Living in acceptance is not an easy task, especially when it comes to my addiction and mental illness. Who actually wants to accept and surrender to the truth? I know for myself that it has taken me several years of being in the revolving door of addiction, coupled with bi-polar, to come to the realization that I’m not the only person who suffers from a dual-diagnosis and that there’s help as long as I remain truly open-minded, willing, and honest. When I practice these spiritual principles in my life I find myself feeling peaceful and content, stepping aside and having a new appreciation for the here and now.
There were many areas in my life I didn’t want to accept and places that I thought were working against me, only fueling my disease. In reality, nobody accepted my actions or behaviors due to my short temper with trying to find a solution to balance. I thought I could manage my using and drinking but I could not. For a long time I believed that I could but that happened to not be the case. I know deep inside I couldn’t control but couldn’t find the courage to admit it to anybody. I played the denial card every time. It was not until after many attempts of treatment and relapses that I finally grew tired of the insanity cycle I became stuck in. I was hopeless and my body was tired. I let my physical state dictate my actions. This was a moment of mental exhaustion that brought me to surrender. I’ve come a long way from that point of view, but it began with surrendering and being willing. It is never easy nor fun, especially when old ways of thinking and coping begin to creep up. I find this to happen most when I start feeling discouraged and life seems to feel impossible. I have learned to not let these thoughts discourage my progress. Life was unmanageable when I was using. Accepting these facts through experience only made it more clear to me that acceptance is the key to many open doors in my life.
I used to think living in acceptance meant condoning hurtful behavior or situations. I thought acceptance meant expecting little out of life, that it was a passive action – I thought acceptance meant defeat. However, something I’ve learned at South Orange County Detox & Treatment is that my definition of acceptance was wrong. In reality, acceptance releases the power my life circumstances had over me. When things don’t go my way and I’m living in acceptance, I don’t become paralyzed by negative emotions such as anger, fear, resentment, or regret – which inevitably lead to relapse.
One of the best passages on acceptance can be found in Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me, and can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes”
As an addict, I’m constantly having to rethink what I thought was true and redefine it. It can be scary to find out you’ve been wrong about something. But I can’t be afraid to change my mind, to accept that things are different… That they’ll never be the same, for better or for worse. I have to be willing to give up what I used to believe. The more I’m willing to accept what is, and not what I thought; I’ll find myself exactly where I belong.
Sometimes, things are simply out of my control. I can’t change them. I can’t bend them to my will. So, actually finding out that I’ve been looking at things all wrong is liberating. Suddenly there's a new potential where I’ve never seen it before. And that’s all fine- when suddenly a hopeless situation looks hopeful.
Having the belief that there was something bigger than myself at work, helped remind me that things will be ok and will eventually work out, as long as I continued to do the right thing. When I find some person, place or situation – some fact in my life unacceptable, I find serenity in acceptance. With Serenity, I find true happiness, With happiness, I find purpose and With purpose I find My True Self.