My Journey to Self Acceptance
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em
My guess is that I am getting ready to die. I am the salmon who has swum back to the place where she was born. The funny thing about thoughts like these is that I do not feel suicidal in the least. I have never been happier or more content than I am right at this moment. My son is doing homework and allowing me to stay in MY office while HE works on HIS homework. The whispering of the overhead fan feels engaging in the same way a young girl’s flirtatious sighs once did. Sam’s breathing, and his hunt and pecking sing “Job Well Done” to my beginning senior ears.
What thought! People who have followed my blog articles know that I am a Choice Theorist. The first axiom of Choice Theory states that the “only behavior we can control is our own” (Glasser, 1998) .The behavior I am currently working on is “accepting behavior”. I have come to understand that accepting is a verb. Verbs are behaviors. Accepting me, therefore, is a wonderful gift that I have finally decided give to myself. I am beautiful. I am wise. I am talented. I have guided fabulous students and have had the privilege of raising not one, but two gracious families. I just have not accepted myself- until today.
I accept my flabby body, because it is the body I was meant to have. It may not be perfect, but it suits me just fine. It has gotten me through abuse, and neglect and divorce and spiritual warfare. I know I have made the choices that have gotten me to flabbiness. I accept them without self recrimination. I am who I am because of what I have done. I went camping with twelve year olds instead of spending hours sculpting my abs. I worked two jobs so that my offspring could go to vacations instead of dealing with gym memberships. So what? So I have a legacy of people who are stronger because of the good and the bad examples I set.
This is wonderful stuff, except that the only person I did not accept was me! All the work, all the sacrifice never felt satisfying because I forgot that I was living for others and not for me. I have recently come to the realization that living for others is a tremendous gift that can be presented to everyone I meet. Acepting that I am living for others puts life in a very different perspective. I no longer feel unfulfilled be things my egowanted me to accomplish. Whatever I finish from this point on, if done in a conscious way to gift others, allows me to feel complete.
I have also recently accepted, in a very real way, that Jesus is my Lord, Savior and Role Model. When I think of Jesus, I feel like I am finally at a point where I can follow Him, because I am finally at a point where living for others means accepting who I am without being bashful, or embarrassed about my own self. I don’t live with shame any more. I don’t need to improve. I don’t need perfection. I am more than a body. I am a spirit who offers love to those I encounter. I am a whispering fan who provides coolness when there is heat. I gift others with calm when there is jagged violence.
How does any of this relate to Choice Theory?The only thing I really have to give other folks is information. As I have gotten older, I have come to accept information is more than facts. It is more than a list of how tos. Information can be memories, it can be feelings of gratitude that wash over one after a good meal. It can be example.
When I was a young gun, I felt angry that the people around me could not understand that I had all the answers. I could not appreciate why the world would not crown me as the next great thing. “If they could only see it my way!” I screamed. “What is wrong with you morons that you can’t undertand that I have the solutions to the problems that have not been posed yet?”
Over time I have come to understand that people don’t learn from the old folks. I didn’t. My parents didn’t. That’s the way of the world. The quote about “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”? Santayana was on to something. The only problem with his idea, is that no one learns from history. So, why not accept that we are flawed. We are fallen. Life feels so much better these days, as I have come to grips with the concept of being imperfect.
I have worked my entire life on helping others relate to each other. I have been a failure most of the time. Why? Simply put, I never knew that “psychological problems are really relationship problems.” (Glasser 1998).I have studied Choice Theory. I have tried to live with Choice Theory as my worldly guide. There is a tiny issue with teaching concepts that you don’t fully grasp. You CAN’T TEACH THEM!
I have come to learn that I can not ‘be’ anything unless I accept that I am flawed. An unfolding of wisdom has come to me in the knowledge that I am imperfect and still I am loved. I may not be loved by my wife, or my children, or people in my world, but I am loved by a God of grace and understanding. I am loved by a universe that holds me in the palm of its hand.THAt universe was created by the same God who created me! Simply amazing. I am surrounded by a feather quilt of energy that warms me if only I access its gentleness.
So let’s do the logic for a minute. Let’s assume there is a God. Call him whatever you want. Call him ‘nothing’ if that makes you happy. If there is a God, then there is the possibliity of some something who loves us, no questions asked. How’s that for a mind blower? There just may be a possibility that there is love beyond anything imaginable. There just may be acceptance by someone or something, even if I am less than perfect. So why not make the leap and say, “who am I to say that I am smarter than, greater than, better than, the God who created me, who created every, single thing I see, I use, I encounter?” Doesn’t make sense that I could be that bad that I could not accept myself, if the God who made me could accept me. Putting this in New Age terms, giving up to the original cause of one’s being may, just may, lead to self acceptance.
The enlightening idea for me is that none of these possibilities are in th realm of questions. These are indisputable facts, for my own self. There is a God. He loves me as a daddy loves his first born child. He wants what’s best for me. He provides everything I need. Of course I am a child, thus, there I times when I know better than my Dad. HE lets me fall and scrape my knees, but He is always, always there to pick me up, brush me off, and set me on my way to the next adventure. I find it funny that although I tell my own children “I told you so”. My heavenly dad never does this. He tells me “I love you no matter how bad you screw up.” That feels good.
I think back to when I was a kid, and I was told “Don’t quit!” “Nobody respects a quitter!” How wrong was that! How right was that! I never quit shaming myself and still I hated myself. I refused to quit beating up on myself, and for twenty years, I missed myself. I never gave up on reminding myself of how God awful I turned out and I was left alone in a cardboard box of guilt, freezing on a corner of self loathing, while having raindrops of attitude piss make me wet and cold.
I accept that the past is always going to be with me. I embrace it like a friend who comes in and out of my life at times when I think I am the cat’s meow, the dog’s snore, the queen of Sheeba, the most important thing on Earth. My friend reminds me that thoughts like these and $2.00 will get me cup of coffee. Wrongo, it’s $2.39 at the truck stop.
My reminders are efforts to satisfy my need for love and belonging. They are my best attempt to feel that warmth that comes with the knowledge that I am important just because I am alive. The contributions I make to the saga of life don’t have to be world shaking to be significant.
What is the bottom line? I am loved because I exist. I am important because I have existed. Acceptance feels good, for today. Tomorrow, maybe I will conquer the world.