Acceptance by its very nature is imperfect; it’s messy and often unpleasant, while ultimately leading to a place of growth, a sense of freedom, and a life familiar with ease. I know this because I have had a lot of painful acceptance in my life, and it has been crucial to helping me move beyond the stuckness of fear and suffering.
Years ago, being the natural striving, fun-seeking, achievement-oriented person I was, I ignored the fact that my body felt like a truck had run over it. I pushed, faked, and hid what my body was really feeling… until it all came to a screeching halt.
Diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease, and a future of chronic pain or worse, I had to give up the impressive job, the active social life, and the self-image that had all propped me up in the world. And then what was left?
ely, I wanted to go back to the way things were, to repatch it all back together again. Fortunately, I inherently felt the impossibility of all of that, and so the work began.
I started taking a meditation class and then a Buddhist practice, and one day sitting silently, feeling my body breathing, listening inwardly to what was there, the hard, guarding shell around my heart broke. I had to accept there was no going back to normal, there was only being with what is and opening to where that might lead.
Acceptance is not resignation. It is not passively giving up. It takes courage and strength.
I feel it more of a falling inward, dropping into the sensations of what is, recognizing and acknowledging what’s there. A place of empowerment and choice instead of feeling like a victim to chance. It is a beautiful sense of coming home to the body in the present moment, a feeling of wholeness and strength to better face your circumstances, whatever they may be.
That being said, there were a lot of tears and a lot of pain; in other words, it was messy. A series of small steps, it took a while.
I had to accept that I could no longer keep up with my carefree, energetic friends as they traveled around the world and partied around the clock.
I had to accept I would no longer create interesting buildings as an architect or participate in gallery shows as an artist.
Most difficult of all, I had to accept that I could no longer be the fun-loving, happy person my husband needed—at least not right away.
I had to accept my life had suddenly taken a new direction and be receptive to the possible changes that this might bring. Receptivity was the key to opening toward inner growth and inner intimacy, as well as a place of gentleness, all new territory for me!