If you gently break
the surface tension of a pool of water
with your palm
and slowly run your hand along, letting it float
You can feel! The memory it retains
of all who have been submerged
and exited, changed
(You can keep them all, you know)
Throughout my childhood, I thought very differently on the state of being than I do now. Every time I successfully “evolved,” changing for the better, I’d move forward as my more tolerable self and crumple the ideas of the old me into a ball, just like wastepaper, and dispose of them.
I lost a lot of tolerance for myself that way. Suppressing behaviors that would attract attention or make others feel awkward would gain praise from adults, and so I’d trash the old and move forward with the new. Stimming, acting too differently from others, or acting any way other than what fit into a narrow and precisely-defined role were all things to be abolished.
I did what I could, but it would only last so long and the unwanted things would reappear. I’d be berated, and confrontations would escalate. I “knew the things I did and the ways I acted were upsetting to others, so why was I still doing them?” Clearly, I didn’t love the people who loved me. The theme of broken and stupid permeated my early life, and I’d think on my failings while wondering how the garbage parts of me could still be around when they were clearly useless and wrong.
People who think they knew me as a kid would laugh, but it’s amazing how we can learn to “pass” at a young age, as a means of survival / self-defense. I knew how I was expected to be when in public, and sometimes it helped keep me safe. Un-learning that shit is a process.
You are not a series of failed iterations, but a true and whole person. (Dear self, read that often and know that it is true.)
Acceptance is the radical act of acknowledging all parts of a person (yes, even the ones you don’t understand, value, or like) as more-than-valid parts of a more-than-valid whole.