It’s okay to not be okay

5 years ago when Russell died I made a commitment to myself to live out loud, not let things bottle up inside of me, and be as honest as I could with myself and others about where I was really at in my grief/life journey. For the first year, I didn’t second guess myself very much in following through on this commitment and I strongly believe it helped me navigate the emotional waters of early grief. And then, somewhere in that second year, I began to tell myself I was still committed to these things but I started second guessing myself a whole lot. I started saying or writing less and I started bottling things up more. That has not served me very well and actually make navigating any deep emotional waters way more challenging. My work coaching with the horses recently is helping me see how I need to make some shifts. They call me to be real and honest and feel my feelings! I am reminded of the importance for my own mental health to live out loud and share more story.

Today, I am reminded that it is okay to not be okay right now and to just honestly stop trying to act like I am. The ONE thing that has gotten me through the Christmas holidays each year since Russell died has been having all of my kids with me. Having us all together has infused me with enough joy and love and feeling of rightness that I’ve been able to want to celebrate. When we are all together I feel as whole as I possibly can. For those days, all is right with my world.

This year, as we inch closer to Christmas, I honestly could care less that it is happening. Because of reality of the pandemic and the massive surges happening throughout out world, we have made the very difficult decision to not have Kateri come home this Christmas. We are taking the warnings from the healthcare community very seriously. We are listening to our friends and family who are already exhausted beyond comprehension with how overloaded the system is. We are aware that a few of us have some factors that put at us at a higher risk level. We have lived the reality of having a loved one die in an ICU unit after a very sudden, unexplained illness. We are not willing to take chances this year that could possibly put us at a higher risk of losing someone we love.

Am I okay with our decision? Yes, in the sense that I believe we are making a joint, smart, safe choice. And no, in the sense that I will miss her more than I can possibly say.

I do not know who I will be seeing in my family this year during the holidays. I do not know what traditions will have to postponed until another year. I do not know what new traditions might unfold as we strive to create new ways of feeling some joy and connection. I do not know so very many things.

I do know that I will find ways to connect, to express my love, to feel joy and also to honor that things are not the same as they have been. I do know that I am uber sensitive to all of us in the world who are making REALLY hard choices to say no to parties and meeting with people in person outside of what we absolutely HAVE to do. I do know that I will say no to almost everything extra this year because if I feel it isn’t safe to be with my daughter and my other family members, it would feel very inauthentic and hypocritical to say yes to other things. I do know that I will continue to take one step in front of the other and be okay when I am okay, and not be okay when I am not okay.

For every single one of you struggling right now, IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY ALL OF THE TIME. And, it is okay to be honest about that. Find people who can hold space for you until you feel okay again.

We’ve got this!