What It’s Like to Be Me: Begin Again Pt 3, Acceptance

Michael J. Fox built a successful career in acting; then at the height of his fame he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. As his symptoms worsened, his ability to perform became more difficult. This devastating medical condition could have destroyed his livelihood, his identity, and his passions. Instead, he figured out how to transition from a Hollywood star to an activist and an advocate for people with disabilities. He was already a hero of mine for portraying Marty McFly, but I admire him even more for the dignity and hope he embodies off screen. How did he do it? Fox accepted his circumstances. He once said, “Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it.”

I appreciate Fox’s philosophy. While getting my feet back under me, I followed his example. As a man trying to get healthier, as a single father and gainfully employed individual trying to figure out the work/life balance without a partner to assist me, as an adult trying to forge new friendships and build a support system from scratch, as a member of a ministry team, as a human rediscovering who I was and what I needed to do with my life. I had to accept my “is what it is” circumstances so I could find my way through it. These songs helped me find acceptance.

Fuel: “Leave the Memories Alone
Before I could create new memories, I had to deal with a decade worth of old memories I didn’t want to remember. “So I find me in your garden now, a sad smile for the scene and all the flowers that we planted now taken by the weeds” Confronting my reality, it was easier to recall the bad than the good. So leave it alone. Don’t bring it up. Don’t remind me of what used to be. Tell me what is and what could be. I knew it was time to rebuild and start dreaming again.

Coldplay: “Ghost Story
You never really realize how much churches are geared to minister to married couples, especially young couples with kids until you’re a divorced parent. You never realize how much community supports are designed to help and support single moms until you’re a single dad. Losing my marriage and all of my friends in one swoop was a weird enough feeling. I felt invisible. “What's the point of feeling love for you when you don't believe I'm here?” Then it’s complicated when culture views single dads as an oddity at best, like some kind of myth, or a second class citizen at worst. Society tells men to be strong and know everything and dudes like me who fail to meet that criteria often feel invisible. Divorce is hard enough, but explaining what it’s like is harder when no one listens. “What's the point of trying to raise your voice if no one ever hears?”

Smashing Pumpkins: “Being Beige
Billy Corgan’s lyrics are intentionally vague, left open for the listener to interpret. When this song came out, it felt like an honest assessment of my ‘it is what it is’ outlook. The blunt look backwards, “I don’t love you for what it’s worth.” The cynical appraisal of current affairs, “The world’s on fire so …” This song recognizes the remorse for what was, yet it is resolved to accept what is and is to come.

Staind: “Trippy
The most important thing I did after the divorce was determining what BS I was willing to endure, and what I would reject. You can hear that thought process in this song: “I don’t want this, and I don’t need this.” Therapists call it setting boundaries. “I can’t fake this, and I won’t take this anymore.” After ten years of being manipulated and criticized, I was done. Boundaries were made and I was finally able to feel free.

Third Eye Blind: “Motorcycle Drive By
I began to see divorce as the best gift Bekah ever gave me. For ten years, she always discouraged my dreams and mocked my hobbies. “And there's things I'd like to do that you don't believe in. I would like to build something but you never see it happen.” As soon as the constant critic was gone, I was suddenly freer than I’d felt in a long time. I began to write more. I started hiking and playing video games again. I stopped worrying if my music was too heavy or of the shows I watched were too geeky. The song claims “I'll get over you, you'll wonder who I am.” I had to accept my circumstances so I could become a better version of me. I’ve grown and changed so much since then. Sometimes, it seems like Bekah doesn’t know who I am anymore.