The Peace and Healing of Acceptance

 

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“It is so. It cannot be otherwise.”

~Inscription on the Ruins of a 15th Century Cathedral in Amsterdam

What is acceptance? And how can it help you heal from the trauma of psychopathic victimization? Acceptance is, put simply, the acknowledgement of reality. The essence of acceptance is non-judgement.

Acceptance isn’t the same thing as approval. Acceptance doesn’t mean you believe that what happened is “acceptable” to you. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It is not apathy or giving up the quest for healing.

Acceptance doesn’t mean “getting over it.” We often here such advice from people in the aftermath. They tell us that what happened happened, so we should just “get over it” or that it’s “time to move on.” These words hurt because they invalidate us and our experience. No one just ‘gets over’ having the infrastructure of their life decimated. Getting over it is not the same thing as healing.

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“The poet Rumi saw clearly the relationship between our wounds and our awakening. He counseled, “Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the wounded place. That’s where the light enters you.”

Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart Of A Buddha

Healing is working your way through the trauma and reclaiming your power as you go. Acceptance helps you do that. It’s not the final stage in some neat and orderly process; it helps you move through the process.

The first thing you might need to accept is that you’re having periods of strong emotion that often feel unbearable. Suppressing your emotions or judging them or wishing they would stop does no good. These emotions are normal and expected when a person has been through the trauma of emotional abuse and betrayal by someone they loved and trusted. Periods of intense shock, anger or deep sadness are bound to happen.

Accepting the feelings that arise within us, and allowing ourselves to experience them fully along with the knowledge that we’re strong enough to survive doing so, means we accept ourselves and acknowledge the serious nature of our injury. It doesn’t mean we might not need help dealing with our emotions, though. Sometimes we need help. We can accept that, too.

According to trauma experts, acceptance of difficult emotions:

  • Reflects a willingness to feel and acknowledge a full range of experiences
  • Recognizes that a feeling, thought, or sensation exists, and involves some degree of permission to have thoughts and feelings
  • Offers an alternative to suppressing, judging, and compartmentalizing emotions
  • Does not mean that an emotion or sensation is good or “acceptable”
  • Acceptance of emotions may assuage the self-judgment and self-criticism that can maintain PTSD and depression

Yes, acceptance can help you to heal instead of maintaining depression and PTSD. It’s that powerful.

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“The real peace of mind is accepting reality as it is.”

Swami Premodaya

In the last post, “Want To Reclaim Your Power? Re-Write Your Story!” I wrote about the difference between what happened and the story you tell yourself about it, and how reframing the story of your experience can help you heal. There is research to back this up.

Trauma researchers say that negative “trauma appraisals,” or negative stories we tell ourselves about what happened:

  • Reflect adverse beliefs or feelings about one’s trauma experiences
  • Include feelings of shame, fear, alienation, and self-blame
  • Predict symptoms of PTSD and depression above and beyond the amount and severity of trauma experiences)

(Andrews, Brewin, Rose & Kirk, 2000; Cromer & Smyth, 2010; DePrince, Chu, & Pineda, 2011)

Unwarranted self-blame and shame are detrimental to us. They can actually  exacerbate depression and PTSD.

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“Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as they are.”

Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Self-compassion is vital as we heal. It is a powerful statement of acceptance of ourselves.

Self-compassion:

  • Orients qualities of compassion (kindness, care, empathy, tolerance, patience, and soothing) to our own experience, no matter what it is
  • Includes self -kindness (being understanding and caring during pain or failure); common humanity (viewing pain as part of a larger human experience); and mindfulness (balanced awareness of suffering and other experiences
  • Influences trauma recovery (Kearney et al., 2013)

Self-compassion influences trauma recovery. That’s profound. Please read my post on self-compassion, “The Self-Compassion Effect,” as a starting point if you’re having trouble being kind and compassionate toward yourself.

