The first time I saw those words I was waiting to cross the street in front of my childhood home. My heart was heavy. I live in a hell that I couldn’t get out. Everywhere I turned was misery. I felt helpless and terrified most of the time. I was 105 pounds and 5’6. There was nothing healthy in any sense of the word happening. I hated – no I loathed – my mother’s new boyfriend. And for really good reason. He was AWFUL. He was gross. He made me feel small and wounded even more than my mother already had. I had turned to a wise older friend for many years and on this particular day she sent me the advice of Sugar aka Cheryl Strayed aka one of my now favorite writers. I remember clinging to the words with all the hope of a survivor in a life raft. I was dessssperate.
Almost 8 years later I look at the note on my phone where I saved the words that changed my life. Acceptance is a small quiet room. Acceptance is not taking shit. Acceptance is not resigning myself to a life of monkhood. Acceptance is not bawling my eyes out every night. Acceptance is showing up today for my fucking repressed feelings. Acceptance is coming to terms with the fact that yup I have a problem with alcohol and commitment and intimacy. Acceptance is going to a professional and saying those words aloud and trying not to worry how I sound. Acceptance is not making some grand statement about change and relishing in a pretty bow on the ending of every blog post because this is my life and I don’t even own a bow let alone have enough energy to insert one into every life lesson. Cause sometime life lessons suck. Big time. And I’m still alive and sober and breathing and I can also feel my pain and feel raw and allow myself to just sit. There’s no shortcut through healing. We don’t get to the other side by a nice tidy raft. We walk. Usually alone. With a lot of self-doubt plagued by every other time it didn’t work out. This time I walk with a little bit of a whisper in my ear. I’m not in fact alone. Because if I was I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be okay. I wouldn’t feel safe and loved a lot of the time.
Acceptance is a small quiet room. It’s an understanding that today is where I need to be. That one day this helpless period of sadness and depression and loneliness will add up to something beautiful. There’s a scene in Love Warrior when the author Glennon Doyle Melton is talking to her God who’s sitting in the corner knitting. She’s telling her all the horrible ugly truths of her life. And she’s getting really frustrated that God just keeps knitting. Like what the fuck God? And then she takes a closer look and she realizes that God is knitting her life. Of course.
On the ugliest saddest loneliest days I think about my God knitting. Rocking back and forth. Working on the tapestry of my life. And literally a feel a pop in my sternum and I breathe.