Before writing this post, I came across many definitions for radical acceptance. The one that resonated with me is from a Psychology Today article from Dec. 2013.
Radical Acceptance means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting your suffer less.
Four weeks ago, after processing the last of some horrific events that happened to me, I looked at my therapist and exclaimed,” you know this is really just a piece of the pie.” He nodded his head in agreement as I went on to say, “even this little piece of the pie, could knock someone down for the rest of their lives, and in my situation, this is just one little piece of the whole pie.” I was really calm about the whole realization. I began to lock-in the pieces of the big picture.
This new realization was the total scope and real acceptance, that I was nothing more than a tool, a non-human object, that had the very fabric of my being torn apart, unglued over and over again for the first twenty years of my life. It wasn’t a dramatic, tear-filled, aha moment. It was a gentle, radical acceptance of the truth of what happened to me. I’ve come in and out of this realization for about a year now, but to really accept it was another feeling altogether.
Then the second phase of acceptance. My PTSD is not going away anytime soon. I have written before about my fight with this diagnosis, and my unrealistic expectation that I would have emerged from eight years of therapy to be “cured.” This is a different acceptance. This is the acceptance, that because of what happened to me, it is a miracle I’m alive and knowing now, that it would have been impossible, not to be affected by my trauma. I developed my own personal definition of radical acceptance:
Acceptance – I know what happened and I have to try and live with the weight of all I saw, all that I was forced to do, all that directly happened to me, the effects of the trauma and resulting PTSD.
It’s been a month since I’ve had these revelations. It has been a slow-burning four weeks. Knowing it in my head doesn’t translate to feeling it my body. Knowing it logically doesn’t instantly translate into my feeling mind or my shattered soul. This has been a slow-burn. It wasn’t an event; sobbing, floor stomping, why, why, why! It’s been a process of making myself, just-sit, just-be, let the tears flow, let my body feel the exhaustion which comes with radical acceptance and listening to my intuitive-self for what I need. Last week, I went to Arizona and visited the Peace Park/Stupa. It filled my cup, helped me calm my soul and I found some peace. A week ago I wasn’t sure I would ever find peace inside. Acceptance is one thing, finding a peaceful feeling in the midst of the carnage is quite another.
I don’t have any grand insights because this is all still quite new and I believe that the work that’s before me now is practicing radical acceptance. I no longer fear that I will go into any kind of denial. I seemed to have forgotten how to forget that the skeleton hands of my past will keep trying to pull me down. I’ve accepted that is the result of the trauma. It will have an effect on parts of my day, but not my entire day.
The trauma and the resulting PTSD has changed my life. It prevents me from working more than two hours a day, hopping in the car to run errands, enjoying restaurants, travel, and I have to consciously work with the triggers that cause flashbacks, and other assorted symptoms. I have been working on those symptoms consistently during the past eight years, but now I have to practice acceptance that I have to continue to work with my symptoms. It probably is the same concept, it just feels different. Before it was something I had to do because I was going through therapy. Now, I do it because I’m figuring out a way to have the best life I can have working withing the confines of my symptoms.
My perpetrators worked hard to unglue the very fabric of my mind, psyche, soul. They succeeded for a very long time. Now with this acceptance, I am mending the fabric of myself. I have done the work, I understand, I have radically accepted my past and the impact it has on my present.
To continue the practice of mending my mind, body, and soul, I’ll have to keep freshening up the glue of self-compassion, worthiness, perspective and acceptance. I can’t say how anything will look for me in a year. I assume things will look and feel very different than it does today. That’s part of the impermanence of life.
My radical acceptance is a quieter, more present, peaceful way of being. Perhaps it’s true, totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind, you suffer less.
image source: Pixabay
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph