mindhug you ask, “How do you find a path to acceptance? Will it feel this painful forever?” This acceptance you are looking for I personally do not feel is ever natural. The brain losses its ability to have a flow and things turn around in the mind seem involved, so complex and exhausting. I even stopped trying to be in contact with people, even burying myself more completely in my work and my ideas. I became a workaholic, trying to fill in the holes of failure and being humiliated. I also used pride/arrogance to compensate my mental limitations, misrepresenting myself and my abilities.
So for me finding this path to acceptance is lots of letting go, especially grandiose expectations I have of myself. I had to learn to let go of feeling inadequate and defective, unimportant and undesirable. I had to let go of feeling shameful and misunderstood, turning anger and aggression against myself. I had to learn to let go of feelings of hopelessness and despair and then down into the powerlessness. Power is the ability to get things done and falling into this powerlessness made the rage just explode out of me. Yet as I have gradually worked out my powerlessness, finally, I feel a touch of acceptance.
In a sense, I suspect you are dealing with powerlessness and is closely associated with hopelessness. It feels like death in every cell in the body, which can cause flight or fight, then the body fills with terror because the mind is filled with terror. This powerlessness is torment, like the parents who lost a child. I suggest you find ways to let go, such as a walk beside a creek or go to a share group where you can speak about your feelings of powerlessness. During the sharing just allow yourself to let go. Also maybe look for small ways in offer yourself security and serenity, as finding power and security in your mental process will bring about insecurity and powerlessness. I suggest you be creative, like painting that gives you a place to release this powerlessness.
Your second question, “Will it feel this painful forever?” From my experience of letting go and release statements the brain begins to flow like a river, maybe not the way I like, and yet the flow creates this acceptance. It may feel extremely uncomfortable letting go and letting the river flow downstream, because the water rips the banks out, threatening and unpredictable, ultimately meaningless. Yet it is in the powerlessness we find acceptance and there is a great peace here. It is a place of learning to trust and the pleasure becomes the journey. Maybe name your river, just do not call it Denial, as this type of acceptance has a way of getting through problems by tuning out. It becomes fatalistic, feeling nothing can be done to change things and whatever the problem it is not a problem after all. This is more like resignation, a giving up, rather than a mature letting go.
Let go, feel the shame, fear and rage and keep letting go, as the river will teach you how to be effortlessly yourself in your disability. It is like nature’s way of acceptance and learning to not be defiant.