuable life lessons, and helped me to discover the person that I am and am becoming at this very moment. So before you begin your post-Thanksgiving-meal hibernation, I hope that you will be able to take a moment and appreciate the bad just as much as you’ve appreciated the good in your life. It’s worth it.