There is much talk of seasonal depression this time of year, as we face days of lengthening darkness. It can feel like a tightening coil twisting inside of your chest as the stress and unrelenting thoughts compound themselves. The most common reaction I used to have to this time of year was: “Show Me The Way Outta Here!!” I felt trapped in the darkness that exacerbated my inner feelings of isolation. The more I tried to escape it, the worse the barrage of torment became.
That which I seek to ignore within myself becomes stronger. It is only through the courage to face my pain that I become free.
This is the paradox of healing – the only way to recover and heal is to face the pain that we have tried to avoid for as long as we can remember. I tried every means I could to avoid journeying into the pain. Some of these coping methods helped me to survive and restore a sense of dignity and self-worth, yet others were absolutely tearing me apart. I typify my years prior to finally finding the courage to heal by this analogy – I was living my life on 2 separate pathways, which were in direct proportion to each other. The one was dedicated to service to humanity, and the second was dedicated to self-destruction. These 2 roads only increased as the years progressed. I had to make grander and grander gestures in my efforts to prove I had worth in order to justify the anesthetic coping methods I had adopted.
There is nothing shameful about having unhealthy coping skills. The more ashamed or guilty I have been about the ways I coped, the harder I found it to change them. It is as if through accepting myself, where I am at, regardless of what I have done, I become free to grow. I want you to know that you are not a bad person for doing whatever you’ve had to do to survive. It has been necessary in my recovery for me to entrust my story of survival to someone. To keep it hidden within me caused me to rot from the inside out. You do not have to hide anymore.
I am not telling you that the transformation from shame to freedom will happen today, or next week, or next year. In fact I will not tell you the time frame at all. It would be presumptuous of me to assume that I could predict how and when the miracle of your healing will take place. Transformation is a personalized process. I feel each person has the right to follow their own path and means of healing, rather than have it dictated and directed for them.
What does that short 2 word phrase bring up for you? I can tell you how it used to feel for me when someone told me to “get over it,” “accept it and move on,” or other such completely unhelpful bits of advice. I would feel the heat of anger and resentment rise up from my chest at the audacity of someone to think that they had permission to tell me how or when I’d be able to deal with what had happened in my life. I felt like they didn’t want to have to deal with me, my feelings, or my story. I thought their main motivation for demanding I deal with “my shit” was because they felt uncomfortable being around my feelings and my struggle.
Today I can say to those same people, “yeah, ok…I will accept it or get over it…when it’s ready to be accepted.” I don’t have to fight someone else to make room for myself and my healing. I take the time and space for my process that I need. It is part of the pathway of recovery to learn to recognize what our needs are and how to lay claim to them.
A Guided Audio Meditation on Self-Acceptance
Please share your experiences and challenges with self-acceptance. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
© Amanda Lee