Why It’s Okay to Not be Okay.

I don’t have an issue when it comes to re-connecting with people I haven’t seen in a long time.  There’s definitely a refreshing element to that connection.  You get to hear about where they’ve been the past few months or in my case–years.  But as of late, I’ve never felt more empty when conversing about my life. And where I’m at. I don’t feel present in the conversation.  It’s as if I’m having this complete outer body experience.  My body is there but my soul is elsewhere.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m excited to talk to you.  I’m excited to see what’s been going on in your life.  So excited in fact that I’m willing to pretend that everything’s fine with me just so I can see how you feel.  And truthfully, I just want to live vicariously through you for a second.  I know, I know.  I’m being completely one-sided in this exchange.  I’ve become obsessed with just closing myself off and pretending that nothing is wrong.  I’ve become so used to the whole ‘let’s just bury it and everything will be fine’ routine. So, whenever I see someone that I haven’t seen for a long time this is the usual exchange…

Other Person: “I haven’t seen you in such a long time! How are you?”

Myself:  “I’m okay.  Same stuff, ya know.  Working.  How are you?”

I’m going to be real with you—I’m actually not okay.  And I’ve never felt so good about saying that.  It honestly feels like a dam breaks every time I say it out loud.  It feels better than saying that everything is fine when it isn’t.  But if it feels good to admit that you’re not okay, then why am I so programmed to just say the same jargon every time?  Why do we just say that we’re good or we’re okay when we’re not?  How did this come to be?  

Clearly, I’ve been thinking about this a lot…

 

Here’s the thing, I don’t like people being aware when something is wrong with me.  I generally try to evade any questioning by saying that I don’t want to talk about it or that I’m just really tired.  I’ve used that excuse a lot especially when I was going through some serious stuff in high school.  It’s almost like a defense mechanism.  And it works.  When you say you’re tired it’s like having a hall pass and automatically excuses you from discussing anything that ‘might’ be bothering you.  There seems to be this verbal door that I’ve learned to shut just for the sake of preventing someone from getting anything additional out of me.

Maybe you’re not like me.  Maybe you’re incredibly open with your thoughts and feelings.  Maybe you have this natural ability to trust someone so easily.  If so, that’s great.  I wish I could be more like you, honestly.  But over the years, I’ve kind of lost faith in being open with others.  Opening up to others takes time for me.  I don’t even share stuff with my own mother.  As a result, I’ve put up this gigantic barrier magically guarded by Jason Segel channeling Gandalf…

I feel so incredibly fake whenever I tell someone that everything is fine when it isn’t.  But that’s the reason why we respond with the whole ‘everything is fine’ bit, isn’t it?  We’re all trying to avoid this third ring of hell which is filled with sympathetic hugs, ‘comforting’ phrases and just a tad bit of awkwardness.   And then we are immediately thrust into this environment of well, I really shouldn’t have said anything at all-I’ll just go to my corner.  Now each time they see me they’re going to know about all my issues and they are going to treat me like I’m fragile…  
Admitting that you’re okay when you’re really not is like revealing only the tip of the iceberg.  I just don’t want people to know what’s really going on beneath the surface. You see the tip bobbing along but you’re completely unaware of the icy shape that’s underneath.  They are unaware of how many problems truly exist.  I’ve become comfortable with that way of living.  It’s easier.  And that way of living is completely unhealthy from what I’ve been told.    But even if it’s unhealthy, I continue to remain closed off.  There have been times where I have opened up and dumped all my issues on people who’ve asked and I’ve immediately regretted it.  And here’s why…

“You just need to toughen up….”  

 

Revealing that you’re not okay doesn’t mean that you’re weak.  It doesn’t mean that you’re a fragile flower.  It means that you care.  You care about your life and that you desperately want to change it for the better.  You’re frustrated about certain things and you’re not okay with it.  It’s not about moving on or toughening up.  It is about venting your frustrations without judgment or criticisms.  And maybe that’s the real problem.  People have zero empathy for others.  They tell you to brush it off and move on.  Maybe that type of ‘tough’ love works for people.  But I’ve never thought of it as being effective.  I associate that with being ‘brushed’ off.  Instead of finding solutions or venting about your issues, you’re met with this cold response from someone who thinks the world is tough anyway and your problems are common.  And to be honest, I hate that.  You confess how you feel, you let yourself become vulnerable for just a second and then they turn on you.  And it’s no wonder that I say everything is fine when it isn’t.  It’s no wonder I have a difficult time opening up to others.  I’m kind of tired of people turning on me…

But there’s this other side of the coin.  Maybe you just don’t want to make someone uncomfortable.  For example; if I told you why I have PTSD, it would probably make you uncomfortable.  Or maybe the fact that I see a therapist weekly.  You probably wouldn’t even know what to say or think.  You’d stand there with this giant lump in your throat wondering how in the hell you’re going to get out of this conversation.  
A lot of people have tried offering me advice.  And bless their hearts for trying.  Whether it’s positivity, taking a mental health day or writing more posts–I appreciate their input but sadly it falls on deaf ears.  And here’s why.  You do more for a person who is frustrated by listening than by speaking.  And that’s all that it takes.  Listening.  You do more with just lending an ear than providing advice that you deem fit for that person.  Can you just sit there and listen to me without judgment?  That moves serious mountains…

 

So, here it is–I’m not okay.  I’m frustrated.  And I’m going to make a serious effort to improve my well-being.

And until things improve, I’m going to follow Professor Lupin’s advice…

So, here’s my question—Are you really okay when you say you’re okay?  Or is it all a big front?

xx

Meg

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