It is in our acceptance of our flaws that we become flawless. It is in the acceptance of our failures that we release ourselves from the mentality of failing. Acceptance is a very powerful tool that can release us from past trauma, guilt, shame and fear. How?
We all have certain experiences, traumas, personality traits, failures, guilt and aspects of ourselves that we find unacceptable. We are embarrassed that we failed, that we crashed, we feel guilty that we hurt someone or ashamed that we did something unbecoming. And we spent years, even decades hiding those icky feelings from the outside world. Where did we put them? Inside ourselves, where no one could find them. After all, that is the only place where no one can look. For a while it feels safe because no one can make us access that secret data bank of ugly situations and uncomfortable feelings we bottled up inside ourselves. But, life has a way of throwing curve balls, and one of them is bound to hit and send us into a downward spiral.
It all happened a few years ago when my life came to a screeching halt. A few consecutive personal and family disasters threw me into depression. I wrote about this period of my life before, and why I chose to face depression and those buried parts of myself head on, without drugs. That story got me a lot of criticism in the private forum and via this blog, when someone declared that I was advising people to not take medicine for depression. No, I simply stated that it was my personal choice, and I am in no way advising anyone to do that.
So, why did I face depression without drugs? Because I knew that there was something within me that I had to face and deal with. As painful as it was, I knew that I could no longer afford to ignore those aspects of myself. I knew that drugs would dull my senses, and that they could make me feel better, but I also knew that there was a lot within me that I could not unearth with dulled senses. I am a very introspective person. I have been meditating for 15 years, and learned that most of my answers are within. Now I was facing something excruciatingly painful, but having released pain before with my mind, I knew that whatever monster was inside me, I had to face all by myself. It was my own rational decision. No one guided me into rejecting drugs or therapy, I decided to explore my own abyss, to find that person I have been hiding, to deal with those emotions I have been erasing, to get to the bottom of me.
For me, depression was a life altering experience, especially the long, painful crawl out of it. I learned so much about myself in that grueling shadow that I choose to write about it. Looking back, the events that lead to my depression weren’t so important, these things happen to everyone. But those events forced me to face the fact that my current reality does not allow me to hide any longer. Life was exposing my past failures, disappointments, toxic beliefs and I had no say in it. Suddenly my mask was cracking, and that perfectly nice and polite me who loves everyone, now had a bruised and battered ego. It was time for it to go, it could no longer cover me.
I panicked that no one would like that highly flawed version of me. Who could possibly want to be friends with me now? I was embarrassed about my stupidity, recklessness, arrogance, irresponsibility, failures, imbalance- you name it, I had a problem with it. Who could accept this version of me? I certainly could not. It felt awful to look at myself and my own darkness. It was ugly.
Most people pretend they do not have a dark side. But there is no yin without the yang, we all exist in duality. Well, depression was my face off with my dark side. My facade cracked and shattered into a million pieces, and my ego was deeply wounded by what it was now staring at- that highly flawed, unacceptable me. The real me was the most painful thing I ever had to face, I had to look in the mirror and face the monster, and admit that this was the me I was refusing to acknowledge all my life. I was one giant, tarnished, rusty, toxic, deeply flawed mess of a human being who was a disappointment to everyone, most of all to herself.
Unfortunately, there is no quick way to deal with depression. It’s like someone turned off the lights, and you find yourself alone in a musty, dark basement having to face those monsters you feared so much as a child that lived in a shadowy corner. Oh, they’re real. No one ever tells you that the monsters are you. You put them there, and if you want a clean slate, you have to clean up your own mess.
Depression hurts. It really, really hurts. I can’t think of anything in this life that hurts more, so I sympathize with people going through it. It’s a long, dark labyrinth, and all of us are afraid of the dark. Rather than dwell on the pain, I’d rather tell you how I found my way out. Acceptance.
