Acceptance

This is the time of year where many of us look back and realize what does and does not matter in this crazy yet incredible paradox called existence. It is baffling and beautiful when you really take an introspective moment to sit down and recollect the path your life has taken so far. In hindsight you can realize which seemingly insignificant experiences had significant impacts and, knowing their outcome thus far, accept them for exactly what they were.

In your life you strive to be something, you strive to get something. When reminiscing about even the most mundane events we are able to notice that the necessary things we needed to make the most of those experiences, bad or good, could always be found somewhere in the memory. (When I say “make the most”, I mean “benefit to the psychological and spiritual growth of our being”). Even your most loathsome situations had some component that helped you get through and, as a result, become the wiser and mentally richer person you are today. The proof is in the fact that- guess what?- you survived.

A major turning point for me this past year was during the past summer when I sought out a different obsessive compulsive disorder treatment.
The treatment shook my idea of individualism. I am proud to say that I did not go into panic mode, like I have in the past, and irrationally attempted to compensate for my lack of certainty with anorexic “solutions” (eating disorders never pose real solutions, they only tangle you in further problems. This is a topic for another time, though). When I think back about how I handled the identity crisis I realize that what I did was, first, recognized my confusion; and second, accepted my confusion. I did not know who I was, what I was about, and how I was going to tackle the grand scheme of my life- and I was content with that. I wrote about it in a poem called “Novelty” (“Novelty” by Valerie Parente) not with the intent to find some external solution out of the thin air, but to find and uproot the solace already dwelling within my current state. And what I found in accepting my state of mind was the miracle of acceptance itself.

The greatest revelation I have come to this past year is the power of acceptance. Acceptance is something we hear about all time. Psychologists, gurus, even religions have long emphasized the importance of accepting our circumstances. I don’t think people understand how this feels until they really experience the ineffable, unwavering, natural phenomena of acceptance firsthand. Acceptance brings a veridical peace that I honestly cannot describe through linguistics, nor can I force on anybody else.
That being said, I can bring light to what acceptance is NOT.

Acceptance is not a peace of mind that can be feigned. Often people mistake peace of mind with being unaffected by life, but this is false. Pretending not to care, pretending that the things bothering you don’t really matter to you, and pretending that life has no effect on you has a tragic outcome… it undermines the greater moments of life. If you are so busy being unaffected all the time you will never feel the depth of positive notions like gratitude, awe, joy, excitement, humor, or love.

Acceptance is also not “doing nothing”. If you are not content with your situation you should still make an effort to overcome obstacles, injustices, and hardships- but you should do so with a mind that reasonably acknowledges the reality that you will have to work through, not around, your dilemmas. To acknowledge a problem for what it is while acknowledging the extra exertion that will be necessary to tackle the problem is to have a mentality that is balanced. Be determined enough to face challenges while compassionate enough to recognize your limits and give yourself a break when you need to replenish your energy. This kind of mental equilibrium is the type of acceptance I saw in myself when thinking back about my identity crisis induced by alternate OCD treatment this summer.

recognize-and-accept

There is great freedom in accepting yourself, others, and anything or everything that unfolds. Let yourself feel what you feel. Understand that everything is fleeting, including your mental state. And be as you are. When you look back you will always realize that you survived, and that nothing can devalue you… you can only be made richer.

 – Valerie Parnete (12-18-2016)

The Creeper

creeper

The creeper only came out at night, terrorizing the community with messages of vanity. The creeper swore she meant well, but no member of society believed her.
The creeper had one argument to make before the angry mob in order to defend her vanity.

“Is it so wrong to be a visual person? Is it so superficial to prefer what is aesthetically pleasing to the pupils? If so, I can pinpoint exactly where on the spectrum my thoughts go wrong. Because I possess a black or white mindset that can only think in extremes. Dark or light to touch the eyes. And I chose the dark because the light is blinding.”

As the bold civilians sympathized, the timid civilians empathized.

-Valerie Parente (12-15-2016)

 

Better Lost Than Found

Writer’s block has forced me to address a narcissistic quandary I have been able to avoid under the influence of inspiration.

Do you deliver halfhearted writing piece after writing piece just for the temporary gratification of seeing your name in print, only to find that none of those writing pieces hold any true value to the world? Or do you take your hands off the keyboard, sicken yourself with self-doubt, face unedited introspection, and feel indescribably lost?

identity crisis

When I realized that the scarier reality was giving no value to this world versus being lost from my own mental limelight it became clear that this heartache, confusion, and serious self-doubting induced by writer’s block offered me the perfect opportunity to reach a new milestone.

