Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Existential Examen (Day 11)

Are you a podcast listener?  I am.  Before YouTube was a 'thing', I listened to podcasts, and I still do.  I listen mainly when walking, but also, sometimes, when gardening, if I can manage to keep my aged iPod in my pocket!  And sometimes I listen with my laptop, as I stitch or knit or quilt.

I have a few favourites; one of those is produced by To The Best of Our Knowledge (www.ttbook.org).  Yesterday, out walking, I listened to a rebroadcast of a piece that originated back in June 2022.  It's entitled, "You're Not Okay -- and That's Okay." 

As folks say in the current vernacular: "That really resonated with me."

It started with a yard sign back in the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I hope it continues.  "It" is this: being vulnerable and brave enough -- in a culture that incessantly pursues happiness -- to say, "I'm not okay."  Being vulnerable and brave enough to solicit empathy and connection -- not pity and isolation.

Being raised in the "Keep Calm and Carry On" tradition -- which my DH and I tried to pass on to our kids, with less-than-stellar results -- I'm not very good at letting people know that 

  1. I'm not okay;
  2. I've not been okay for a long time; and
  3. I don't expect to every be fully okay this side of heaven.
In fact, I'm more than "not very good" at it; I'm terrible at it.

But in this, my 71st year, I'm taking a good hard look at my stiff upper lip, and the angst it's caused in my life, and (I expect) inter-generationally.

There are times when we all need to "Keep Calm and Carry On".  I'd have made a pitiful nurse and incompetent businesswoman if I'd worn my heart -- and my emotions -- on my sleeve in each and every stressful circumstance.  I'm not advocating that.

But what I'm learning is that not having a safe place in which to fall, to fail, to deal with all the emotions hidden inside while one is Keeping Calm and Carrying On, is traumatic.  And eventually, the trauma comes home to roost.

Today, I'm grateful for Charles Monroe-Kane and his yard sign.  I'm grateful for permission to follow his lead, and to not only be "not okay", but to admit it here, on the page.  I'm grateful for friends and family with whom I can connect when I'm feeling particularly "not okay" (some days I'm more "not okay" than others!).  And I'm grateful for the lessons in trauma, vulnerability and courage I'm learning from folks like him, and Brene Brown and Gabor Mate and others.

I'm not okay.
You're probably not okay too.
And that's okay.

No comments: