2016-10-01

Stop Tolerance -- Practice Acceptance

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At the time of this writing, I live in a very liberal part of the United States. This however, will soon change to a not-so-liberal part of the same. That's right folks, Sexually Secure is heading to the Bible Belt! Before I begin writing about acceptance, let me state straight off that I am a practicing Christian who gets on his knees every morning to pray. Does that scare you? Turn you off? Invoke judgement? Want to click away? Confuse you by my stance on sexuality? ...or do you want to stay and read more?

Good, you're still here :)

If you've read my "about page", you've seen that I (the male part of this husband and wife team) am a recovering sex and love addict.  That's right. I'm in a 12-step program that is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, and I've been going there since February of 2014. The reason that this is important to this post is one word: ACCEPTANCE.

My life before recovery was extremely myopic. My emotional range was anger, lust, and greed. I had a hard time accepting anyone in my life who wasn't me. So, that limited my true friends and acquaintances to one person -- you guessed it...me. I had no true love in my heart, no empathy, no passion for humanity, and no patience for others. That all changed in February, 2014.

February had a lot of "last times" for me. It was the last time I acted out with someone who was not my Wife, the last time I watched pornography, the last time I searched for other people with whom to have sex/webcam/write emails/etc. But, it was also the first time for even more.

Between February and April 2014, it was the first time I could accept others for who they really are...because it was the first time I ever accepted who I really am. That is the key to acceptance, by the way. In order for someone to truly accept others (faults and all), one has to fully accept him or herself (faults and all). I had to stop lying to myself, get myself down from my self-righteous throne, and for the first time, admit that I am truly flawed.

This recovery opened up a whole new world of insights for me. I still sit in large 12-step groups with men and women of all ages and races, creeds, and sexual orientations. When I'm in that circle, and when I humble myself to my Higher Power, it becomes clear just how much we are all connected.

That connection is spiritual; it is beyond what we can see or comprehend. There is a cord of energy that connects all life together. In my mind, I equate it to the Singularity and the theory that all points in time and space are connected. One of the mantras, by which I now live, came surprisingly in an episode of The Walking Dead -- All Life is Precious.

If you've made it this far, perhaps you could make it a little further in this post.

All of these paragraphs lead to one ultimate goal, which is my personal goal -- acceptance. It is so much easier to say it than to do it. When I drive around the streets of my liberal state, there are dozens of cars with this bumper sticker: Tolerance. To me, tolerance = to put up with. 

To put up with? If you are straight, do you just "put up with" gay people? If you're white, do you "put up with" black people? Do you get the picture here? Tolerance perpetuates our segregation and separation. Acceptance unites us!

Once I joined SLAA, I started seeing things from a very different perspective. I truly started to accept people. Where a woman, to me, was nothing more than her body parts, she is now a human being -- worthy of love, compassion, and value. The gay men who used to disgust me -- they are some of the kindest and wisest people I have ever met. The agnostic who regularly sits next to me at meetings (who is also gay), has generated such power in my own understanding of God and recovery. The Buddhist who believes in a totally different version of my religious convictions -- where I would formerly dismiss him, I now listen to the love that pours from his thoughts. 

SLAA saved my life, literally. Had I not hit rock bottom in my sexual acting out, and had I not joined this group, I likely would have contracted a deadly STD, gotten into some very bad situations and places, or have a mental and emotional breakdown. What ensued in recovery was not just some self-actualization from Maslow's hierarchy of needs. No, it connected me to humanity as a whole. It made me question all of my previous values, opinions, actions, and beliefs. It changed who I am at the very core of my soul.

So, now that you have made it this far down, I'm giving you a three-part homework assignment. No deadline. This needs to be done at your pace:
  • Part One:  Sit down with a piece of paper (yes, do this by hand), and write out who you are. That is a loaded question: Who are you? Do this in your own way. It could be a list, in paragraph form, or it could turn into a 30-page term paper. Regardless, I challenge you to write out who you are. Include everything -- your name, identity, race, religion, status, gender, sexual orientation, strengths, weaknesses, fears, deeds, sins, loves, desires, hates, inhibitions, resentments, EVERYTHING! Take your time with it. Take breaks when you need them. It might take a few days or weeks to get through it, but it is worth your time.
  • Part Two:  Read over that list, and take it to heart. This is you, poured out on paper, but it's YOU! When you have digested this material, close your eyes and focus on your soul. Focus on your spiritual energy (whether you believe in it or not). Observe yourself observing yourself. (It's amazing how your mind can observe yourself thinking.) When you are there, and where you are comfortable, say out loud the following:  I am perfectly imperfect. I have worth. I deserve to be loved, as I love others. I accept myself. I love myself. I am myself.
  • Part Three:  Pay it forward.
By learning to accept who you are, you will gain the ability to accept others. No more tolerance -- just acceptance. You will open your world to troves of new relationships, and you will stop concerning yourself with the hate that others throw upon you. Don't focus on people who hate you. Pour your energy into people who love you. It will radiate, and love will attract love.

All of this is taken from my own experience. I was, until three years ago, a misogynist, homophobe, racist, bigot, self-centered, egomaniac. Because of my 12-step recovery, deep therapy, and my relationship with God, my whole world has changed. I'm not asking you to attend a 12-step group, go into therapy, or find religion. Do that if you feel called to do so. I'm asking you to do the homework I provided. If you can accept yourself, you can, and will, accept others.

Feel free to contact me directly with any comments, questions, or suggestions. Subscribe to Sexually Secure, so you know when I post new content, or you can follow me on Twitter.
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