It’s OK to not be OK. Yes I said it.
It’s OK to fall apart. To have no clue where you are going or what the heck you are doing. To not know whether you’re moving forward, backward or just oscillating around the same point for goodness knows how long. To constantly grasp at straws in the hope that one of them will be the one that saves you from drowning. Yes, all this is OK. Why you ask? Because at least then you are conscious and self-aware of just how far you fall short of your own expectations. Which probably means you will eventually do something about it.
If you aren’t falling apart, if you are perfectly put together all the time, if you always know exactly what you are doing and where you are going……It is likely that something is deathly wrong with you.
Speaking of death. In the space of ten short months, I lost three people who were very close to my heart. Each loss more harrowing than the one before it. I partly attribute this to the probability that I barely allowed myself to deal with any of the tragic losses. The first one made me angry. I’m told that’s a common reaction to loss. The second, I regarded with disbelief and denial. The third and most recent was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back. Finally acceptance. And with it, some semblance of peace and comfort. That we are all on borrowed time anyway and it’s best to get our affairs in order since each day is borrowed, measured, precious.
There’s nothing like the taste of death to make you appreciate being alive. And I don’t mean the cliche living – you know, appreciate what you have, be positive, blah blah blah. Not that. I mean the raw, ugly truth of what living really is.
I’m the kind of person who looks very put together. Not the type who constantly annoys us with their ever-positive banter (I hope!) but rather the type of person who people are drawn to because I listen. I don’t give solutions but people walk away feeling lighter. A type of catharsis I suppose. So generally I don’t seem to be the kind of person who would fall apart. Or who wouldn’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going. I know now that this is due to the fact that I work very hard to “Be OK”.
A couple of weeks ago I featured a series of guest posts from a good friend of mine. Very routine. I remember reading his post when he sent it to me. It struck me as a very deep post, and I thought, “Wow, this could help someone out there….someone who could be struggling with the same thing…” And up went the post.
A week later, I called my friend and told him that I might as well have written the post. One day I was perfectly OK (my version of it anyway) and the next I suddenly wasn’t. I was spiraling out of control and I couldn’t even make out what was my reality any more. Out of nowhere, or maybe just a long overdue buildup of glossing over issues, my emotions were raging all over the place. Nothing felt right anymore and I questioned almost every single decision that I had made in my life. All I knew was that I had created layers and layers of being OK, time and time again, over and over. To fit in. To make other people comfortable. Or to avoid making them uneasy. To avoid being selfish and deal with my issues. Yes, you actually need to be selfish just to get time for yourself to deal with whatever you’re going through. And the things just kept piling up. Until the dam literally burst.
When I finally stopped spinning, it was very clear to me. I had been so busy dealing with and helping other people that I had conveniently forgotten to deal with Me. Some of it was avoidance obviously. Dealing with other people is so much easier than dealing with yourself. If you’re anything like me, you will understand when I say that I constantly put myself on the back burner to prioritize another person’s issue. I never even realized how much it had cost me. Until I crashed. Part of me desperately went into Urgent Fix mode. Trying a band aid solution to a gunshot wound quite literally. I couldn’t be down right? That’s what I had told myself for so long so it was just natural to get fixed asap. But my heart just wasn’t in it.
Now I don’t typically wallow. But this time I was neither ready nor willing for the quick fix. The more I pondered it, the more I realized that my quick fixes had covered up things I wasn’t ready to face. The deaths of my loved ones. A sense of failure from certain decisions I had made. Feelings of not living up to what I perceived as other people’s expectations and opinions. The more I dug, the more ugliness I unearthed. The truth is hard to face, bitter to swallow; yet for all its harshness, it was a welcome reality and almost fresh in its raw deer-in-the-headlights authenticity. It was liberating. For the first time in a really long time, I was OK not being OK.
The best part about this was that I felt human. Mortal. Real. And deep in my soul I sensed that I needed to be completely taken apart just so that I could be put together again. Almost like being reborn and seeing things with the naïve simplicity of a little child. It is terrifying and at the same time, delightfully exhilarating. Like being handed a blank slate to write on.
It’s just the beginning of the journey for me and I know I have a lot to learn. The one thing I know for a fact though is that it’s absolutely OK to not always have your ducks in a row. Because now I know it means that I am always continually working to improve on me. Figure myself out. Get better, do more. And every once in a while, it’s OK to cry. To hurt. To fall, just so I can figure how to get up in a different way. Because ultimately none of us really wants to stay down forever.
It’s just unrealistic to believe that you will never fall.