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#439230 - 06/26/13 04:23 AM Reflections on Acknowledgement and Acceptance
Dave PNW Offline

Registered: 04/03/13
Posts: 129
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Reflections on Acknowledgement and Acceptance

In Richard Gartner's Beyond Betrayal, a great resource for men recovering from childhood sexual abuse, there is a chapter on Acknowledgement and Acceptance (pg. 165). I have read this section over and over through the last six months. Somehow believing it might be a map to healing without being able to read all the signs well enough to find my way. A simple faith. I have made progress recently with acknowledging my abuse and it's effects. The acceptance part is much harder, but I believe that some day it will be a part of me. I am beginning to see a few of the signs.

Some of the key points about Acknowledgement and Acceptance from Gartner's book are:
Acknowledgement means recognizing "it's there". Seeing how it affected you and your life ... How you interpreted it; understood it; how you felt about it and about yourself; how you handled it - denied it or acted out. It took me 40 years to get to the point where I could acknowledge my abuse and its effects on my life then and now. Talking to you, writing in my journal, talking to my counselor, disclosing, posting... even the ones where I don't push submit. All of these help me make it real. Acknowledge it's presence.

Gartner says acknowledgement leads to acceptance. Acceptance is more internal and has the quality of peace and wholeness. Means you "allow the past to have happened". Absorbing the truth. Requires being willing and able to hold on to it. " Refusal to accept it rejects a part of your own self," he writes. And "You can only move your abuse to the corners of your life where it belongs if you accept that it's there to begin with."

"Allow the past to have happened." That has been a big block for me over the years. Minimize. Deny. Deflect. Numb. Compensate. Achieve.... It still is there. Its true. This was not the narrative I wanted for me. It didn't match the man I wanted to be. A barrage of major stress events and the threats presented by potential compensation outlets drove me to finally confront this. It has been hard and painful to process these raw emotions. Feelings I didn't have the ability to face when I was a kid.
I know that disclosing makes it easier to acknowledge and accept. Once you tell, you can't take it back. The other morning after I told my wife I woke up with this awareness and just a touch of fear that I had crossed over. I can't take it back now. The love and acceptance from her confirmed it was going to be okay. Disclosure here, to a therapist, to a loved one or trusted friend is a key element in building acceptance. If they can accept me.... maybe I can accept myself and what happened too.
Yesterday something felt different. Something more solid. A deep sense that as ugly as this is, it is a part of my past, it is a part of me. I can't deny or minimize it away anymore. It was a traumatic part of my development and I am still injured. But there is so much more to me than this.
I went out to this rocky point of land that juts out into the Pacific near my home again yesterday. A narrow ridge of rock covered in Sitka spruce that gives way to wind whipped scrub and grass and then just the sea and the sky. This has become my place during my recovery. I have cried here; raged at the sea; sat in the rain feeling bone weary sadness; tried to decipher triggers and responses; remembered what I missed because of this; sat with the boy I once was looking for whales and gently opening to let him talk; sometimes I have just stood there empty.... it has become a sacred place for me.... a healing place.

I was walking back across the headland to the trailhead to get back to town and I passed two native women on the narrow path. They were walking with slow and careful steps. The elder in front moved her staff every two steps in a way that looked like she was sweeping away something unseen in her path. They were walking in a sacred way. Their people have been in this place at least 3,000 years. I was reminded that I was in their house. I bowed as we passed and said a silent prayer of thanks to whatever is out there. Thanking for the healing breath that sometimes fills me. Acknowledging my past and beginning to accept. Thanks for guiding me onto this path and peace to you all. Dave

#439236 - 06/26/13 05:51 AM Re: Reflections on Acknowledgement and Acceptance [Re: Dave PNW]
toddop Offline

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 233
Loc: California
Hey Dave,

Thanks for posting your experience with the book and where you are right now. I can really identify with what you are saying. I was just having a conversation the other day with someone here about these concepts.

I was talking about acceptance/facing the past and that I am here to write this because that little kid lived through and made it through that experience, as awful as it is. And I felt that I wanted to reclaim that little kid, that endured so much. That all of those experiences were horrible and awful, but that they were my experiences and mine alone. That I need and want to remember. And fill in the gaps. And after this realization, I felt more me, more genuinely me, warts and all, than I ever have. And more present. And I guess I would say even more powerful than the ghosts of my past.

I know there is more work ahead. I know it is going to be tough. And I know I may bounce a bit around these feelings. And I know now that I will never separate what happened from the adult me. But, I can understand, and feel it, and just be more me than I ever thought I could. And just saying that made me feel more a bit more solid, which is a very odd sensation. I now feel that reclaiming all of me may be the only victory I will ever have and I feel committed to that.

I also really like the connection to nature that you speak of and how you use nature to connect to yourself and process all of the feelings. I do the same thing, either hike up into the mountains, or drive to beach to connect with that vastness. It can put things in perspective and it feels like those types of spaces are so ancient and vast that they can absorb whatever you can give to them. Such great places to release these feelings, for sure.

Anyway, your post really struck a powerful chord with me. Thank you so much for sharing this.


"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
-Albert Einstein

#439252 - 06/26/13 01:25 PM Re: Reflections on Acknowledgement and Acceptance [Re: Dave PNW]
DavoSwim Offline

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 397
Loc: Midwest
Once again you have blown us away with your writing. You've demonstrated a depth of understanding that I don't know how many of us have - I certainly don't.

Regarding acknowledgement and acceptance - where does hating what happened fit into this? Can healing occur when the memories are still so raw that they bring fear and crying to the surface? Wishing it had never happened, wondering what would have happened if you'd turned left instead of right, gone up instead of down. said no instead of yes. Wondering if any little thing could have made a difference. I realize what happened, I certainly acknowledge it. I'm still discovering the effects of what happened. I guess the answer is I haven't accepted it yet.

Thank you for summarizing the work of Richard Gartner. Had you not written, I would not have known of his work. And now it can help. I wish you much health and healing, Dave. You are a great guy to be looking out for the rest of us.



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