25 April 2011

Learning to accept myself

The tenth step of self-parenting says, "Practiced daily self-acceptance and learned to live in the present."

Self-acceptance for me means that it's OK to make mistakes. I am a human being - it's OK to make a mistake. And you know what? It's OK to admit I made a mistake. With this little bit of self-acceptance I find my own humility and my own uniqueness. And with that all I've come to realize that I can be vulnerable. I don't have to be invincible and tough. I can cry, I can tell others I'm hurting, and I can express my feelings.

This self-acceptance has helped me live in the present. It is a fact that I grew up in a violent alcoholic home. I watched my mom screaming as she was hit again and again. I cried from the beatings I took both physical and sexual. And I believed the messages that I heard. "You're no good." "I wish you weren't born." "If you had half a brain you'd be dangerous."

I grew up believing that my parents had every right to abuse me because I was no good - I was a mistake. And those words ruled my life for many years. Not any more. It can't. My past has no place in my present.

I refuse to let my past be an excuse for bad decisions or bad behavior. The past is a part of me, but it is not who I am. Self-acceptance says that I'm OK. I'm not a mistake. And that to live in the present the past needed to die.

And it has. First came true forgiveness for my parents. They too, were human beings who had a horrible disease. While forgiveness helped the process of letting go of the past, it still wasn't complete until I found thanks.

Thankfulness to my Higher Power for giving my parents to me. Through the turmoil and hell they did help me become the person I am. And now with my Higher Power's guidance I have learned to live in the present.

These steps, also adapted from AA, were written by Patricia O'Gorman, Ph.D. and Philip Diaz, M.S.W., as part of their work with families, women, and youth in recovery.

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