Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Gift of Acceptance

When I was growing up, I was in survival mode.  I spent a lot of time just making it from one day to the next without drawing attention to myself.  I didn't think I deserved anything good because I was told I deserved the opposite. I was the heir to a generational curse that began two to three generations back - one that sprang from poverty at the turn of the 20th century and the subsequent depression.  My parents (especially my mother) were bullied as children and never got away from the bullies - who had kids who in turn bullied me.  Of course, so did my mom, but that is a different story.  

As a result, friends were hard to come by.  I rarely had any friends, because hardly anybody wanted to befriend someone with a bull's eye painted on her back.  (Those that did, already had targets on their backs.)  And because friends were so scarce (I never had any more than 3 friends at a time and even then, not until high school), the title of "best friend" became fiercely competitive, sought after, and a source of great distress if someone else won it. It left the others feeling like losers. Less than.  Rejected.  The next step in that parade was that the one who chose a different best friend would eventually gravitate away from me, get other interests, move on and leave me friendless. 


After I married and moved away, that mentality followed me.  Any friendships I had were with one, at the most three people at once. And I cringed every time one of my friends referred to another person as his or her "best friend".   To me, it meant that I wasn't good enough.  That I was being rejected.  That I would be abandoned.  

When I got into recovery from codependency back in February 2009, I learned a whole new lifestyle - a lifestyle of letting go with love.  Much of that lifestyle is based on accepting what is - and that is something that I cannot manufacture. 

It is a gift.  It's a gift I pray for and that God gives.  I don't have it in me to accept what I can't change.  In fact, everything in me rails against it.  I STILL cringe when I hear a friend say that someone else is their best friend.  It triggers all those old feelings and fears in me, feelings of inadequacy, and fears of rejection and abandonment ... even though I know that it's probably not true.  I pray for the strength to accept and I pray for the acceptance itself.  And I have to keep praying for it - because it kind of leaks out or gets used up, I haven't figured out exactly which. 

But acceptance is the key to enjoying today (that is, not letting the 'what ifs' rob me of being happy today), the key to evicting stress from my life.  Once I started (with God's help) accepting that other people not only make their own choices but are supposed to do so without my input, and to bear the consequences of their own actions without me rescuing them, the burden of caring for them in that unhealthy way ...  just lifted. 

It doesn't mean that I'm not ready to lend a hand when God asks that of me.  It just means that I no longer consider myself obligated to do so "just because" I'm that person's spouse / mother / sister / daughter / friend. I'm learning that I am me and that everyone has boundaries, including me.  Crossing those boundaries without permission is a recipe for disaster.  

It also means that I can be okay with my friends having other friends that they consider closer to them than they consider me to be.  Any success I have on that front is more a function of how well I like myself rather than how much they like me, anyway. If I keep focused on accepting people, places and things as they are, praying for the serenity to do so - I fare better.  I don't go off pinging into the danger zone and sabotaging relationships that are important to me by giving in to my fears.  I LET.  With God's empowerment ("to want to, and to do"), I let life happen to me, and accept it on its own terms.  

It's His gift to me.  And that is a gift for which I am repeatedly grateful.

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