I’ve heard it said over the years that it’s okay not to be okay.
I have often wondered if that was true.
Like, is it really okay to not be okay? Is all the mess that comes with not being okay allowed? If we’re honest, in the larger society, it is NOT. We live in a world where there is so much pressure to have these picture perfect lives. Lives that, while they may be a little messy, should not be too messy for a good selfie, filter, and obligatory social media post.
This bleeds into our personal lives as well. Statements concerning legitimate concerns are often met with, well intentioned, toxic positivity. You know the type where our friends and neighbors tell us to smile through it or that “the Lord” won’t put more on us than we can bear. Honey…… Let’s just be real. Being not okay will often get you written off as negative, lacking faith, or weak. The kicker is, the negative messaging about these totally valid feelings/states of being are so ingrained in our minds that when it really gets rough, the criticizing comes from within.
What are we to do about this? How can we take a breath and actually acknowledge that we are not okay?
It’s tough but over the past month I have learned how to do just that. It came at a moment in which I was overwhelmed by what seemed to be stressors coming at me from every angle. Typically, I paste a smile on my face and keep it moving but this time……. this time I couldn’t. This time, I could not even find the will to get out of bed in the mornings, let alone do anything productive. I had pushed myself and pushed myself until I had nothing left.
Finding myself in this state sparked a lot of negative feelings toward me from myself. I felt worthless. I felt like a failure. I started to remember every negative thing that anyone had said to me in the past few years and play it over and over in my mind. The more I had these thoughts, the deeper into the darkness and self-condemnation I went until I had a moment of clarity as a result of speaking with my wife. The words she said to me were simple. “It’s okay.” I paused…. cried a little….. and thought about that statement. Now, I’d be lying if I said that I instantly felt better about being a mess in that moment because…. I didn’t. I did, however, change my internal narrative and gave myself permission to not be okay. I gave myself permission to feel every bit of what I was feeling and to process it.
It was hard ya’ll. There were days when all I did was sit on the couch and cry. There were days when I had to wrestle with myself and with God over some things. I had to get to the root of what was sending me into this seemingly endless cycle of not being okay. I had to face some ugly truths about my past, about some of the relationships in my life, and about aspects of my personality that I developed as a result of years of trauma. It was, and continues to be a humbling experience. It is one that is necessary if I am to become the kind of man I need to be.
You see, in giving myself permission to not be okay, I made space for ME. I made space for myself to show up exactly as I was in that moment with no apology and just be present with myself. Though healing has come from this, healing was not the original goal. The goal was just to take a moment to acknowledge that I was not okay and just sit with myself in that state without judging myself for being in that state. Make sense?
Now, I’ll get into the healing journey in future posts but, for now, I just want to encourage anyone who may feel that the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you’re tired of pretending to have it all together. Take a moment to make space for that. Take a moment to be gentle with yourself for a few moments and acknowledge where you are. Love on yourself in that moment and reassure yourself that struggle is a part of being human.
In case you didn’t know before reading this. It really is okay not to be okay. Learning to be gentle with yourself when the world is beating up on you with pressure from all sides can be the beginning of a renewed relationship with YOU.
Until next time.
I love you.