Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Facing Reality


I used to believe that the happiest people were those who lived with an abundance of hope. Somehow hope generated the necessary stamina to weather the storms of life with patience, tolerance and a tiny smile on their faces.

Lately, though, I am finding the opposite to be true for me.   Hope is sometimes the label I put on something much different.   I have stamina, alright, but it isn’t so much the kind needed to weather storms, it’s more like my stubborn unwillingness to accept reality as something other than I want it to be.  What I call “hope”, is usually just me wishing that one day, when all the stars align, I will finally get to be the supreme goddess of the universe and everything will fall into place  according to MY plan. 

I had hope that my husband would see things from my perspective when he was drinking and it would immediately make him stop.  I had hope that my parents would somehow support me in my time of need, even though they were dealing with their own dramas.  I have hope now that my family will see the financial strain that pulls at me and will be motivated to find work to help alleviate the pressure.  Hope abounds, and hope blinds.  It's just wishful thinking.

As I write this, it seems as if giving up hope would be a bad thing, like a venture into some kind of dark and dreary existentialism.  But it doesn’t feel like that at all.  I am learning that when I am able to accept reality for what it is, I am able to give up my perceived control over it and find a way to navigate through it without expectation.  It’s actually a relief to surrender to it, for it is only when I accept reality for what it is, that I am able to see a force at work much larger than myself.  When I surrender to what is, and abandon the idea of what could be, it gives me license to experience and treasure my life today, and grounds me in the present, instead of in some fantasy future that may never come to pass.

I no longer believe that the happiest people are those with an abundance of hope.  It does sound good on the Hallmark card, but so do a lot of other things that are gussied up to make me feel better.  Instead, I’m learning that the happiest souls are in fact those who have an abundance of acceptance.  Those who can exhibit serenity in the midst of chaos, and in spite of chaos.  For it is only when I allow myself to let go of my own struggle to control the future that I am able to relax into my life and enjoy it today, even if everything is not how I would like it to be.  


Photo credit:  www.iStockphoto.com/02-04-09 © Olaf Simon


7 comments:

  1. This is a very good read for me today. I get what you are saying when I make my hope a fairy tale dream. Hoping for acceptance is a good hope. Have a good one.

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  2. Wow - thank you so much for writing this. I can't even begin to tell you how much it helps me. Funny how you can hear something all the time, but it doesn't really sink in until you hear it/read it in a certain way ~ this definitely helps me accept and enjoy the present rather than spend my energy flipping out over some imagined future (which is what I did today, all day!). Thanks and have a great night....

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  3. I do have hope but few expectations. I hope for a better world, peace, and that the brokenness of our country will heal. But reality is that those things aren't likely to occur. I do my bit which is where the hope part comes in. I keep trying. But I also accept that not much will likely matter in the long run.

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  4. Before Al-Anon, I lived my life hoping that someone else would change, and that this change would then make me happy. All that hope, and it never did come to pass. Like you, I prefer the acceptance of reality.

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  5. I read last night that we are the main character in the novel of our own lives. We want to be the main characters in other peoples stories but it never happens.

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  6. Finding acceptance within myself was an important step for me. Before Al-Anon, I also directed hope towards others to change. I found I had to learn to re-direct that hope towards myself and have hope I would find the courage and strength through Al-Anon to accept my reality. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. I hope you, Syd, TAAF and others know how much your writings help me, and I'm sure others, just finding our way out of that place of fear that causes us to try and control others.

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