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ACCEPTANCE

Accepting life has been
Somewhat akin
To accepting snow
Right in the prime
Of the growing season,
Or recompense sublime
For heinous crime.

Before I could begin,
Somewhere within,
I really had to know
If I chose rhyme
Dispensed with reason
Or reason dressed in rhyme…
And that took time.

©Linda 1985

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“What would it be like if I could accept life–accept this moment–exactly as it is?”

Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

I heard a song I want to share in the hope that it will speak to some of you and possibly help you take another step forward. I have written about the subject of cognitive dissonance before, but I think this may add something more to the conversation.

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological defense mechanism. It’s commonly experienced during and after involvement with a psychopath. In cognitive dissonance, we hold different and conflicting beliefs at the same time. Since we were given so much conflicting information, we become unable to stay on the same page about who our psychopathic partner really was. This creates a “ping-pong” effect in our minds as conflicting thoughts arise about our partner’s true character, but the conflict can not be resolved. Many describe going back and forth between their conflicting beliefs as maddening. It certainly was for me.

I heard the song “Hallelujah,” sung by Jeff Buckley and originally written by Leonard Cohen. The lyrics are cryptic, and I had a feeling there was some profound meaning behind them. I decided to look for an interpretation.

Here is a video of the song:

This is the songwriter’s explanation of the lyrics:

“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled, but there are moments when we can transcend the dualistic system and reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.’ That regardless of what the impossibility of the situation is, there is a moment when you open your mouth and you throw open your arms and you embrace the thing and you just say, ‘Hallelujah!”

~ “Exclusive Book Excerpt: Leonard Cohen Writes ‘Hallelujah’ in ‘The Holy or the Broken” in Rolling Stone Magazine.

This brought to mind not trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. I am speaking of the maddening dissonance we get stuck in as we try to make sense of what happened, and how futile that feels. The song is about acceptance in what may be the only way we can at the time — instead of trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, we can accept that at this moment we are unable to reconcile it.

Eventually I realized the hard truth and was able to move past the cognitive dissonance. But if you’re not at that point yet, just accepting the existence of this maddening conflict of beliefs can help reduce the angst you feel over it.

FRANK WINKLER GERMANY

When you get to the point of accepting the big, difficult and heartbreaking truth — that the person you loved was not at all who you believed them to be — the final step is letting go, without bitterness or ongoing emotional attachment. When you reach that level of acceptance, you will be free. But acceptance doesn’t come all at once, at the end — it’s what makes the end possible. It weaves through the healing process and happens in stages and layers.

♥ What can you accept today, at this point in your personal journey, that might help you move forward?

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“I loved the author’s ability to simply and compassionately describe why, and how, I feel victim to a monster. For me, she eloquently describes the most complex, confusing, horrific experience of my life.. To the author, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“Her writing was like discovering a mentor, a friend, a sponsor, a confident who understood, who explained in detail what happened to me in my relationship with this man. I felt like something in the universe directed me to her. Her books will help you understand the hows and whys of what you went through. Your healing can begin with her writings.”

“Invaluable. Having been in a relationship with a psychopath for many years, I desperately needed some insight into what had happened and why. I have gained a tremendous amount of strength and knowledge toward healing from years of abuse by reading this book. One of the best.”

“Spot on! Everything I needed to know to gain closure! Absolutely 100% what I was searching for! I highlighted SO much of this book. It validated my feelings, spoke to my heart, opened my eyes and set me on a path to closure! So glad I read it!!”

