The last two weeks have been rough in Seattle after "the game." Many of us can't even bring ourselves to utter the words Super Bowl; it's just "the game." On the Monday after that Sunday, the word "fine" also seemed to have vanished from Pacific Northwest vernacular. The ubiquitous "how are you?" was regularly answered with a dead-pan expression at best or a torrent of verbal venting at worst. After almost two weeks, blue and green bulbs still shine from Northwest porch lights, number 12 flags still whip from closed car windows, number 3, 12, 24 and 25 jerseys still dot the clothing landscape but, the truth is, we're slow to emerge from our state of shock.
The rest of the country may say, "Who cares?" having moved on to other things. But Green Bay probably gets it. We were seconds away from a "Re-Pete" (Pete for Pete Carroll, the Seahawks head coach). We were pumped and primed for victory and then defeat happened. What do you do when the thing you can see materializing in front of your eyes suddenly vanishes? In Seattle, Malcolm Butler's goal line interception of Russell Wilson's game-winning pass to Ricardo Lockette was a blow to our collective solar plexus, taking our breath away.
Life, at times, seems to take our breath away. That thing we so very much want appears to materialize in front of our eyes and then, whack, what we want is gone. In Seattle, we're having a tough time getting over what is, arguably, just a game. How do you get over the gut-punch of other, more devastating, disappointments?
On the Tuesday after the Sunday, "a predictably disappointed but upbeat Russell Wilson met with reporters," and, according to the story in the Seattle PI, Wilson said about his interception, "It looked open enough to get in there and make the play. I thought we were going to. When I threw it, I was like, 'Touchdown, second Super Bowl ring, here we go.' And it didn't happen." Wilson went on to say, "Sunday we were in the Super Bowl and we came up short -- comes down to players making plays. Ultimately it's a players' game. "
In the world of counseling, we call a statement like that, an attitude like that, "radical acceptance." Radical acceptance means going with reality, even when that reality is painful, because fighting against that reality will ultimately cause even more distress. We're familiar with radical acceptance here in Seattle because it's part of a therapeutic methodology called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington. Another way of characterizing radical acceptance is learning to accept life on life's terms. Life's terms include both winning and losing, often with the later outweighing the former. A couple of weeks ago, before "the game," I wrote about the danger of living a life of "what ifs." Radical acceptance chooses to focus on "what is," not "what if."
In Seattle, we're coming to grips with what is. We're coming to grips with the fact that unbelievable plays happen on both sides of the field. We're coming to grips with the fact that it was Tom Brady jumping up and down in disbelieving joy on the sidelines and not us in our living rooms.
Acceptance isn't sugar-coating what is. We lost, period. Acceptance says, "So, what are you going to do now?" Living a life of "what if" isn't an option with radical acceptance. Wilson, in his interview, continued by saying, "What's disappointing is letting those fans down... but at the same time you look forward to the next opportunity you have." Living life on life's terms accepts the losses but also recognizes, as Wilson said, the opportunities of each new day.
The day after "the game," odds makers were predicting a Seattle win in Super Bowl 2016.