I’ve mentioned before that I am a tried and true, dyed n the wool, Meyers-Briggs tested, idealist. This changes being an idealist from what I am to it being who I am. There is a big difference. There are any naturally happy, optimistic, people who try to find the positive is most situations, but these happy-go-lucky folks are not true idealists. They don’t ache to the bones over injustices in the world, and they seem to come to terms with “Life isn’t fair,” pretty easily.
A real idealist, like me, will rail against injustice, and will wage an almost constant internal battle trying to wrap their heads around life not being fair. I know I sure did, and sometimes I still do. I do not innately get mean, unkind, vengeful, and just plain nasty. When I hear it, or see it, it always makes me wince, and causes some deep pain, even if the person hurt isn’t me, or someone I love. I’d greatly prefer not to even know some of these more ugly emotions exist in the people I know, but they do and I somehow manage to love them anyway 😉
However, in the last few years, something has changed within me. I am not fighting life anymore, and life has not been a cakewalk in the last few years. What changed? I made some pretty important decisions. I decided that I deserved happiness and love and all good things just as much as anyone else. I decided that I am more than good enough just as I am, and I decided to be me as fully as possible, not allowing others to attempt to recreate me in their own image. At the same time, I decided not to try to change others into something they were not. I decided that I’d had enough of shame, and that my life was too full for mean people, and negative people, and for people who hurt me without a second thought. I decided that life was as good as I made it, and most importantly, I decided that, no matter what, everything was going to be okay.
All of these decisions just happened to coincide with my 50th birthday, which was also the day I left my abusive husband with only a child and a dufflebag of clothing. Basically, I decided to be happy, and to take full responsibility for that happiness. That this all happened when I was homeless, facing a prison term, and with my sister’s husband dying seemed to amaze most everyone. My own counselor at the time once said, “I don’t know how you do it. You keep going, and you keep smiling, and you seem happy.” It was true. I was happy. Then she said, “Radical acceptance. That’s what it is. That’s what you’ve got going on.” That was the first time that I had heard the term “radical acceptance,” but yes, wrap all of my decisions into a big ball and that is what you get—radical acceptance, of life, and others, and of circumstances, but most importantly, of myself.
I cannot even begin to describe the freedom I feel every day now, and I felt that freedom even when I was in prison. In fact, I believe that one of the reasons that God wanted me in prison was so that I would realize that I had really been in prison all of my life. At first, others built the prison walls, and I just stayed put, and then it became an entrenched way of survival and life long after the initial wall builders were gone. I didn’t put myself into that prison, but it was my job to break myself out, and I did just that, finally freeing that poor, wounded, little girl for good, while I was in an actual concrete and steel prison. There is a certain irony in gaining true freedom while in prison…
I love my life and my life is good, but my life is messy as hell. It’s never been neat and tidy and I have no reason to expect that to change, but I don’t care. What I have within that messy life fraught with circumstances that would crush other is love, and joy, and freedom to be me—messy, happy, mostly peaceful me. I have God and my integrity, and I have found that’s all that I really need.
The people in my life, with their neat lives, stand back in wonder and amazement. The people in my life love me dearly, and there are a lot of them. They love me messy, and happy, and real, and me. That’s radical acceptance on their part and it’s pretty darned cool. I think they even learn a little from me.
Am I still an idealist? You bet I am, but I know how, and where, to channel that energy now. I have big plans for the future, and I know where changes need to be made in the world. I will continue to grow, but now that I am free, and I radically accept me, I am not going back to any form of prison again.