This is just going to be another short one tonight, another little thought process. These two things sound so similar, and are often presented as the same thing by the way people tell me to “accept” (as I imagine some of you may feel).
One of the last things on the 5 stages of grief is acceptance. Usually, this is illustrated by someone coming to terms that someone he/she loves is now dead, isn’t coming back, and that his/her life is still going. In Unbroken, it involved an American POW from WWII realizing that he wasn’t “the broken man” his holders made him out to be. A friend told me just earlier tonight that it means accepting where I am now, and thinking about where I go from here.
I’ve been told, as I’m sure you have too, that I should just “get over it,” “it’s in the past; let it go,” and “stop being so melodramatic.” I’d been told this by abusers as well as “friends” and “good people.” This just seems to be the general attitude in the world. This isn’t acceptance, though. This is resignation. This is stuff people told us because they don’t want to see and/or deal with our pain, especially if they were at all responsible for inflicting it.
Now it’s incredibly hard for us to distinguish one from the other, isn’t it?
I was never allowed to be sad or angry. Now I can’t stop being sad or angry. If I stop being sad or angry, I feel like I’m betraying the girl I was, the hurt she endured. The times well-meaning people would tell me that the me that’s cutesy, cheerful is the real me likewise felt like a betrayal; I used to put on this cutesy, cheerful persona to hide and protect myself from abuse. Being told that my smile is my true face feels like I’m being told I’m wearing a mask again, that I’ve tricked even them…
I’d just want to get away. I’d been looking at places I could go, far away where no one will know me, and no one will find me. I reasoned the few people who still like me will eventually forget about me, and/or find someone better, less broken, to fill the space I occupy in their hearts. I wanted to go somewhere, anywhere so I would never have to have anything to do with my abusers, their dirty money, and their filthy lies ever again. Somewhere I can be free
…but I’d also be alone.
I was okay with this, too; I thought to myself how rotten humans are. The hatred I would be consumed with covers up the hurt I feel at all the hatred I’d been faced with in my life, especially when I gave love and support to these people who’d show me hatred. “They hated me, they will all hate me in time, so I’ll hate them all first!” That’s the logic, I guess. It’s not very good logic, is it?
I guess acceptance doesn’t mean settling. It doesn’t mean despair, or hating them before they hate me. Going back to the well analogy, I may be at the bottom of the well, but I don’t have to be there forever, right? I don’t like where I am. I don’t like that all these things happened. I don’t like how none of it was answered for. I don’t like that I was met with more cruelty and coldness than I was compassion. I don’t like that I have a sexuality/gender. I don’t like how I don’t have a family, and that people seem to prefer abusers and creeps over me. This doesn’t have to be how my story ends, with all these things I don’t like having the final say, right?
Acceptance, as it applies to other people, means respecting and loving them. You may not like everything about them, or agree, or understand. They may make you cry, and vice versa. There will be times that you will need to correct/inform them, and vice versa. There are people in my life like that who I not only accept, but hold dear.
It’s not fair what happened with the police, or with my family. It’s not right that they all got away with what they did, for me or for society. It wasn’t at all Christ-like for so many people in the Church to abuse and/or reject me. It’s not good that my abusers send me money to try to get me to owe them something, or to cover up their abuse by throwing money at me. It isn’t idealistic for me to be struggling so much with just making the bills, the economy in this state being very bad.
It wasn’t in God’s plan for me to be abused. That’s not what He made me for. None of these things are what He had in mind for me. I still blamed Him. I still hated Him. I demanded He make it right to me, give me a reason to forgive Him for letting all this bad happen to me, for having me be born to my parents, for never protecting me when I still cried for help, and for letting my pursuit of justice and friendship break into sharp, jagged pieces before my eyes. But my life, all our lives are not predestined. I still don’t know if I fully forgive all these things He allowed to happen to me, but I can’t imagine He feels happy or self-righteous about how my life has gone.
“Where you are is not who you are.”
I’m not this well. I’m not the darkness or the mud, or whatever filth might be down here with me. These bad things aren’t me. These broken things aren’t me.
But this is where I am.
All these things I don’t like is still the reality. It shouldn’t be, but it is.
But that’s not how it has to be forever, right?
If I run away, I’ll never know. If I try to remake myself in any way that covers up the truth with something I’d prefer, I’ll never know who I can really be. My parents liked to move us around and start over, almost once a year. They were running away, too. Never worked. It always came with us. Everything was still just as broken as it was before we moved.
…If my abusers were ever held accountable, what would’ve changed? I’d still believe in justice, for one. I’d still believe that morality still matters. God’s being perfect and purposely powerless to our wills (so it’d be free) wouldn’t seem so much like abusive unaccountability and enabling. Maybe. Who knows.
I have to go to sleep early tonight. Just thought I’d close this little reflection with this thought:
Say a forest burnt down. This forest was loved by all, home to so many plants, animals, and yes, people. It was horrifically bad that the forest was burnt down; at best, everything that lived there has lost their home, at worst, they lost their lives. But…a little white flower was found still alive and growing in the ashes. The presence of this flower doesn’t cancel out the bad…but it reminds its discoverer what the forest’s true nature is (green, alive, and growing, not this burning, dead place), and that it can be that way again.
So too with me…?