Every Friday morning I head to one of my favorite places on earth: My therapist’s office.
From 9:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. I sit on her couch and deconstruct my life in the hopes that I can discard the parts I don’t need and put back the parts that I do in a way that fits and feels a little bit better.
There are good sessions, bad sessions; easy sessions, painfully difficult sessions. There are the sessions I leave crying tears of joy and gratitude and the sessions which leave me sobbing from resentment and regret. But they are all necessary if I am to continue on my quest of being a better mom, wife, sister, friend, daughter and human being.
Regardless of the contents of our conversations, my therapy visits all have one common theme threaded through them: Acceptance.
Trust me. It’s way easier to type the word than it is to apply it to my life, but I’ve embraced it enough times now to know that acceptance truly is the gateway to freedom.
Freedom from anger.
Freedom from guilt.
Freedom from the “why’s” and the “why nots” that plague our lives and prevent us from moving towards happiness and away from regret and a past riddled with imperfections.
Freedom from looking at every situation and feeling compelled to fix it.
Freedom from trying to change our loved ones into a more tolerable version of themselves.
Freedom from micromanaging every social event, every business interaction, every possible minute of every single day.
Accepting that we simply do not have the means nor the power to influence life to meet our every need, demand, or expectation is a passport to living life on life’s terms, which frees up a lot of time and allows us to truly embrace the moments and experiences that make up our journey here on earth.
Like I said, it’s so much easier to type this than it is to actively apply it to my life. I have OCD; the kind that threatens to overpower every thought and action of mine on a daily basis. Asking me to regularly engage in acceptance is like asking me to check all the locks in the house only once, and we all know that’s just crazy talk.
But whenever I feel short on acceptance I need look no further than my special needs son, Andrew. He truly is the epitome of acceptance, a living, breathing example of the kind of life we could all have if we just stopped trying to manipulate, maintain, and make perfect sense out of everything long enough to realize it’s impossible to do so.
Andrew’s formula is simple really: He isn’t saddled with the burden of trying to explain or justify everything that happens to him. He doesn’t walk around wallowing in the “unfairness” of the situation. When something happens to Andrew, he is already in a natural state of acceptance; it’s amazing to watch.
Take yesterday for example. When I took him to the ER for what turned out to be a broken toe, Andrew wasn’t thrilled about being there, but he wasn’t obsessed with trying to make sense of his injury either. He was in pain, and that was obvious, but he was also simultaneously at peace. It wasn’t the best situation to be in sure, but it also wasn’t the worst either. For Andrew, it just was.
Don’t get me wrong. He was visibly frustrated with being unable to walk and feeling uncomfortable, and he wasn’t crazy about being messed with by the hospital staff. And I’m not saying Andrew doesn’t have opinions and preferences and a clear idea of how he’d like his days to look (swimming, YouTube, white grated cheese in a bowl. Rinse, lather, repeat). But inbetween those discomforts was a little boy in a situation he had not control over and his natural state was – and always is – to go along for the ride with grace and acceptance; this enables him to experience laughter and joy even in the face of adversity.
Andrew has a lot of challenges and obstacles in his life, but I think in respect to acceptance, my special needs son’s ability to live his life on life’s terms is superior to anyone else I know. I believe this allows for faster healing, a superhuman ability to forgive, and an overall happier existence.
In this way, Andrew is truly free.
And though I may never achieve the zen and acceptance that my son inherently possesses, one of his greatest gifts to me has been and continues to be the inspiration he provides me in learning to let go, especially during those times when all I want to do is hold on suffocatingly tight to circumstances or people that do not belong to me, forcing my will upon life in a way that’s counterintuitive to progress and peace.
Another day, another lesson from my special needs son.
Blessed am I indeed.