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24 thoughts on “The Peace and Healing of Acceptance”

  1. Linda

    I experienced extreme cognitive dissonance during my withdrawal from the psychopath, without knowing what it was. I honestly beieved I was crazy… and in a way, I was. When I found your blog and began to read about the effects of the psychopathic involvement I realized that this awful see-sawing of my emotions is “normal” during the withdrawal from a psychopathic relationship. It was still difficult, but no longer something to fear. Instead I acknowledged the damage that had been done to me, and believed that I would, in time, recover. I also came to accept that there was no magician behind the mask… that he was false, malign and bent on my destruction. This was a terrible truth, but accepting it has brought me, finally, true freedom from his spell.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      You’ve described perfectly how acceptance helps us on the road to healing, Linda. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  2. Adelyn Birch

    I’m glad you’re sleeping again, Nicola. You are very strong to be able to accept all of this. If that’s your reality right now, there is no use in fighting it. One day you might find yourself in a different place, but acceptance can bring peace with how things are in the present moment. Best wishes to you.

  3. janes

    OMG
    After i finished reading 2 of your books, of course, i wrote reviews on Amazon & i was shocked to read how the Psychos were slandering, defaming your great work. My heart goes out to you Adeyln! Scaring away the people who needs most to read your books (must be their own victim at home or near by). Psychos INFESTED Amazon reviews about your books. Those great books which we learn so much from.
    i felt so bad for not writing my review of your books much earlier. its a well known fact that most people buy their books from Amazon & they read reviews before they make buying decision. All of the globally suffering souls in the dark about these “children of darkness & destruction” a lot of us wasted decades some a life time due to ignorance about the Psychos NATURE & LETHAL TACTICS.

    ALONG WITH PSYCHOS BEATING US UP IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY, WE BEAT OURSELVES UP AS WELL, DUE TO IGNORANCE OF PSYCHOS LEARNABLE/BECOMES PREDICTABLE WAY OF OPERATIONS.
    ********************************************
    I BENEFIT SO MUCH FROM YOUR WRITINGS , I LEARN SO MUCH ABOUT MYSELF & HARMFUL PEOPLE, I LEARN SELF LOVE, SELF CARE, SELF PROTECTION & HAPPINESS( non of these wonderful things can happen if there is a Psycho in my life)
    YOUR BOOKS & POSTS ON A WEEKLY BASIS KEEP ME IN THE SAFE / HAPPY/ PEACEFUL PATH. AS A GRATEFUL READER, I WANT TO BE OF A HELP TO OUR CAUSE IN ANY & EVERY WAY POSSIBLE
    *********************************************
    SO I URGE EVERY READER TO JOIN ME IN THE CRUSADE AGAINST THE SLANDEROUS COMMENTS OF PSYCHOS ON AMAZON & WRITE REVIEWS OF ADELYNS BOOKS.
    AT LEAST WE CAN GIVE THAT MUCH BACK TO HER DEDICATION , CEASELESSLY CARING, NURTURING , SUPPORT OF EACH & EVERYONE OF US EVERYDAY & NIGHT. ALL OF THE HARD WORK SHE PUTS IN FOR ALL OF OUR WELL BEING, TO THE WELL BEING GLOBAL HUMANITY.
    HALLELUJAH !
    *****************************************************************************
    Adelyn, i kindly request that you put a statement for the new blog readers to right a book review on Amazon , like on your main page, better yet on every page of the site. This is a serious request!A lot of great writers do this. its the norm , they always ask from their readers & people are too happy to contribute their opinion of their work.
    *****************************************************************************
    DEAR GLOBAL FRIENDS ,
    PLEASE JOIN US IN SPREADING THE WORD TO EVERY CORNER OF THE WORLD BY THE MOST EFFECTIVE & MASS REACH OUT TO SUFFERS LIKE YOU & I WHO ARE STILL IN THE DARK & BLAMING THEM SELVES.
    PLEASE WRITE A BOOK REVIEW ON AMAZON AS SOON AS YOU CAN!

    THANKS A MILLION IN ADVANCE
    THANKS FOR READING , THANKS FOR SHARING

    HALLELUJAH!
    LoVE, PEACE

    1. Adelyn Birch

      THANK YOU so much, Janes! I truly appreciate your support! Thank you for your book reviews, and for encouraging others to support my work. It’s true that I don’t ask anyone here for anything, but if someone’s read the books I’d certainly be grateful for some Amazon reviews. It’s a jungle out there. Doing that would counter the malicious reviews, which would help others by getting the books into the hands of the people who could benefit from them.

