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Acceptance on the healing journey
Does acceptance mean feeling completely at ease?
When you're on your healing journey, you may find yourself dreaming of a perfect end point.
"Someday, if I keep healing, I'll feel at peace, in full acceptance of the experience that brought pain and heartbreak," you say to yourself.
"Then it won't hurt anymore and I won't feel sad about it."
That may happen for you. It might!
I'm finding that for me, the first part of that — the peace and acceptance — is something that's under my control in my healing.
It feels like a good target.
But the second part — the moving forward without pain or sadness?
I don’t know.
I used to think that these two things were the same.
I wanted to believe that reaching acceptance meant not feeling anything negative anymore.
I am learning that they are not the same thing.
As I continue to grow and become a more emotionally full and resilient human, I'm finding that I can reach a place of peace and self-acceptance in relation to a hardship, but that it doesn't mean that I no longer feel any sadness or difficult emotions about it.
I can accept that something hard happened and feel at peace with it, while acknowledging that there's a part of me that still feels sad about it — and maybe always will.
I'm learning to let that be okay, especially when it comes to losing people.
I think of whatwrites about the layers of grief:
There are pieces of ourselves that are expressed primarily through our different relationships. Different people bring out different parts of our personality and allow us to fill unique roles and relational dynamics. When we lose someone, we often experience a sense of lost identity as well. While the love is still there, it can no longer be expressed in the same way it used to be. It is a huge adjustment, and it, in and of itself, is a major thing to grieve.
When we lose people that matter to us, whether through death or the transitions of our life paths, we go through a grieving process that may cost us a piece of ourselves that we never fully recover.
We may eventually come to peace with that and accept the loss.
But it doesn't mean we don't continue to miss that person, or cease to feel what we've left behind.
Something I’ve come to practice accepting over time, which many folks in the “healing” realm might disagree with, is that some of us may carry certain wounds and fears and stories for a lifetime. Some of our hurts or existential aches may never fully dissipate, never fully go away, never fully “heal”. Not because we don’t work hard enough or haven’t micro-dosed enough or haven’t tried hard enough to do All The Right Things, but because that is the nature of being a human being, alive on a complicated planet, in bodies and brains that don’t always function in the ways we want them to. The nature of being human is being unable to control it all. Sometimes, being a person means a continual reckoning with the parts of ourselves we’ve come to wish away.
Lisa alludes to something I've been feeling more acutely of late.
There's a segment of the "healing" community that to me feels overly rooted in positivity and perfect outcomes.
What if we could accept that the pain might not go away?
What if we could surrender needing to control that outcome?
When we allow ourselves to let go of control, we can hold the space for the heartbreak and pain to leave — if they're meant to.
But when we cling to needing a perfectly positive end point about the hardship, we're trying to force it (and ourselves) to be a certain way.
That dishonors the emotions we're actually having.
It means being inauthentic and dishonest with ourselves.
Healing comes from a place of presence and honesty with our inner world.
Trying to pretend that things feel okay when they do not, and denying our own experience in order to try to make it so, does nothing but delay the possibility of reaching a place of healing.