Wednesday 3 May 2017

Acceptance takes you beyond coping

Broadening perspectives
One morning not long after the witching hours I found myself in an interesting discussion about sexuality and the issues around understanding the concept from which I gained some insight.
I never majored in humanities, but I have a keen sense of my humanity, this is not to belabour a point, rather it is to suggest that the broadening of perspective is an essential quality of a teachable spirit. It is as if I process too much in my interactions that listening informs and enlightens in ways I cannot properly describe.
I would attend interviews and just through the conversation I find many of the questions I am expected to ask already answered, I cannot then persuade myself to give voice to confirm what I have elicited from the conversation, though expectations following routine almost always demands a pattern for interviews. I digressed.
Limiting perceptions
In that conversation, I found myself drawing a clear distinction between perception and reality. Perception is a limitation acquired from a narrow spectrum of observation and reality is covers the whole spectrum of things, too many of which have never been considered.
For instance, the subject was on coping and it would normally be phrased in a variety of ways, but not far off from, ‘How do you cope with your situation?’
Cope, in this context is a verb, it involves activity. The Free Dictionary offers a number of definitions for this particular context.
To contend or strive, especially on even terms or with success.
To contend with difficulties and act to overcome them.
The many stages of cope
Whilst I will not provide an exegesis on this topic, people have degrees of 'coping' from not coping at all to coping very well, maybe too well, sometimes. Yet, I see others who have reached another level beyond the contending and the striving, those who are no more in doubt or concern, those who have negotiated the Kübler-Ross model to a state of bliss.
Situations excite all sorts of emotions and reactions, from denial, through anger, bargaining, and depression, waves of guilt and inadequacies, low self-esteem, addiction and self-harm, worry and anxiety causing stress or worse. Coping is finding ways to manage these myriad expressions without being toppled into blank hopelessness.
Then channelling the Kübler-Ross model, having either negotiated or escaped the travails of striving to make sense of or find purpose, acceptance becomes a portal. The freedom that comes with acceptance is in my view beyond having coped.
Acceptance begetting release
For instance, and I wrote about this when I was in the hospital, the moment I moved beyond just coping with the pain with no respite from the agony to the point where I said to myself, “Akin, you’ve got cancer, what are we going to do about it?”
It did not stop the pain, I hadn’t even begun any significant treatment to manage either the onslaught of AIDS or the fungating tumours. The treatment for the former started a day later and I went on my first session of chemotherapy six days later. I was already in the hospital a week.
However, once my state of mind had occupied the sanctuary of acceptance, I knew I was going to survive. Invariably, whilst I cannot create a parallel universe of my own reality, I can suggest that with the state of mind, it is unlikely I would have been prepared to tolerate the aggressive treatment that followed for 5 months of chemotherapy and all the attendant side effects.
Forgive yourself more
Maybe, I had found a coping mechanism of sorts, but it is very likely that without having accepted my situation and then used that as a springboard to an uncertain but very possible future, I might well have expired in the five weeks that was the original prognosis for my rather debilitating situation and health in September 2009.
We cope, then we begin to understand our reality, accept our reality, embrace ourselves, forgive ourselves, love ourselves and by so doing, we advance from striving and break through the portal of acceptance into thriving. It is a process, for some, it is a lifetime, to others there is grace that shortens the journey.
That I have been that fortunate is a blessing, not that one is perfect, but that energies are not dissipated in the want for recognising who I am despite the angsts and struggles of the past. I feel that I have been redeemed for the joy of living and the pursuit of happiness. It is a good place to be.

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