“If you find your here and now intolerable…you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.” Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now
I planned to write this post about accepting our good. I will, soon, but first we have to understand how to accept the bad. When there is hardship, heartbreak, sadness, it may seem that there is no good to accept. In constantly challenging situations, it’s hard to find the positive.
Sometimes, days are dark. Weeks, months, years. Many, many years ago, I went through a difficult divorce. The end of the marriage seemed, to me, to have happened very quickly so I did a lot of my processing post-divorce. A friend recommended I read A New Earth. I read a quote similar to the one above and then promptly threw the book against a wall.
Everything was awful. My marriage was over, and not in any sort of amicable way. My plans, my dreams were all reduced to dust. (One day, there will be another entry about “plans” and “dreams” and the idea of being present).
Remove, change, or accept. Remove I did, from the marriage anyway. But the aftermath of crisis was a sludge-fest of depression. I didn’t know how to change where I was, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to accept where I was. I was in a horrible place and then I began to think about others who were in more horrible situations. A divorce is hard but what about someone who is dealing with death? What about someone who has to deal with a violent assault? What about a long-term illness or life-altering injury? How were those people supposed to accept really horrible things?
Crying over this glorified break-up became just a little…well, humiliating. I would, one day, be ok. (And yes, now, that is happily true!)
A couple of days later, I picked up the book from where I had thrown it.
And I read this:
“…[things] are as they are. What is dreadful is your reaction, your inner resistance to it, and the emotion that is created by that resistance…”
“There is nothing you can do about that fact that at this moment, this is what you feel…is it possible for you to completely accept that this is what you feel right now?” Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth
Part of acceptance is accepting that yes, this does suck. It is a horrible situation. Yes, things should be different, but they are not. Ok, then. I can accept that this is a bad, horrible, no-good circumstance. Now what? I could either wallow in misery or take action.
I was still miserable, but I began to make decisions and make an effort. Small things. Call an acquaintance to meet for coffee. Meet for dinner. If they couldn’t make it, I did things on my own. Go for a hike. Volunteered at the local animal shelter. Took a part-time job on weekends. From those small steps, I began to make bigger plans, which eventually included moving back to my home state, to be closer to family and lifelong friends.
Instead of resisting the situation, I began to accept it. By accepting it, I could live with it, which meant I began to live again. I had to start from scratch. It wasn’t in the way I had planned but I accepted the “what is,” and began to live again.