Acceptance was the word of the day (Ahhhh! (Pee-wee’s Playhouse fans, anyone?)) at the AA meeting I attended yesterday. It was introduced so well by one of the members, even though it was an impromptu subject due to the scheduled speaker not being there. I was so impressed by the woman who brought up the idea of acceptance, as well as the story she told about her own journey and how she found herself in a place where she needed to accept her situation and identity as an alcoholic, otherwise her life would continue to run in the shit-storm it was already well entrenched in.
I was humbled that this woman would share her story so openly in such a crowded room. I related to so much of what she said because there were so many poor choices and bad situations she put herself in as a result of her alcoholism. What resonated with me from her story was her determination to not see her alcoholism in any way, shape, or form, her habit of blaming everyone and everything else around her before looking inward at herself, as well as her anger and denial when she first began her journey towards sobriety. So many of her challenges were mine as well. In her speaking and sharing, what a gift she gave to so many of us – what a gift she gave to me.
So, going back to the original inspiration for the AA meeting, what is acceptance? According to Wictionary, here are a few of the official definitions…
Noun: acceptance (plural acceptances)
- The act of accepting; a receiving of something offered, with approbation, satisfaction, or acquiescence; especially, favorable reception; approval
the acceptance of a gift, office, doctrine, etc.
- Belief in something; agreement; assent.
- State of being accepted.
So, first off. I am struck by the idea that within the meaning of ‘acceptance’ lies the hidden meaning of receiving the something in a positive way. So often, I think I am accepting that things are the way they are, but that I don’t have to be happy with them, I just have to realize they are what they are. But no! True acceptance is positive in nature. Hm. Food for thought.
Second, looking at the italicized example above, acceptance could possibly turn The Thing To Be Accepted (TTTBA) into a positive thing as well, even if TTTBA started out as a (hugely vicious, horrible, life-altering, scary, horrific) negative. This is complete conjecture and I realize I am projecting my wishes on this definition now, but I also like the ‘spin’ it adds.
What do you think of the following hypothesis, my friends? … By accepting TTTBA, it becomes a positive because we make room for it in our lives. We give it space. We see it for what it is. And, we give it room to be what it is. By not squelching or squishing or stomping TTTBA down, it becomes less of a problem because my energy and focus is not drawn to quieting it every minute of every day. Yes, TTTBA exists, but instead of focusing on it, now I have all this time to do and explore other things, while TTTBA lives in its corner and doesn’t bother me as much as when it was my whole world.
So, taking the picture as metaphor (and taking me as the snail (and taking the little flower as my addiction)), yes, my alcoholism exists, but look at how much larger the world is around me! I might be visiting my addiction for a minute, noticing it, giving it a little nudge with one of my sober-tools, but I’m not trapped in it, nor am I surrounded by it. My life is not only the flower. My life is wider and bigger and richer than just the flower.
Going into the second definition… ‘a belief in something; agreement; assent’ ….. It took me a long-ass time to come to terms with my alcoholism. And honestly? Some days it is still a challenge. However? On the days when I am able to remind myself to stay in the moment and to take ‘one day at a time,’ then that internal struggle of believing I am an alcoholic or not disappears. It is what it is. I am what I am. (Who said that?) And for today, I will not drink. Agreed. Accepted. It is true. Let it be so.
(Gah. I find it so much easier not to fight against my alcoholism. I have so much more energy now than I ever did inside of my addiction.)
Lastly, and most challenging, is for me to live in a state of acceptance. I am working on it, as I said. And most days, things are good. Things are what they are. I don’t fight against the current. I sail with it. (How many metaphors can this post hold, I wonder?) I reach for my sparkling water, and/or my M&Ms, and sometimes I seek time alone, but mostly? I am happy sailing along…
Day 68, starting my day with coffee & cuddles. C’est parfait.*