Radical Acceptance

“I have worked with many clients and students who reach a critical gateway when they finally register just how much pain they are in. This juncture is very different from self-pity or complaining about our lives. It is different from focussing on how many problems we have. Rather, seeing and feeling the degree of suffering we are living with reconnects us to our heart.” Tara Brach

Today I stopped and looked at a picture of my dead husband, Tom. I looked right at it like I have every day, although every day I do not really see it.

Today I paused and, like Tara mentions, I fully realized the extent of suffering I have been experiencing since he died.  In my mind I clearly heard “the only thing I want in life is you, back”…the ONLY thing.

I have been looking for meaning in life, for things to get excited about, for reasons to continue day to day. I have found many, and I am so grateful that I have because I would be dead if I had not.

I have  also been living in a terrible trance, in a story that I have told myself.  The story is about how I must go on, how he is dead and I am alive and I must make meaning of this life.  I felt that way while I was drinking but alcohol allowed me to just FEEL that way and do nothing real about it. Since I quit I have done some things that have led to helping me  be more content with life, and I have found meaning.

But it has been a trance, a story of life, one I have needed  and created to survive.

Today I told the truth. Today I saw that there is nothing in life I look forward to. Nothing I need. Nothing I want.

I opened myself to that knowing and that truth, which I have been trying to escape from in one way or another ever since he died.

There is nothing I want in life any longer.

I have to keep stopping myself from thinking that sounds crazy or wrong or defeated…I don’t think it is any of things. It is an honest appraisal of where I am in this exact moment in time. I paused at the picture and in that pause the truth was revealed to me. The truth of my suffering. And the truth about all the stories I have told myself since he died. All the stories, all of which were not lies, there was truth there, but forced and more reliant on what I should be doing or feeling rather than what I  actually was. I complained a lot, and have felt  very, very sorry for myself. This is different, this acknowledgment, this allowing.

I am not crying right now,  I don’t feel sad, actually quite the opposite. I feel calmer and clearer than I have in a long time. I understand what has been driving me in such a completely different way, and I accept it fully. I don’t think I have ever accepted it fully. Not his death,  that is pretty hard to be in any kind of denial about, but the fact that I want him to not be dead.  I have judged that. I have sat in regret for things I have said or done prior to his death and since, things that I judged as “not right”. I have tried so many different ways to re-engage in life in a meaningful way, and I have, I have succeeded in many areas. I am in love with my yoga and mindfulness practice, meditation…it has allowed me to see the truth of my situation. I love working  in my grief groups. I am grateful to be sober and help others as I can . I adore my friends. I love to travel. There is so much in life that I cherish and love, especially  now with a clearer mind.

But there is nothing I need or want.

I find myself very sanguine about certain things. The  yoga challenge I couldn’t do because I hurt my back. The trip I keep starting to plan and then stop because I don’t now where I want to go. Writing (or publishing) a new post on here. Binge watching TV which has become my latest passion and which I always considered a colossal waste of time. Not leaving the house for a few days. Not making plans, or wiggling out at the last moment. Food choices that don’t make me feel my best.

I have not acknowledged the depth of my suffering, and today I see it squarely, clearly. Laser focussed. I do know that I would not be seeing this if I had not been on a path that would lead me to this point, and I am grateful for that.

What does that mean?

“Recognizing  that we are suffering is freeing — self-judgement falls away and we can regard ourselves with kindness. When we offer ourselves  the same quality of unconditional friendliness that we would offer to a friend, we stop denying our suffering ”

I hope it is freeing, this acknowledgement and acceptance.

I hope that, like Tara says, it will reconnect me with my heart. That my true heart will reconnect me back into the world. I’m not sure what to expect. But I am grateful to finally acknowledge this truth, this place of true suffering that I live from.

I’m already judging it and having to let those thoughts go, let them go. I haven’t posted here in over a month, and writing has been a joy for me, but I have stumbled.  I have started many a post and they have felt awkward and false, and that’s not what I want to do here. I don’t see any point in that. I may not know what I want but I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to lie anymore, to not tell the truth, to continue to believe anything other than what IS. I don’t want to live in a story that is my life, I want to live in my life.