      Thanks a million, Janes, with all of my heart ♥ You’re a gem!

      1. janes

        Thank U !
        We all are gems in every different ways:))
        All i want do contribute to the cause.
        We all know HOW DARK things were before.
        As Ghandi said
        “BE THE DIFFERENCE YOU WANNA SEE IN THE WORLD”
        Six Degrees of Separation Book reviews will spread the knowledge far & out.
        feelings are mutual
        LOL, thx for adding spell correction. much appreciated! LOL
        Btw, great article as always, some times i forget to state the obvious. lol

        1. Adelyn Birch

          You’re welcome. Thanks again for contributing. Those of us out here need all the help we can get. We may outnumber them, but they make sure they’re heard, in one way or another.

          I didn’t correct your spelling, btw. It looked fine to me!

          1. janes

            i meant when i click on the miss spelled words, it allows me to find the correct spelling thats all.

            1. Adelyn Birch

              Oh! I thought the blog magically corrected your spelling somehow, lol.

  4. Laurel Wilson

    I love this read!! I am currently in the process of letting go and healing. I found out the truth about the man I was dating (spath) in April and through some research realized he was an spath and began the learning / understanding process. Uuugg its been a crazy past few months. I wish I could say that I cut him off immediately but I didn’t. Sometimes it feels like a dark tunnel and I’m not sure I am headed toward the exit. These posts have helped me in more ways than I can say. I have used some unhealthy coping habits to suppress the horrible emotions that rise up. I so appreciate the constructive advice for getting on the right path to healing.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m so glad to hear the posts help you, Laurel! Constructive advice is my goal. Thank you for letting me know. I know the emotions that rise up are very painful, but please be very careful with the unhealthy coping habits, OK?

  5. Shani

    How i appreciate the insight, different approaches and resolutions from our devoted extended Adelyn family about their psychopathic encounters. With every devastation i read, my heart cringe for the dangerous fire proofed psychopathic experience put to us to learn from. Amazingly I identified with each written encounter. And i praised the universe for empowering us in different ways with wisdom and humour, to distant ourselves from the false insanity of the psychopathic misfortune we have to endure. Most of all i embraced the opportunity to learn from each other in a warm accepting
    cyber space environment.

    Thank you for every useful admission!

    My personal plots and efforts to cope with my psycho experience and acceptance fit in three different sections:
    1. Understanding and accepting the contrast of my logic observation of the external attacts and the reality of the truly deep effect on my emotions and physique that caused constant inner conflict for me.
    2. Understanding and accepting that what i observed was the truth for and a serious reality acceptable for the psychopath as normal.
    3. Understanding a accepting that the psychopath considered my being just as insane and unacceptable in his world of (for me) corrupt truth.

    Thanks. is a bloc the no analogue.

    How did i come about deciding that the ‘psychopathic phenomena’ could be an interesting add on to life experience.

    I divided my being in three catogoties :

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Thank you, Shani, for being a part of this extended family here. And thank you for sharing the things you’ve come to accept about your experience. I’m sure it helped relieve some of the angst. #2 and 3 on your list are what helped me move past my anger. I hope you’ll return and continue with what you were going to say.

  6. Depressedempath

    Thankyou for yet another great post Adelyn! A big Thankyou also to all the contributions in the form of comments by people like me on this site. IT HAS HELPED ME IMMENSELY:)
    I did that ping-pong ball thing with my psycho from the VERY BEGINNING of our relationship. I new something was not right, but he kept convincing me everything was just perfect, except perhaps for my distrust and mental problems ?- my problem, not his. LOL
    Anyway, there is a much better life at the end of the tunnel. Power to us!!!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      You’re welcome, D.E.!
      And thank you for all of your comments, for being an important part of this website that helps others find their way through that tunnel and onto a better life.

