Hot House

Resistance is futile

How I was driven to “radical acceptance”

This article is taken from the March 2024 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

Will’s obsession with Zoe, the health app (not mistress), continues. Not a snack goes by without an enlightening comment on Ultra Processed Foods. As a result we’re now being treated to Will’s bread.

It’s gluten free — yup, that’s my husband, wildly late to the party — and retch-inducingly dry. Will keeps saying how great bread tastes without emulsifiers. The children won’t touch it.

New identity as artisanal baker also not ideal as our cleaner only comes twice a week, and Will invariably starts the process the minute she leaves. This is what happens when he’s WFH!

And as much as I’ve tried to explain that Gail’s sourdough is not, in fact, a UPF, Will’s adamant that he needs to “know what’s going into his food”. Damn you, Chris Van Tulleken.

I’m also still hearing way too much about Will’s “gut biome”. It’s only been a couple of years since my active involvement in Hector’s poo ceased, and now I have to hear about my husband’s! Damn you too, Tim Spector.

Acceptance becomes an act of protest. Not as a submissive, passive surrender

Essentially, I’ve been driven to “radical acceptance”, as extolled by my friend Jaspar. On paper Jas hasn’t really had to accept anything too bad — his great grandfather invented tin foil or tea bags or something, and his mother is a descendant of Nancy Mitford.

Basically, he’s Getty-level loaded. But apparently this is quite the emotional burden. How I’d love to experience the stress of a giant trust fund (as opposed to a pointless one that just about covers the kids’ school fees).

Anyway, we met on this yoga retreat in Formentera, five years ago. I was there because I needed to escape the children (they were all under ten), and Jaspar had just some kind of breakdown — see above re stress of inherited wealth.

Up until then he’d been self-medicating (massive cocaine habit) so he’d come to this place after three months in Ibiza to look at the sea etc. Then he ended up staying five years and is now a “retreat leader” preaching mindfulness, and wearing prayer beads. All of which is acceptable because he looks so like a posh Brad Pitt.

Last time we met he was telling me all about a Buddhist (I think) practice called Radical Acceptance. At first I was like, yes, yes, keep talking so I can keep staring into your limpid eyes.

Then it started to actually make quite a lot of sense. Acceptance as an act of protest. Not as a submissive, passive surrender. Not a feeble “we are where we are”. But an active statement.

These, then, are the various things which I must radically accept:

  • Will’s references to his “Zoe journey”. Only Jaspar can talk about journeys. Still, radical acceptance
  • Will’s bread. Because I don’t actually want a divorce
  • Mother in Hector’s class who can’t let any WhatsApp message go without an embarrassed monkey emoji 🙈
  • Work emails beginning “a gentle reminder”
  • My stomach. The pre-baby rigidity was a transient dream. The moveable version is the authentic me
  • My “under eye area”. Sounds obscene, and is
  • The way the same bulb keeps going in the kitchen
  • Realisation I should have bought a deeper butler’s sink in the utility room
  • The PTA. At all three goddam schools! They’re the same everywhere — perkier than an Oatly carton
  • Possibility that Minnie won’t even get into an Exeter-level university
  • Reality that Hector won’t get into a school anyone has even heard of
  • Lyra’s volume level
  • Zoe. And gut-chat

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