You can radically accept, in order to change
We all know the old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Today, this phrase could be replaced with, “Until I Google it, does it exist?”
An honest look at my own Googling over the years harshly exposes my reality – questions like,
“What is postpartum depression?”
“How often should I be having sex with my husband?”
“Am I an alcoholic?”
“Signs my husband is cheating.”
“Best meditations to heal a friend.”
And the most recent search – “How to JUST LET GO”
That last one turned up nothing helpful. I guess Google doesn’t work so well for my spiritual and ethereal ponderings.
Still, once I Google how to do something, it feels real. Typing my question or desire into the box feels hopeful at first. I’m about to solve my problem because it’s GOOGLE and it knows EVERYTHING, right?
What I really want is for Google to pat me on the back and tell me everything will be ok. Because by the time I make it to that little box on my computer, I already know the answer. I know I am addicted. I know I am depressed. I know my marriage is damaged.
It’d be nice if Google just said, “Yes, Molly, you can accept this. And, you can take the necessary steps to let it go.”
Radical acceptance is not passive. In hitting any bottom, the first step is always acceptance, but that doesn’t mean I stand still.
When change is necessary, we will feel rocked, shaken, uncomfortable and unready – actually, probably very unready. We want to hide – and there are oh-so-many great hiding places – anger, isolation, addiction, self-righteousness, pain, illness, rumination, gossip, lashing out on social media, blame, and of course, self-loathing. Anything to avoid the unbearable squeeze of change looming, and the knowledge that it is up to us to do something about it if we want to stop feeling this way.
The paradox of believing ourselves to be special, while misunderstanding our impact as individuals, points to our denial of the collective whole. No matter how gracefully a wave rolls amazingly into shore, or how haphazardly it veers off course, it has no consequence to the ocean. Yet it remains part of the ocean. Our desire to see ourselves as different is what keeps us separate. We are no different from anyone else – we are all capable. We are all worthy. And we are all affected. Our current president is merely a mirror for us to see the flaws and ugliness within ourselves. This is hard to take – is our society really this racist? This sexist? This fearful?? Yes, as we all have painfully seen, we are.
And now that we see it, we can’t turn away. This is bottom. This is awareness.
When you hit bottom, one option is isolation and denial. It’s not that bad. I’m only one person. I’ll let the world go on like this, while I stay home, raising strong boys and girls. My girls will know self-worth and my boys will be feminists. (Problem solved.)
And bravo – because it does start in one heart, in one home, in one woman making the choice to raise empowered women and unbroken men inside a culture of inequality and oppression. It takes our personal mission as well as our undeniable place within the whole.
The incredible catastrophe that has been the last 2 years is palpable. The crash and subsequent shrapnel is much worse than I ever anticipated. I denied that one man held such power. I denied that one man embodied such hate. I overlooked the ripple effect of abuse and negativity – my denial at its ugliest and most dangerous.
It’s much easier to adapt than to radically accept, but not without consequences. We stay in toxic relationships when it’s apparent to everyone else that we should leave. We cling to bad habits, afraid to give them up. We allow white privilege to remain part of our history and our politics. We say it doesn’t impact us – we’re not racist. But every single one of us, regardless of race or gender, has been affected. It’s our reality, and it’s comfortable because it’s all we know. But eventually, something snaps. Eventually, there is a bottom. Eventually, the thought dawns on you – maybe I’m worth it? Maybe I don’t need to adapt inside an oppressive society or an abusive relationship? Maybe I don’t need to wake up every day feeling regret from the night before?
Is it possible something better awaits? A healthier relationship, a just society, an acceptance of what is and what needs to change? I’ve tried, and believe me, Google doesn’t have the answer. Resources to fix my problem - maybe.
But when I take a hard honest look in the mirror, and I don’t like what I see, maybe then I’ll actually be motivated to take the necessary action that will effect change. Maybe then I’ll finally accept, radically and compassionately. Because we are all worth it.