Radical acceptance means looking at yourself and the situation and seeing it as it is, accepting it completely and without judgement.
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart
My husband and I recently hit the 20 years of marriage mark. It has never been our practice to make a big deal of celebrating and to be honest, we have each taken a turn at forgetting about it. But because this was a ‘milestone’ anniversary, we contemplated doing something special. A brain storming session led us to decide on a weekend in NYC. We’d take the train, stay in Times Square, maybe see a show, have a nice dinner, you know the works.
As our departure day approached, the East Coast was bracing it’s self for a serious winter storm with high winds and bone chilling temps. Thoughts of canceling our plans entered our heads and were dismissed just as quickly. We knew weather could be a factor but we had visited the Big Apple in the throes of winter before, we felt confident we could handle ourselves.
When It’s Snowing, Let It Snow
Thursday morning, we watched the snow pile up and felt the temperature drop. The wind was fierce! Tension mounted as we played a game of ‘should we go or shouldn’t we?’ We worked on clearing the driveway but the wind blew back most of the snow we had removed. Still, my husband was able drive me to and from a doctor’s appointment without incident (information we used to solidify the case for keeping our plans.)
Later in the day, reality kicked in when we ventured out for a last minute errand. It had gotten so cold, the wind was still whipping, and our tires were spinning as we attempted to climb our hill of a drive way. Canceling was back on the table.
We were looking forward to the time away but our excitement and anticipation had become tainted by everything that could go wrong. What was to be a relaxing weekend of celebration had morphed into a frustrating and super stressful mess!
What if we can’t get out of our development? What if we miss our train? Will the trains be running on time? Will we even be able to walk around Times Square without getting frostbite? Would we lose money if we cancel?
A year or two ago I might (most definitely would) have had a meltdown. “Argh, my anniversary is ruined! This sucks! I can’t believe we lost money! Why the hell did we get married in January? And while we’re at it, why the hell did we get married?!”
Where Am I?
Instead of reacting in anger, I took a moment to refocus. It was not worth my time to continue agonizing and suffering over past decisions and a mythical chain of future events. This time I asked myself, “What can I do now, in this moment?”
I decided to call the hotel and ask if they might waive or lessen their cancellation fee. Surely we cannot be the only people whose travel plans have been stymied by a storm. The hotel staff person I spoke with informed me they do not charge their cancellation fee when the reason is weather related. “Are you sure you want to cancel this reservation?” “Yes, oh god yes!”
My husband had purchased the tickets a few months ago, he wasn’t sure if we would lose money or not. We decided our safety and sanity was worth as much. Good fortune struck again, he was able to cancel the tickets and received an e-voucher we can put toward future train travel.
By radically accepting our situation my husband and I created an opportunity to respond in a new and less painful way. We decided to cancel our trip and were willing to lose some cash if need be. We let go of what we thought a 20th anniversary celebration should be. As a result, our snowbound weekend was wonderful. We built a fire, drank a toast, and counted our blessings. I don’t think we could have planned anything finer.
|The weather outside was frightful|
|Here's to us!|
At first glance, this post may seem to be a departure from my usual writings about my struggles with chronic illness -I thought she wrote about Crohn’s? This has nothing to do with Crohn’s! but life often takes some unexpected twists. It was chronic illness that led me to depression, prompting me to seek out a therapist, who introduced me to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and the concept of Radical Acceptance. As I’ve been working on radically accepting my adventures with chronic illness, I can’t help but watch radical acceptance spill over into other areas of my life and it has been wonderful.