As I battled my own monsters for months and months, I grew weaker and weaker. I reached the point where I was fighting my own shadow and losing. I was so tired. I really wanted to give up. As I laid in bed, exhausted, covered in snot and tears I admitted to myself that there is no way out. There’s no way that can I return to the world as myself. That version of me is expired, and gone forever. My world now was the size of a coffin. And it really felt comfy in there. It’s small and safe, maybe I’ll just stay here. Who would miss this mess of a human being?
I started to feel more comfortable in my dark coffin, in fact that was the place I would mentally go to feel safe and feel some relief from the depression. It felt so good and peaceful to be in there, that I decided I’ll just stay here. In fact, when life was unbearable, I would check out, and go into my mental coffin to find some relief. This isn’t so bad. My world is much darker and smaller, but I am okay here.
In that safe spot I started to look at my ugly face in the mirror. I started to accept that monster isn’t so ugly, she’s alright. She won’t win a beauty contest, but she’s still an okay person. I found acceptance for my ugly, deflated, 20 lb heavier, grey-haired, wrinkled, tired self. I’m okay.
I started taking to my old self, the one who swept all the icky feelings and bad experiences under a rug. I forgave her. I understood why she had to do that at the time to protect her ego, to protect her reality, to survive. She’s okay.
I looked at the hundreds of ways I have failed people, family, coworkers, friends, I didn’t meet anyone’s expectations, not even my own. That’s okay, I forgive myself. I am still an okay person.
As I slowly started to accept the ugliest and the most painful aspects of myself, the more I felt okay. Not just okay, the more I accepted, the more I felt better, and better. I stared at all my flaws, scars, guilt, shame and fear, and said okay to them. I accept. This is me now. Acceptance allowed me to embrace the highly flawed me. As soon as I embraced all my scars, I started to view those scars as meaningful, each had it’s own beauty. As soon as I accepted who I am, the more okay I felt.
I accepted one more thing, which was the true turning point from the depression. I accepted the depression itself. Yes, I accepted my low, my self-hate, that hideous feeling, the darkness, the defeat. I accepted that there may not ever be a way out, so I may as well accept that I’m here. If I have to stay in this dark place forever, I’m still okay. Again, as I accepted the depression, it started to slowly lift. It was a lessening burden. I started to feel more ease, then freedom, and then I let go and I was totally free of it.
Depression was the most painful part of my life, but also the most powerful lesson I ever learned. I am glad I faced it, and that I faced it myself. I witnessed with my own eyes my own abyss and all the stuff I put in there, and finally made peace with each and every burden I have been carrying. I stopped fearing my monsters, even made friends with them. But most of all, I found acceptance, and it was the acceptance of the self and all it’s failures that lifted me out of the darkness. It wasn’t instantaneous, it was a long, painful journey, but acceptance lit up my path.
Once I came out of the darkness, I felt more powerful than ever. How can anyone make me feel ashamed, when I have accepted the most shameful parts of myself? How can anyone make me feel ugly when I have embraced and fallen in love with this ugly face? How can anyone make me feel guilty, when I have found peace in the guilt? How can anyone scare me, when the monster is me? How can anyone make me feel less than, when I have risen out of the darkness alone and on my own merit? How can anyone threaten to expose me, when I have exposed and become okay with all aspects of myself? I willingly allowed myself to feel the agony or my lower self, my darkness, and I mastered myself in there. Who could hurt me now?
I laugh in the face of fear now. Go ahead, expose me as a fraud, ridicule me, threaten me, intimidate me, take away everything I have, I will still have more. I found my power and it was laying at the bottom of an abyss I was afraid to plunge into. I am not afraid to look at myself now, nor am I afraid that some unsightly aspects of myself will be exposed for the world to see. I am okay, I am okay, I am so okay! No matter what anyone does, I will always be okay.
“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
– – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“The moment that judgement stops through acceptance of what it is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.”
– – Eckhart Tolle
Acceptance is power.