While continuing with my need to declutter, I approached my own bookshelf that houses the books that Rob and/or I have slated as “keepers”.
These are books that one of us hasn’t gotten around to reading but intend to, or have read and love so don’t want to part with, or are reference books that we want to re-read over and over.
Boy, I have some great books. I need to remind myself to go to my own bookshelf before heading out to the book store to buy new books to read!
I didn’t really part with any; I just sort of shuffled them around and picked them up and enjoyed reading a few short excerpts here and there and became inspired to read all these books in the next few weeks!
Out of one book, fell a cue card with an excerpt of another book I had read a few years ago (I guess I used it as a book mark). While I can’t remember the name of the book, I certainly remembered the excerpt.
It was lifechanging for me.
I had photocopied the excerpt, and made several copies on little cue cards and kept them in places where I could read them often.
I remember reading this excerpt for the first time and it was like it was speaking to me. I had been living the divorce hell for a couple of years and feeling like I was regaining control again. I was feeling a bit more empowered and was enjoying my time with my kids and with myself.
But I was still feeling quite angry, resentful and bitter. I figured I would just always feel this way, but could still enjoy my life anyway. The two were not related. Although I told myself that, I sort of knew that the two were very related. I could not be bitter and be happy at the same time. I needed to choose which emotion was going to take over.
Then I read this:
“Acceptance is a gutsy, life-affirming response to violation when the person who hurt you is unavailable or unrepentant. It asks nothing of anyone but you. Unlike Cheap Forgiveness or Refusing to Forgive it is based on a personal decision to take control of your pain, make sense of your injury, and carve out a relationship with the offender that works for you….You aren’t responsible for the harm that was done to you, but you are responsible for your recovery. In other words, your freedom lies not in protesting the unfairness of the violation or in getting the offender to care. Your freedom – perhaps your only freedom – is in deciding how to survive and transcend the injury. Don’t underestimate this freedom; it’s enormous. With it comes the power to decide how you’re going to live the rest of your life. As you take the task of healing into your own hands, you empower yourself and make peace with the past”.
Those words spoke to my soul and helped me to choose happiness.
At the time I read them, I had not met Rob,and I still had great contention with my ex-husband, so it wasn’t that things were hunky dorey. Things were hard. But, I decided that I needed to choose happiness, and with that, I needed to let go of my anger, resentfulness, and bitterness.
I’m not sure how it happened over the years, but somehow I got to that spot I never thought was possible. I know that I read that quote an unimaginable amount of times to feel inspired and remind myself of my goal of acceptance. I know that I had great conversations with people who listened and advised. I know I still cried and ate frootloops. I ran. I laughed. I cherished every moment with my little guys. I also know I did eventually have conversations with my ex-husband that brought closure. I was lucky that he also took responsibility and had the humility to talk freely with me. He also had the maturity, and good will to reach out and embrace Rob as the step father of his children, and respect the new family we were creating. Although I know I did all these things, I’m not sure what really “worked”. I just know I got there, somehow. And reading this quote had something to do with it.
I know that finding acceptance for everything that life throws you could feel pretty close to impossible, but I do know you have to (at least try)if you want to find peace and happiness.
I look at my client’s and everything they have to accept. While I firmly beleive: “Knowing that your neighbour’s cross is heavier, does not change the tangible weight of your own cross”, I still am very cognizant that some people’s challenges are pretty hard to accept. I often have have conversations with my client’s about whether they are the “victim” of their accident or the “survivor”.
A victim is a person who had a great life, but then got in an accident and their life was ruined. From that point on, everything is tainted by the accident and they are now victim to all the unfortunate sequelae.
A survivor is a person who had a great life, but then also got into an accident, ruining their life as they knew it. However, they forge ahead and create a new life, despite the accident. The accident becomes a pivotal moment, a change in direction, but their life does not stop there. Their life is absolutely different, they may mourn and grieve, but they are still able to find happiness.
The difference between the victim and the survivor, is acceptance.
Whether it is acceptance of a divorce, acceptance of an accident, acceptance of a death, illness, crisis or some other great – or small – loss, we need to be able to somehow find peace. Sometimes we need to figure out how to forgive: forgive others, forgive ourselves or forgive God…and sometimes forgiveness is really just through acceptance, and then putting one foot in front of the other and moving on to create a beautiful life.