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Small Gratitudes

I woke to a sense of golden peace, the deep, permeating kind that resonates in my bones. I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately- not just in the Thanksgiving sense, but in the sense of my life as a whole.

A recent example: a sweetheart of mine texts me goodnight most nights, long after I’m already asleep, and I wake up in the morning to this goodnight text. It makes me smile; it feels like a bridge from one day to another, reading “goodnight,” as the dawn is breaking. He doesn’t have to do this- it’s not a D/s protocol thing, and I don’t expect it. But I love it, and it makes me smile.

I have this habit of assuming other people know how I react and respond to them, even when they are not physically in front of me. I hadn’t told him I like his goodnight texts because of course he must know that I appreciate it and enjoy it. A couple days ago, I was thinking about it and realized, huh. I should probably tell him how much I like this small, little thing that he does. So I did, and it was a sweet moment.

I’m good at expressing gratitude in the big, obvious moments: someone giving me a present, or moments where I’m overwhelmed at how lucky I feel to be surrounded by the incredible people in my life. What I’m realizing is that I’m terrible at letting people know the small ways they move and touch my life. I assume people know how much their small (sometimes seemingly insignificant) actions impact me and make me feel safe and seen and heard and cared for. It’s not that I take these things for granted; it’s really that I assume that, of course people know that thing they do warms my heart and is so, so appreciated and feels really good.

Hey, in other news, water is wet and people aren’t mind readers.

Sometimes, the little things go unrecognized. Sometimes, the small day-to-day things, the things that give us that extra smile, that warm feeling, that sense of feeling loved and safe don’t always get mentioned. It’s not that we take for granted that they will continue to happen, but more… of course they know that I love when they bring flowers home and of course I should know that you appreciate it when I do the dishes and of course they know that I really love the silly morning talks over coffee before they go to sleep and of course he knows that I appreciate having him around the house and of course he knows that I love those silly goodnight texts and of course she knows that I love seeing pictures of her pictures and of course she knows that coffee-and-vent-time means the world to me, and…and.

But if we don’t tell people when things touch us, then they don’t necessarily know. Like all things, it feels vulnerable to let someone know that they touch my life in small ways. I don’t ever want an expression of gratitude or appreciation to come across as expectation- part of the reason I love some of the small things people do is because they do them without it being asked or expected. I don’t want to make these small things feel bigger than they are or feel unnecessarily loaded; I just want you to know that, hey, when you did that thing…I liked it. Thank you. It meant something to me.

As I am learning to express gratitude for these small things, it feels strangely intimate. It feels like allowing someone to see something in me that part of me assumes they already know- but if they don’t, then they are learning something about the tender capacities of my heart. That I’m kind of a sap and these little things have greater impact than they know. It’s a, “hey, you take up space in my life in this way and I really like it.” It’s a, “hey, the things you do impact me; I am not immune to your expressions of care and connection.”

I’ve had people tell me things that they assumed, of course, I should already know. And maybe I should have and my own tendency toward self-doubt kept me from really internalizing and knowing those things, but regardless. Hearing these things said out loud felt good; they assuaged some self-doubts, or made me feel appreciated or welcome in someone else’s life. Like there was space for me there, or the ways that I take up space are welcome and well-met.

I think many of us are good at expressing gratitude and appreciation for people in the big moments. But those small things people do, almost insignificant and not obvious to anyone else, but make us feel warm and loved and important… those are the things that really make up and build our relationships, our connections with other people. They are the small fibers that weave together to build impossibly strong foundations and safety nets. They are the little things- like a good night text, or a bunch of flowers from the farmer’s market, or an hour carved out of a busy schedule or a good morning kiss- it’s the little things that I am bad at saying how much they mean to me when, in some ways, it is those little things that mean the most.

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