“It’s okay to not be okay.”
We see this phrase on social media or hear it when someone has committed suicide, or perhaps is grieving the death of a loved one. We are always reminded that it’s okay to not be okay. I have to wonder, though, if that’s just something we say because it sounds good, or if we truly mean it when we extend the affirmation to another.
Day after day, we tend to walk on this earth with a boldfaced line of separation between each other. We are so disconnected from all that is true in what we are experiencing. These words tell us that no matter what we are experiencing, it’s okay.
But is it really? We can’t be sure.
So we try to ignore it. We try to ignore that the pain exists at all. We pretend and convince ourselves that we are just overreacting; maybe we weren’t given the right tools to cope, or maybe we’re just being melodramatic.
Humanity, more times than not, is separated into us versus them, good versus bad, positive versus negative, or happy versus sad. Each day we open our eyes to this confusing world in which we live, and we have to pick one. We have to sit there, before we get out of bed, weigh out our options, and pick.
But maybe in that moment, when we feel forced to choose that acceptable emotion of “okay,” we can’t find a place within us to understand our true feelings. So we start to posture ourselves, doing the things that our culture has deemed fit: retail therapy, happy hours, or the gym. We do these things to “fit in” because god-forbid we sit in anything that resembles pain.
If we choose to sit in pain, if we choose to sit in bad, negative, and sad, we sit alone. It is mistaken that this action requires the least physical and mental exertion. It is a mistake to assume that sitting in pain is the easy choice, the coward’s way, to avoid problems.
But what does, “It’s okay to not be okay,” really mean? Sitting in pain is one of the most challenging and confusing human experiences that this world has to offer. But sometimes, we choose it. We choose pain. We choose pain because we are looking to heal something, to accept something, and to wait for that something to change.
Perhaps it is the passage toward the light, the dark tunnel through to the end. Choosing the retail therapy, the happy hours, or the gym to avoid something boiling deep within our souls will never bring us the catharsis we so desperately seek. Because as William Goldman said, “In life there is pain, anyone who says differently is selling something.”
We are constantly trying to sell each other happiness, whether it is a scent you can smell, an idea you can ponder, or a book that can keep you company through the loneliest of times. In doing so, we are mitigating the fact that pain can, and should, be experienced. Pain should never be masked, and it should never be blown off. It should never become us versus them, the good versus the bad, or the positive versus the negative.
We are allowed to feel pain just as we are allowed to feel happiness. Pain, oftentimes, is the rock bottom, the dark foundation in which we find the deep and humble parts of our existence. It is the place within us that screams and begs for relief. It is the moment within our souls that we can admit to our human shortcomings, our human weaknesses. It is in pain that we find miracles.
We find miracles because God loves finding us on our knees. He loves when we can find our place within that screams for mercy, that deep desperation for peace, and for a better tomorrow. When we’re here, He finds joy in the blank canvas we are finally willing to put in front of Him, asking Him to paint the days to come with His grace.
We can find our moments of connection to our higher power in the midst of pain, in the midst of devastation. We can find our prayers answered through the gifted days of genuine happiness. To divide the two as one or the other is to take away the entire beauty of the human experience as a whole.
To divide us, in humanity and culture, as you and me, us and them, is to lose sight of our purpose: to live in love, give love, and receive love.
For nothing else exists but love and compassion. The rest is just simply misinterpretation.
Author: Jaclyn Fleming
Editor: Travis May