I have no idea what that means, seriously.

You know what? I WANT to find out though.




Add yours →

  1. runningonsober July 4, 2014 — 4:30 pm

    Big love… xo

    Remember this?:

    This one too:

    The book “Thirst” by Mary Oliver too.

    But mostly this:

    Many would say if you are free of attachment, of want and need, then you are free of suffering. This path, this understanding, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Not at all… It sounds like acceptance to me. And it also sounds incredibly hopeful to me.

    “Then you hold life like a face
    between your palms, a plain face,
    no charming smile, no violet eyes,
    and you say, yes, I will take you
    I will love you, again.”

    • Thank you, and yes I remember them all, so beautiful.
      It;s interesting…I drove to a friends home tonite for dinner and fireworks and thought on the way there about what I had written. I also thought about it on the way home, because i intended to re-read, add, edit and then post.
      See, I hit publish instead of save earlier tonite.

      What I wanted to add was along the lines of what you wrote…the freedom in acceptance and non-attachment. The freedom in being ready for whatever will come and not afraid of any of it. Learning how to live completely in the space of what is, fully surrendered to that. The HOPE that is there. After all the need and want and fear and judgement, the place of hope, of heart opening and of loving THIS life.

      love YOU!

  2. runningonsober July 4, 2014 — 4:32 pm

    (Replied hon but I think it may have gone to spam or pending because I included 3 links.)

  3. You write it well, Mish. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to experience this….but as you write it, I begin to understand it a little better. This grief thing is so powerful and so all encompassing. A dear friend is feeling much this way after the loss of her son a little over 8 months ago. Today was perhaps, her worst day yet. I try to be there but there are times I fail. I hope that your writing it helps you. I know it helps to educate those of us who haven’t been in your shoes but want to understand and be helpful, so thank you for sharing.

    • I was talking to a friend the other day about this very subject.
      What do you say, what can you say?
      I have pretty good feeling it would be impossible for you to fail katherine.
      I’m going to try and distill some thoughts about this and write about it.

  4. love you and your honesty

  5. If only you knew how often you cross my mind and the days I wonder “how you do it.”
    How many times I wish I could take your pain away. Times I wonder what happens when you look at Tom’s picture. I love you for sharing such a personal time in your life and the bravery it took to do so.
    I think it’s so cool that you hit “publish” instead of save…I have my own theory about why that happened 😉
    Much love and hugs across the virtual space. xo

  6. I love the sheer honesty and calmness of this post. And you beat me to the punch about non-attachment. That was all I could think about while I was reading your moving post. I think coming to that place is wonderful. To others it might sound absurd – I don’t need or want. I just am. To be detached from so much of the things that almost always bring us into darker places or just weigh us down, ego- and pride-laden objects and thoughts…what a gift. And I truly mean that.

    I also love what you said about being brought here, to this moment, by the pain and suffering on our journey. That is why I can say that I am a grateful alcoholic. I am grateful that I got arrested and put into the bottoms that I did, because without them I wouldn’t be here…on this journey that brings me to you and to so many others and on my path. And I wouldn’t be here at this very moment taking in the depth of your words and taking somethinga away that will further and deepen my own journey.

    Thank you for this, and yeah, published by “accident”.

    Sure. Something’s hand moved yours there.


    • thanks Paul….

      this book I am reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach (and which I have read before) is hitting all the right spots right now…
      obviously ready to get it, yes?

      always appreciate your support

  7. I’m here and listening.

  8. I’ve been circling around a realization lately that this reminds me of. It’s a long held belief that my feelings are so powerful that they have the power over life and death and therefore must be contained. For you to be able to acknowledge your suffering, acknowledge where you are at this moment and the world doesn’t stop spinning – it sounds freeing. It sounds like the ultimate form of self trust. I’m going to have go get this book! xxoo

    • This book is amazing.
      I read it before, but I didn’t get what I am getting from it now.
      I so relate to your feelings…it is freeing to let go of that control, that IDEA we have that we control anything, even our own feelings.

  9. I really really really love this post and am so grateful you published instead of saved. Somehow I think it saved anyway. xoxoxo

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