My greatest breakthrough against narcissism came from the humbling realization that I would rather lose touch with myself than ultimately find out I have nothing to offer the world.

I would not have come to such a comforting revelation without the discomfort of writer’s block.

– Valerie Parente (7-22-16)

Quest

“You don’t want to get better.”
I was extremely offended.
“You don’t want to get better.”
I was extremely offended again.
“You don’t want to get better.”
…and again. It is difficult to get over an emotion when your glitching mind replays conversations… sentences… phrases… words… sounds… again, and again.
“You don’t want to get better.”
The sting of the comment was starting to subdue into a vapid memory, naturally losing its caustic power with every mental replay.
With a clearer mind I tried to understand why I was so offended by the comment.
“You don’t want to get better.”
That can’t be true. I know I want to get better. I know OCD is not my friend. But to entertain the idea that living with OCD is living carefree would be foolishly wrong. There is no serum to permanently reverse this mental illness in its totality, but even if there was, the idea of simply ousting obsessive compulsive disorder is not a matter of “getting better” to me. But why do I view “getting better” with such a cringe-worthy connotation?
It’s not that I want OCD… it’s that… I would feel lost without OCD.
At those critical ages when a kid becomes an adult, when virtues are established, and when identity is found, the development of my personality coincided with the development of my mental illness in a symbiotic relationship.
Obsessive, compulsive, and disordered have fused themselves with the evolution of my personality, so it makes perfect sense that I would feel lost without the anxiety disorder that has pervaded my growth into adulthood.
I do want to feel better. I do not want OCD to rule my life. But I understand that to embark on a life without this mental disorder (if I were somehow endowed with OCD’s cure) would be to face a whole new challenge in itself, a challenge of feeling totally lost and having to find myself. I would need to be ready to take on that challenge. But you know what? I don’t think I get to consciously choose when I’ll be ready for that challenge. And I know this to be true because I already unintentionally started to face that challenge of self-discovery. Because to realize there is a challenge that needs to be addressed is to already begin to address that challenge. I might be lost, but I will find my way.

"Rose Quest"

“Rose Quest” by Valerie Parente

– Valerie Parente (7-9-16)

Bright Side In Darkness

rootsDwelling on sadness and pain can create some of the most beautiful and authentic masterpieces of art. Many of my favorite writing pieces, if not all, have stemmed from a dark place. But as far as I am concerned the dark writing pieces without any silver-lining of illumination belong in the privacy of my journal, not on the webpages of my blog.
Ranting and moping into a diary is effortless, while publicly writing about sadness and pain is tricky. On one hand you want to adequately express yourself, but on the other hand you want to contribute something beneficial to society. And it is extremely hard to benefit people with writing so focused on negative topics and dark emotions. Negative writing that is meant for eyes other than your own should be handled very carefully, thoughtfully, and considerately so that the writing does not cross from “comforting” over to “bringing other people down with you”.

This goes back to my motto: Finding beauty in darkness. Darkness without beauty is idle, or, if anything, detrimental. But darkness with beauty- whether that be the beauty of coming away from a hardship having a personal revelation, the beauty of knowing that you are not alone in struggling or feeling badly, or even the beauty of spreading word about something negative to elicit positive change- that is what I believe art is meant to be. You need a bright side to see the beauty in darkness. And when it comes to my art, dismal writing without any silver-lining belongs in the diary.

– Valerie Parente (7-1-16)

You’ve Made An Author Out Of Me

You’ve Made An Author Out Of Me by Valerie Parente

She does not read for leisure. She reads to study. To learn. To quench a thirst for knowledge, knowledge that constructs her entire outlook of reality. So when she couldn’t find out anything about him… she was lost.
“I want to know who you are, what you are about, what you have been through. But you are way too hard to read. When I’m with you, you refrain your diction. When I’m not with you, there’s no context. I have to use my own imagination to explain the content of your character. You’re giving my mind way too much freedom to play around and cultivate false memories. This isn’t your story any more, it’s mine. Don’t you see what you have done?”
His disposition tightened and his jaw clenched. He was about to apologize when the sudden euphonious plot-twist of her voice took him by surprise.
“You’ve made an author out of me,” she smiled.
Her eyes were fixed onto his with a firm stillness, but the shimmering of her tears created an illusion of movement. Under the influence of emotion her pupils flickered… as if she were reading from left to right.

she reads to study

– Valerie Parente (6-22-16)