      As I wrote in the dedication of my book “Boundaries,”

      THIS BOOK IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED TO ALL THE READERS OF THE WEBSITE AND BOOK PSYCHOPATHS AND LOVE. TOGETHER, WE ALL HELP EACH OTHER. WE ARE NOT ALONE.

  7. sylvia d. hurlbert

    I know I am married to a psychopath — an intending to leave in oct or nov –getting my ducks in a role — but I am now realizing the physical abuse — it was my fault I was clumsy — or the medication I have to take – or for whatever reason — I look at my face – lips are strange – not shaped properly – same with the sides of my face – left and right – cheekbones – I don’t recognize me — who is that in front of the mirrow – too many falls on my face — right foot had to be reattached after being held together with a few tendons hanging on after he stopped his bike in front of me — knowing I would have problem stopping my bike in time — my foot went backwards instead of forward — in addition to foot there was 4 smashed bones in leg – too many other examples of accidents I have had and items that have been lost or misplaced due to my stupidness or lack of memory — everything you describe and on websites — he is — I have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibroses and need air conditioning to breathe and he constantly turns it off and open windows — he really believes that I have no idea of why he does these things — also my father was a uspsychopath — early life with one and now 8 years with one towards end of life — not only emotional abuse along with physical abuse – mother manipulated thru guilt and also passive-aggressive – she was the good guy and everybody took advantage of her – always someone’s fault instead of hers — I believe I was doomed from the start — but finally realizing how I allowed this behavior thoughout my life — no matter how much I believed I was aware because of my knowledge of psychology — but look how I have lived my life —

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Sylvia, I’m terribly sorry to hear of your ordeal. My heart goes out to you. Please don’t blame yourself. If you understood what it was you were allowing, you wouldn’t have allowed it. I hope you have someone supportive in your life. If you don’t, please find someone. Call your local domestic violence organization and go in and speak with someone. Join a support group there. They can help you get away from the abuser. I’m willing to bet that your health will improve when you’re free from this oppressive and intolerable situation you’re in, without the stress and with proper care. I wish you all the best. Please let us know how you’re doing xoxo

  8. Totallybel

    Hey Sylvia, xxx you are starting your journey, stick with it, please don’t let him ‘win’. You tolerated his incomprehensible abuse of you because of all the good in you and all your wonderful characteristics, as much as you think you ‘knew’ because of your knowledge of psychology. Your psychopath used all this knowledge ‘against’ you. In your heart wrenching account of your life with your parents , husband, resulting in your reality now, you state ‘I believe I was doomed from the start’ your psychopath is ensuring that will become your reality. He will always blame you, it will always be your fault.
    IT ISN’T
    HE HAS JUST MADE YOU BELIEVE THAT.
    He stops all that is good from happening, all your hopes and dreams, even simple day to day stuff is made difficult by him, and he ensures all your fears and worse nightmares become your reality.
    They are so evil. Get out and never look back.
    Please please please don’t give up, I’m with adelyn on this, get as much support as you can and get away from him. With every good wish and Good luck xxx

  9. janes

    I like the new Stories section where we can tell our stories :)

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I hope people will use it! I thought it would be helpful to collect stories in one place, instead of having them scattered throughout the comments. I’ll have to make an announcement!

      1. Linda

        I’ll be writing some for it soon… it’s a great idea, I agree!

        1. Adelyn Birch

          I hope you do. You’ll be the icebreaker!

      2. janes

        Good thinking. Also readers can take as long as they need to. Who knows their stories might make it to unexpected heights.
        They tell us in detail the heroic/painful experiences of their stardom.
        Psych professionals says writing is therapeutic .

        1. Adelyn Birch

          Telling your story to someone who understands is key. I think a lot of us have had the experience of telling it to someone who doesn’t understand, and that never goes well.

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