That Damn Acceptance Word Again

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I posted a few months back about acceptance and how that word was difficult for me to put in to practice.  I’m still grappling with the idea of acceptance and what exactly acceptance looks like when it is successfully being practiced.  But I have gained grounds with this word and action in the last few months.  I realize that acceptance starts within me.  I cannot know how to accept others until I have learned to accept myself.  Only then will I recognize what acceptance truly is.  So I’m not there yet.  I have not learned acceptance yet.  I’m on the journey to define it, to live it, to breathe it.  A journey to make it as much a part of me as my beating heart is a part of me.  Until now it has not existed in me in a positive way.  Acceptance until this point in life has been nothing short of an addiction.  I have had a constant need to be accepted.  A need that has caused me to sacrifice parts of myself in that lust for an acceptance fix.  The need in me that pushes me to choose conformity, to not ruffle feathers, to constantly apologize not because I believe I’m wrong but instead to be accepted, to waiver on my convictions just to keep peace.  When I do these things I am not accepting myself.  I am simply perpetuating a nasty habit of keeping up the appearance of acceptance.  But it’s not true acceptance. It’s a lie.  A fantasy of massive proportions that I have created to avoid abandonment.
What I am trying to learn is that once I discover and own who Amy is, Amy is the only person who will not abandon herself.  Every one else is a risk and I will not find happiness in those risks.  Happiness comes when I have the integrity to stay true to myself and accept myself in my moments of failure and in my moments of triumphs.  I cannot rely on others to provide me that acceptance.
And what I am trying to learn is that once I have practiced and experienced this within myself I can become a place of acceptance for others while they are learning to accept themselves.
Here is where my confusion has always gotten stuck and remained stuck.  If I accept that I have a quick temper then I am saying that having a quick temper is okay and then I won’t see a need for change because I will just have accepted that a temper is part of me.
silence If I accept that Mark is going to continue to do ‘x’ with or without my approval and I have a huge huge moral issue with ‘x’ then by accepting Mark’s use of ‘x’ I have taken away my freedom to be upset about ‘x’.  And if I choose to stay upset about the use of ‘x’ then I have failed giving Mark acceptance.  The acceptance I fail to give Mark is defined by me helping him to feel safe to show me who he is.  If Mark presents ‘x’  and I hate ‘x’ then how does he feel safe?  And how do I feel safe if I don’t allow myself the permission to take a stand against ‘x’?  Hopefully I’m making this conflict clear….it’s difficult to clarify.
In the last week clarity came to me and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I get it.  I understand acceptance.  I understand it but I’m by no means good at it.  I’m accepting that 🙂  Here are the words spoken to me from the author Victoria Prater that made the acceptance fog lift for the first time in my life.

I realized that, in my head, acceptance was connected to and defined by agreement.  I believed that if I accepted something, I was agreeing with it-basically, approving of it….It was challenging for me to believe that I could have both acceptance and pain at the same time.  

z127920078The author then goes on to recall events in which she had experienced both pain and acceptance.  Those moments when she had given them both the freedom to exist simultaneously.  I also chose to journey in to my past and see if I could recall my own events in which acceptance and pain coexisted.  I recalled that moment a few years back when I could see a relationship for what it really was.  My counselor said these words, “She does not love you.  She is not capable of loving you.”  They were the most painful words because they were truths.  The strange piece was those truthful words not only brought pain but they brought me an instant freedom.  I no longer needed to fight against that reality.  To try and force a change that was not going to happen.  Instead by accepting it as truth I was able to allow myself the pain of not being loved but also a new ability to move forward.  Since that moment I have never again tried to force that person to love me because I accept that they are not capable.  That is acceptance.
I had a second distinct memory of my twin boys being born 9 weeks premature.  Tiny, little helpless beings fighting for life each and every day.  I was sick with pneumonia and couldn’t even meet them for the first 10 days of life.  Each day I would wonder if I would learn that one or both of them had stopped breathing and died.  Every day for 6 weeks.  But I also didn’t fight reality.  I accepted that this is what life had presented us.  It was painful and part of me wanted to fight it’s existence.  To not become attached.  To deny them love to save myself from pain.  But that would’ve been unacceptance.  I chose to feel the pain, accept reality, and  to gift each moment we had together.  Acceptance allowed me to process my pain and still face the truths of those days without the need to fight against it.  Resisting truths would only have caused all of us more pain and anguish.  Neither of which would’ve benefited me or the boys.  Instead we snuggled, we shared, at times we wept, but ultimately we survived together.  That is acceptance.

I realized after recalling these experiences that acceptance wasn’t about giving up or giving in or trying to transcend what I was feeling; it was, simply, accepting what was true.  An image of nonacceptance came to mind: there is something I dislike sitting next to me, and I either deny that I’m upset about it or try to transcend it by pretending it isn’t there.  Both responses mean I’m resisting reality.  In contrast, if I accept reality,  I could allow myself to sit next to this thing and be curious about its existence; I could even wonder what it had to offer me.  And I recognized something else: if I couldn’t bring myself to sit next to it with acceptance, then I could at least become aware of my resistance and accept that.  

acceptance.jpg image by magickanaffThat leaves me where I am today.  I finally after all these years have an understanding of acceptance.  Now it’s a matter of putting it in to practice. Awareness is always the first step to any change.  I am now aware.  So I begin by accepting myself.  Accepting that not every one will like me.  Accepting that at times even those who love me most will not like me.  But as long as I like me I can accept that others will not.  It’s a harsh reality but resisting that truth only leaves me in bondage.  I’m choosing the freedom that comes with seeing things for what they are and giving myself compassion to grieve those painful truths.  I am taking away the need to resist reality.

I also am trying to recognize that acceptance of myself will allow me to not project myself on to other people.  I can remove those relational barriers that resistance builds.  When I resist I put an extreme distance between myself and I begin to cloud my vision by seeing the other person as an enemy.  I want to change my enemies to make myself more comfortable.   The healthier, future approach I hope to master is accepting that people will hurt me, disappoint, and not always be what I want or need them to be but I can sit with that pain and disappointment and also allow myself to simply see the relationship for what it is.  Nothing less.  Nothing more.  That acceptance will ultimately bring me and likely the recipient a deeper, more meaningful relationship.

It’s time for me to set the acceptance addiction aside and simply see life and people in the here and now.  Love me first and then love for others will become more natural.  I’m releasing my burdens and accepting this moment.  Allowing room for both pain and acceptance.  Giving them room to coexist within my being.

What will I accept today:
I am on a journey and my journey is slower than I would like.
I have pain, insecurities, and uglies that I am not going to hide.  I’m opening myself up to them and allowing them to have their rightful turn.
My journey may cause some to leave (or be unaccepting) but that does not change who I am.
It’s okay for me not to like everybody.
I am entitled to my opinion and do not have to bend to what other’s want my opinion to be.
I can set boundaries without fear of abandonment.
Today will have its ups and downs and I will sit with each emotion.
I will not find perfection within myself or others.
Safety and acceptance are within me.
Failures are a part of my journey.
I am worth it.

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