Today was a pretty rough therapy day for me. I went into it feeling crappy and not knowing why. As soon as I started talking – as soon as there was actually a space where I was allowed (forced) to sit down and think about it and say what I was feeling – it was so obvious what was wrong.
It wasn’t the situation at the farm (which has been weird, what with my friend/roommate and I still navigating the world of post-blowout interactions), it wasn’t the situation with my boyfriend (which has been feeling a little scary all around) and it wasn’t any of the other things my head let me believe throughout the week.
It’s the fact that I’ve now lived 30 minutes from my parents/family for almost a solid month and they haven’t visited once. Have barely called or emailed. And never to actually see how I am – just to mention stupid superficial shit.
Do they care that I was suicidal only a few months ago? Do they care that things got so bad that I had to live with them? Do they realize that I couldn’t bring myself to tell them “I want to die” and it took someone else breaking my trust and revealing that information for them to hear it? Do they even remember me blowing up at them for the past 20-odd years of neglect and ignorance? Do they care if I’m dead or alive? Do they hope I give up?
For the first time ever, I came really close to crying in therapy just thinking about it. The actual words would barely come out, my throat was so closed up with years of habitual self-denial. When it comes to expressing my feelings, especially hurt and anger, I feel like I’m back at square one sometimes, totally unable to breathe let alone speak the words: How can you do this to me?
As I sat there trying to choke out some kind of explanation of what was happening, of how perpetually hurt and disappointed and ignored I am by my family members, Karen didn’t bother to try to reconcile me to their behaviour. All she finally said was, “And where has this gotten you?”
The hardest of the DBT skills, hands down, is radical acceptance. Radical acceptance means accepting reality as it truly is, even if you hate every single thing about it. It means acknowledging that even the most abhorrent and disgusting and unjust things simple are. They are horrible and maybe they shouldn’t exist but they do.
Radical acceptance does NOT mean saying, “This is okay” or “I like this.” You can hate something with every fibre of your being and still radically accept it.
If you’re feeling totally confused or in denial about this, you’re not alone. This is all what makes radical acceptance so bloody difficult.
Part of coming to a point of radical acceptance involves realizing what you have been refusing to accept is already there, and you can’t change it.
She left me.
He raped me.
I need help.
It means realizing what you’ve been fighting so hard against and asking yourself: But where has it gotten me? Because chances are, the answer is a big, fat nowhere.
For me, the core thing I have been fighting against for years – if not my entire life – is the reality that my parents will never give me what I need. They will never be able to love, nurture or care for me the way I need(ed) someone to love, nurture and care for me. I fought it in ways that are probably all too familiar to you, too: But they SHOULD love me, they should have been there, they should never have been parents, someone else should give me that care and love. Yet as Karen pointed out, fighting that reality has gotten me nowhere. Worse than nowhere. It’s gotten me to a place of extreme mental illness, self-harm, anorexia, OCD, mistrust of people and an inability to have normal relationships. It’s gotten me BPD.
This part of radical acceptance sucks. The crushing despair and depression as you begin to give up the fight and realize what you must accept. Because it’s just the way it is.
I could continue to rage and rail and emotionally blackmail and snarl and hurt myself and others. Or I could start to accept that this is the way it is. And then go from there to… where? I’m not sure yet. But it has to be better than here.