I went through the most intense rage a few weeks ago over the prospect of realising that I need to have my front tooth extracted, to be promised an appointment in July only later to be told they would not take be able to take the tooth out for 3 months. On Monday the dentist called and they are going to take my tooth out in three weeks time. I was grateful that I wont have to wait so long. I can get the tooth out, get my denture and no longer have the prospect hanging over my head with all the attendant anger about the way things have turned out in my life. If I continue to dwell on all of that pain I could go mad, but the point I am beginning to accept is I can not change one single thing from my past and so I now need to accept what my life and story has been so far. All of that said feeling the rage was a very important part of the entire process.
As I consider this it occurs to me that often people struggle for they feel they should not have the story or life they have. With our chronic self improvement culture, it seems to me that we are often trying to be or do or get somewhere else than where we are. Many of us don’t seem to truly love and accept who we are, how we feel or even what we need. We seem to be hell bent on changing things, improving things, upgrading things and for sure some kind of improvement or progress can be a good thing, but to self reject all of the time, to believe that we are defective in some way and can only be loved if we change, well where is the love, healing and acceptance in that? This is the question I have been asking myself more and more lately.
I have a close family member in my life who is struggling with a huge issue at present. In fact this struggle and issue has been going on for years and years and years. My relative cannot accept the situation she is in. The truth is that if she accepts the truth of the situation she has to feel pain and thwarting of her will. She has tried so many ways to fix the problem, but no fix is coming. When she shares about it with me I want to honestly say ‘let it go, you are hurting yourself more by your lack of acceptance” but I don’t feel its my place to point out a truth that may hurt her and one she has to arrive at by herself in her own time. So I have just told her I feel for her and hope that in time she won’t cause herself more angst by struggling so hard to have what it is she wants but cannot have.
At the moment I am so glad I have a 12 step recovery programme which teaches me to seek the serenity that comes when I can accept what cannot be fixed, cured or changed. I am so grateful I have a higher self or higher power I can turn to when I struggle in similar ways to ask for help and get my own will out of the way. For sometimes in life our will is just not meant to be, what we want is not what the universe thinks we need and how we handle this critical issue can be the thing that makes or breaks us.
Acceptance does not mean we like a thing, or love a person. It is just a saying of an unconditional ‘yes’ to the will of life which may act at cross purposes to our will. It is an ability to say I will let go of my need for you to be different. I may not be able to let go of my want and my hope, but at some stage in order to find peace I need to let go into the reality. I may need to let the person go if they infuriate or consistently hurt me enough. My letting go in that case is a sign of sanity to my mind.
I guess that place of peace and sanity is where I am finding myself living more and more lately. It was definitely a stormy, stormy journey to get there. A journey on which I got lashed almost to shreds on psychological rocks of pain and anxiety. But today I can see more clearly where those rocks may lay. When I find things are getting stormy I can take cover in a place where I am not as exposed to the elements, or I can decide to toughen up and weather the storm, letting it tear away what wants or needs to be released. I can look for something beautiful or joyous to fill my day and uplift my spirit. Once I am aware of my pain I can treat myself in a tender self soothing way and not make things harder by beating myself or others up. I can stop in pray or meditation and ask for help or guidance when I am struggling with issues of anger or grief.
And I am finding that I can open my heart to life more fully even on the cold dull grey days like today, for I live in a world with other humans who also struggle just like me on those days. When I reach out, get myself to a group meeting or just make the effort to connect I can find that I am less alone and that there is someone out there struggling even more than me. Together we can share the burden so that we know we are not alone. We can speak out our pain, we can recover from that deep aloneness which comes from being imprisoned inside wrong ideas of self rejection, or unfulfilled and sadly unrealistic expectations. Often these form a prison that keeps us trapped in angst, preventing us from accepting the grace we find when we turn towards ourselves, life and others in openness, acceptance, surrender, trust and love.
There are no wrong turnings.
Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.
Guy Gavriel Kay