Beyond Self-Acceptance

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about a missing link in my journey to self-actualization. I have struggled to connect with people and prioritize relationships. It felt as if there was a literal barrier between myself and my ability to let anyone in and I hadn’t a clue of how to get past it. Then, this week, I noticed something new. Over the past week or so, I have been slowly making a conscious effort to make room for people. Simultaneously, I’ve been working on accepting not only who I am, but who I was.

You see, that’s the thing. The narrative that I often hear harps on “self-love” and “self-acceptance” and advice like this made me into a hollow shell. I loved myself completely on the outside, but couldn’t figure out why I still felt empty on the inside. You can’t connect with people beyond the surface, if you’re made of nothing but a surface. Something that can be seen and felt, but not truly experienced.

I avoided going deeper than the surface of my emotions because, honestly, it’s scary as fuck down there. Self hatred, depression, self destruction, hostility… the list goes on. I have a past, just like most other people, and I’m not proud of it- just like most other people. I spent so much energy and time learning to love who I am, I assumed that the only thing to do with who I was, was to sweep her under the rug. My therapist has told me for years that doing so is counter-productive, but she’s never walked a day in my shoes, so I figured she just doesn’t understand. She told me that I needed to combine who I was with who I am to become whole. Meanwhile, I was attempting to cover a bleeding gash with an abundance of band-aids, with all of me seeping through to gaps.

My therapist was right and I can finally see it. I avoid who I was like the plague. So much so, that I actually considered her to be a completely separate entity from the person I am now. I never forgave her, never comforted her, never welcomed her in, and every time she got triggered, I’d have a meltdown.

Recently, I’ve welcomed her in- welcomed me in. My past, including my past self, is the reason why I am who I am today. The reason I can love the way that I love, forgive the way that I forgive, and even have as much faith in God as I do, is because of all that I’ve been through leading up to now. The old me did as much as she knew to and not to do. She has survived everything up to now. She’s as worthy of love, appreciation, and forgiveness as I am.

Realizing this has given me a sense of fulfillment. The hole inside of me feels a lot smaller. I’m less afraid of people connecting with me and abandoning me when they find out my bad traits or bitter past. And I don’t feel the sense of inner suffering that I’ve felt for years now.

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