It sounds possible: to be in acceptance and yet, it is hard to stay there. This is how it was for me; I watched my life go down the tubes. I was so low, I had no more defenses, reasons, rationalizations. I was tired of trying to make everything seem okay. It wasn’t. I was a mess. I needed to accept that I was an addict and my life had become unmanageable.
This acceptance happened once, when I gave up drugs and alcohol. Then, I relapsed on drugs. The acceptance had slipped away. The demoralization had to happen again and I am very lucky it did. I had to re-accept that I am an addict and an alcoholic. On this point, there has been no dithering. I have been clean and sober since then.
As I moved into recovery, life showed up—not just the chaos I’d created while I was using, drinking; betraying friends, stealing, and denying my kids an ethical, reliable, caring mom. I created so much chaos when I was using there was no way to find that life acceptable.
When I found recovery, I thought all would be well! I would no longer be challenged by what I deemed unacceptable situations. Not! Life showed up. Getting a job, being fired from a job, finding an apartment, having difficulty with the rent, not to mention the changes in relationships which occur when you are there—sober and present. Everything didn’t go my way. There were days when nothing went my way. On one hand, the kids loved that I was present and, on the other hand, they couldn’t run the house anymore. They were angry. Life showed up big time.
I had to accept that. I had to accept that I was going to have to grow up and that the world was not going to bow down to me just because I had stopped drinking and using. I got used to that reality and acceptance eased the pain.
The longer I am in recovery, the more big kid things come up that renew my acceptance skills: ill and dying parents, grown children with their life issues (including addiction), the aging of my body. Acceptance.
Changes in household circumstances, income and job. Developing boundaries in my relationships, some of which cost me the relationship. Acceptance.
How do you do it? How do you accept? I’ve discovered that I only ever find acceptance whenever I face my limits of resistance. I don’t want my parents to be ill! My resistance did nothing to change that. When I accepted the situation, I could be of service in a compassionate way. When I stopped resisting my son’s way of finding a drug-free life, I could accept his path. When I stopped resisting my own aging (the changes in my abilities and looks) I could accept the fact that this happens to us all, and resistance is futile.
As a person of yoga, I use my breath to help me take a moment—a pause—to disengage from my wants and griefs and just bask in what is. I hold the present moment where everything is alright. Inhale, exhale, slowly and evenly with calm and care. The next thing I know, I am in the hands of my higher power, and the way is clear.
Over and over, I resist, but for shorter and shorter periods of time. I use my breath. I take a break. Eventually I accept (people, places and things) and, just when I least expect it, I find gratitude.