I don’t know why I hold on to anger, and even minor irritations, for so long. Is it motivated in fear? Fear that if I express myself, really be myself, I’ll be rejected? I think there has to be some component of my emotions based upon that. It would be hard not to have remnants of rejection insecurity after being discarded by my own parents, after they put it on paper that they wished I were dead.
Interesting aside: Somehow it’s worse that my parents said they “wished I were dead,” rather than “I hope you die.” Mom and Dad would rather not wait for my passing to happen on some future date. No, they hate me so much they prefer I were dead already, at some moment in the distant past.
The fear of rejection is palpable. When I’m in that transitional period of being ever-so-close to communicate, after the long winter of shutting down and not communicating? “What will she say? How will she react? What should I do,” I repeatedly ask myself, in almost-panic mode. I have the words I want to say, but I literally can’t talk. I try, but stop, nothing coming out of my mouth. Then I beat myself up and try again. And again. And again. Until finally, for whatever reason, I’m able to break through. The fits and starts are so frustrating. It makes me feel stupid and immature, yet I do it over and over, not learning a single lesson from the last time that exact same process played out.
My insecurities have colored all my relationships, romantic, platonic, and otherwise. I never felt good enough. I’ve always felt like a disappointment, to others, and to myself. I struggled with hateful self-talk that would not be silenced. The result was destructive behavior and malicious internal dialogue that at times, I actually wished harm upon the closest of my friends.
Yeah, you read that right. Now, maybe “harm” is a strong word. I never wished my friends physical harm. Thankfully, I wasn’t that much of a jackass. No, the harm I refer to was with respect to their careers. I feared they would succeed, making me look like more of a failure.
Those thoughts, right there, are amongst the ones I’m most ashamed of, in my life.
If you knew the friends that were the receivers of that bad karma, those awful vibes I was sending their way, you’d be even more repulsed at my actions. I’ve known these dudes for over forty years, since sixth grade. I played football with them before I was a teen, we vacationed together, and we continue to share our lives together, to this day. I’m even the godfather to both of their youngest children, an honor and blessing that fills me with joy. And one that makes my previous behavior all the more shameful.
As a thought experiment, imagine your best friend, your closest ally, your staunchest supporter. Think of your past and your fondest memories in life. The simple instances that still make you smile. The more profound occasions that touch your very soul. The times where someone close to you kicks you in your ass when you need it, but then gives you a helping hand, lifting you up off your knees. Think of all that, roll it all together, add in humor, grace, kindness, sincerity, honesty and the security of knowing that they’ll always be there for you and what do you have? My friends. My best friends, Chris and Terry (Actually, runner-up best friends, after my soon-to-be wife, Keeda😊😀).
And I’ve never told either of them—or anyone, for that matter—anything about the dark thoughts I directed their way.
It makes me deeply sad, thinking of my past. I dwell on the loss and pain I’ve caused, rather than the joy I’m certain to have brought into the world.
I struggle with that quote, a bit. I think I understand the second sentence. I get that accepting your past, your flaws, your current condition, your life, all of that, is a a good thing. That doing so will provide you a meassure of relief from the shackles of depression and anxiety. And that doing so will ultimately result in a happier, better version of yourself. But how do you get there? What tools are available to reach that goal? It’s the first sentence that sucks, for me. Yes, acceptance is a motherfucker, because I don’t know what to do to fight that battle, to get to that state of mind.
My therapist, the author of that confounding quote, provided me with a platitude to handle that first sentence: Live in the moment.
I post the definition not to insult your intelligence, Dear Reader. It was for me. I wasn’t exactly sure I was using the word correctly. But despite the harsh characterization it implies, I did use “platitude” as intended. My therapist’s words just didn’t seem very helpful. Because, I already try that shit. I try my best to live in the moment, to realize that I have little control over the future and none over the past. And recognizing this, what’s the point of dwelling on things out of my control? It all sounds good, and I firmly believe that philosophy. Still, why the F doesn’t it help?
How about Yoga, meditation, and journaling? I already do that, daily. (At least, meditation is daily, without fail. Yoga? Umm, maybe once a week? And journaling? Every several days. Get off my back, Dear Reader! I never claimed to be perfect. Why don’t you look in the mirror before casting stones, huh? What do YOU do in your own life to practice acceptance? Seriously. Tell me. I need the advice. 🙏 )
So sorry, A. Camp (Umm, my therapist. Have you even been paying attention, Dear Reader?😘). I’m sorry for dismissing your words as trite and unhelpful. Sadly though, that’s pretty much how I feel. I need something more concrete. Because accepting my life, with all its baggage, mistakes, and things that frankly I don’t want to accept? It’s not easy. Not by a long shot.
Things I do NOT want to accept:
- My troubled relationship with my daughters. How can I ever accept that they effectively don’t want me in their lives? Acceptance is a motherfucker, but so is the fallout from divorce.
- My mistakes. Not all of them. I can accept forgetting to pick up milk, mundane miscalculations, or being snippy because my feeling were hurt. But I cannot accept the ones that continue to haunt me, like wishing my friends to fail, described earlier. Or blocking my daughter from leaving the bathroom during an emotional crisis, leaving her feel helpless. (I strongly dislike that memory. I feel as if I stripped away some of my daughter’s soul, her essence, her fighting spirit.) Or my failed marriage. Or any countless other errors, missteps and affronts I’ve committed along the way.
- My impending death.
Things I have to accept:
- All of the above.
- The world around me.
- The entirety of my past.
- The uncertainty of the future.
- So much more.
So where do we go from here? Because honestly, you haven’t been very helpful today, Dear Reader. I’ve asked for help in this thingy of practicing acceptance. And what did you provide?
It appears as if I’m on my own in this journey. But I guess we all are, no?
We all have a past. We all have regrets and worries. I’m not so naïve to think that mine are worse than any others. In fact, I honestly believe mine to be trivial, compared to the suffering so many others have to endure. My troubles aren’t more significant; they’re just different, that’s all.
Maybe I need to just accept that acceptance is hard. That its a daily process. And even though the devices I’ve implemented don’t appear to be working on the surface, I need to have faith and trust that they are. Digging deeper, removing the topsoil and taking a step back, I know my mindfulness habits have worked. I’m no longer on anti-depressants and my mind isn’t constantly swirling with self-doubts. (I said, “constantly.” My doubts are still there, lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce. But I’ve managed to shut that internal voice down, most times. I’ll take that.)
Circling back to paragraph one, how do I let things go? How do I accept that every argument doesn’t mean permanent rejection is looming, how do I trust that voicing my hurts isn’t going to doom my relationship? For starters, I need to recognize that my fiancé is not my mother (Yikes. Not a pleasant thought, that one.). And that regardless of the disagreement, she never intentionally hurts me. If I can get to that place in my mind, I can get to a place of forgiveness. Forgiving both her, and myself. I just wish it didn’t take me hours of ruminating to ultimately end up in the same spot I was at pre-argument: In a loving relationship with a partner and friend that always has my best interests at heart.
- Practice acceptance, despite it being hard. There will be rainy days, but the sun will come out again. Have faith in the impermanence of everything.
- Don’t give up. Trust the process.
- Live in the moment. Maybe it’s cliché, but it’s also truth.
- Be grateful (I didn’t really mention that MAJOR producer of happiness, but living with that in your heart is always a good thing, Markie.).
(And for the record: I was kinda jerky, earlier, saying that you haven’t been helpful. You have, Dear Reader. By being a good listener. You’ve helped tremendously. And for that, I thank you.)