“This is my life.” I have said this to myself too many times than I can count. Most of the time, it is in the morning, as I wake up and clear the cobwebs. “This is my life.” My mind races with all the things that must get done to keep a family going. Husband, kids, dogs, laundry, breakfast, coffee (can’t forget coffee), meetings, work, appointments, etc. all come rushing in my thoughts. But first, coffee…
I am not sure when it all hit me. I am not sure how it happened. I know when we sat in the doctor’s office last August hoping to hear good news and he looked at us and said, “We do not know how to attack this, so we will stay on this medicine.” My reply was grounded in the fact that things can always be fixed. “No, I do not accept this. I want my husband back. My husband before this happened.” And the doctor said, “We do not know what the damage may be. It could be permanent.” This meant that what was before is not now and my hope that it would return to normal was fading.
To be brutally honest, I began to unravel. I had told everyone that I was okay. I was okay. I was okay. And suddenly, I was not. I had stood here before, but not with my best friend being sick and me not being able to control anything. All of the feelings came at once. All the thoughts that were pushed away came in like a wave and I felt myself drowning in uncontrollable emotions. I always kept it together, but that last blow felt really final.
I was not okay. I was really, really mad. At God? No. At my husband? No. At my situation? No. I was just mad and I couldn’t explain it and I felt like I shouldn’t be.
I reached out. (I do not reach out well.) I didn’t have time to feel like this, but I also didn’t have time to deny how I felt anymore. I had never been in counseling since my eating disorder. In the hospital, I may have been a little traumatized by the Freudian kind of therapy that I received. I didn’t think it could help. But, I needed to process so many things.
A close trusted friend confided in me, “I am in counseling.”
“You are?” I asked. Knowing that is what I needed. I paced for two hours in the kitchen and with sweaty hands called. I was not okay. I needed to process all the things. I write this because many women feel this way. I chose counseling, maybe you need something else. However, I know that it is okay to not be okay.
Here is what I learned:
Angry is sad’s bodyguard. Anger gives us energy and sadness drains us. The anger was a natural response to protect myself. Anger helped me deal with the everyday challenges of a life in chaos. Anger is natural, hurting others out of that anger is not necessary. I have experienced extreme peace after feeling extreme anger. Like a flower growing through concrete.
Time is valuable. I do not need to give my time to everyone (pleasing everyone). I am selective and choose to discern. I also do not need to save everyone. I needed to be there for my husband and girls. I need to maintain close friendships with trusted people, but toxic people, superficial people, and insincere people are not needed in my life. I can pray for them, but I do not need to save them. God does that.
I had to let go of the past. This is not an easy task because the past is what has shaped me. Letting go is never easy. I had to commit to my future to heal from my past. It was not easy and it hurt to feel the emotions that I never allowed myself to feel, but it is worth it. I feel freedom and I have not felt that in forty four years.
I am never alone. My dad and John were always my safe place. That was removed with the death of my father during John’s illness and John concentrating on just getting through the day. There wasn’t a desperate loneliness because I had learned before in many valleys that God holds us. God has always held me. He givs me strength when I was weak. He gives me hope when I am hopeless. He gives me peace when I am unwound. This does not come easily for me, this has been a process of a 26 year relationship with God.
I do not need permission from others to live my life. Since I lived to please, I always needed permission and approval. I do not need that anymore. I give myself permission to not be okay.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25 This does not happen by not having struggle. Strength comes through endurance of doing all the hard things that are asked of us. Dignity often comes from surviving the storm. It is okay to not be okay, but, you must grow through it.
“This is my life.” It is not in terms of good or bad, but messy and real. There is hurt and heart ache along with laughter and contentment. I have people that love me and people that hate me from the depths of their toes. I have amazing friends that have turned into family and stood by me through every high and low. I love these people due to their realness and compassion. They see through the scars, the hurt, the smile, and the distance. I am excited about this life, not because of anything special, but it is mine. God has a way of making good out of the bad, painting beauty with ashes. I see that although my control is minimal, my love is big, my response is real, and the moments are fleeting. It is not perfect, it is very stormy. I am blessed to say, “This is my life.” I am going to try to love every imperfect moment. And if I am not okay today, I will be okay later.