I've decided trauma recovery has much in common with the grieving process. This isn't really news, but I saw a list of the five steps of grief and realized I've been through most of those in some way since beginning this journey.
I don't know that I went through them in that order. My therapist and husband will tell you I haven't spent nearly enough time on the anger portion. Obviously, I had denial down pat for years and years. The bargaining was a brief period of "just let me be crazy and they can lock me in a padded room" instead of this reality. The depression . . . well that's an ongoing issue, although not nearly as bad as it used to be.
That leaves acceptance. I believe getting to acceptance is a process, not an epiphany. Unless you call it an epiphany the way Ann Voskamp does, a "light here, and then it's gone". Each day I learn a little more about accepting the reality of the abuse. I learn a little more about releasing the guilt and shame. I learn a little more about seeing myself as me, and not as their victim. Add up all those little bits, and that's the path to acceptance.
I'm not happy I was abused. I'd trade it all in for a perfect happy childhood, except, who really gets that? And who would I be if I hadn't been abused? Don't misunderstand me. I'm just accepting the reality of my life now and how I got here. And reminding myself that my current reality is pretty wonderful. It's not trouble free, but life isn't trouble free -- not if you choose to really engage. And I want to be engaged.
So I don't shrink from the past the way I used to, and I don't dwell in the past either. But I do take it out and look at it, turning it around and around in my hands and heart, so that I can learn from it, and see how far I've come.
"Acceptance means that you perceive reality accurately
and consciously acknowledge what you perceive".