This was my first week back at work since losing you. I dreaded this week with everything in me. It’s not that I didn’t want to go back to work…it isn’t that bad…but it’s because I feel like the world is moving on too quickly and I’m just not ready. I feel like by going back to work, it’s like I’m admitting I am able to function, I’m able to focus, and I’m ready to start putting my life back together. But the truth is, I’m none of those things. I’m getting better at pretending to function, and I’m getting better at faking my way through tasks, but the truth is, everything reminds me of you. And when something reminds me of you, I can’t stop thinking about you. This results in a constant flood of emotions, because I still miss you more and more with every day that passes. I’m getting better at talking about you without crying. This makes me feel like I am giving people the impression that I’m “getting over” you, which I can assure you isn’t ever going to happen. I’m just so tired of crying. I’m so tired of crying I’ve learned how take a mental hold over myself so that even when I’m broken and devastated, craving the feeling of holding you in my arms, I can talk about you and not have a breakdown. Every time I do this I feel like I’m betraying you in some way, even though I know it’s not true. But even though it’s so hard right now, so hard to get through each day, there are happy things. I talked about you today for a long time, about all of the miracles we’ve seen because of you, and all the lives you’ve changed. It’s so hard to navigate through all the emotions I feel, because I’m feeling so many things at the same time. But the bottom line is, I love you so much. I miss you as much as I love you. I hate that things are the way they are, but I am learning how to live with this as our reality. I love you so much, sweet girl. Your Daddy loves you too. But I’m sure you already know that.
I’ve been struggling lately, with something that makes me sound like a crazy person. I’ve been struggling with whether or not I’m okay. When someone asks me how I’m doing, my natural response is to say “okay.” Sometimes I change up the tone. Sometimes I add a “meh,” and sometimes I throw in a shrug. You can convey a lot with just saying “okay,” and it sounds a lot better than “I feel roughly ten thousand emotions every second of every day, and I don’t really know how to handle that.” It makes you sound somewhat normal. It is a socially acceptable answer to give to someone. It’s a cop-out.
Screw social acceptability.
To everyone who has asked me how I’m doing and had me give you some half-hearted response, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that our world teaches us to live our lives on a surface level, and that it is better to hide than to face things that might be difficult. I’m sorry for blaming my cowardly behavior on what the world has taught me. I’m sorry for taking the easy way out, and not being real with you.
Do you know how much we miss out on by not being real with each other?
A freaking crap-ton. A butt-load. Did you know that a butt-load is an actual real life measurement? It is the equivalent of 126 gallons. I didn’t believe it either. Google it.
I think I’m going to stop being socially acceptable. Other than in rules of the wardrobe. I will remain fully clothed. But other than that, I will am going to stop doing what I think the world says to do, because I feel like the world tells us we need to hide from our true feelings, we need to hide from ourselves, we need to portray ourselves as perfectly put together people, and I think that’s stupid. Essentially what the world is telling us to do is to avoid anything that might be difficult or uncomfortable. It might be difficult to answer someone honestly when they ask me how I’m doing. It might make someone uncomfortable. And heaven forbid we actually get to know each other. We might find out that we are all flawed human beings. That would be horrible. Hope that secret doesn’t get out…what would we do if we found out that we all had struggles? We might just not know what to do with ourselves.
Or we would discover the universe doesn’t revolve around us, we’d get over ourselves, and we’d start focusing on things like being decent to everyone around us.
Gee, that’d be terrible, wouldn’t it?
So, to get the ball rolling on that, and to encourage you to be honest when people ask you how you are doing, here we go. Want to know how I’m doing?
I feel roughly ten thousand emotions every minute of every day, and it’s really hard to know how to handle it. Sometimes I feel good, like I have a good grip on my reality. And .37 seconds later I can literally physically not breathe, because I remembered that my reality sucks. But simultaneously, I’m so grateful for so many things. And simultaneously, I’m laughing, because I am actually happy. And simultaneously, I am experiencing deep, deep, gut-wrenching pain. It’s all very confusing. How can I be happy and sad at the same time? It doesn’t seem like it should be possible, but I am, and so it must be. I am so many things, and trying to find a word to describe how I’m doing seems literally impossible.
I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately, because I don’t want to lie to people when they ask me if I’m okay, but I could literally spew out any emotion and not have it be a lie. How can I be honest with people if I feel like an absolute crazy person?
Wise, kind, gentle, Nathan.
Nathan, who always says what I need to hear, even if it isn’t what I want to hear.
We were having our nightly conversation about how we are doing, and I expressed my frustration with me not knowing how to answer the question. I expressed that any time I answer that question, no matter what I say, I feel like I’m being fake or dishonest. Not even knowing how to answer the question to myself is equally frustrating. How can I work on taking steps forward in life if I don’t even know where I stand? How can I be anything when I am feeling everything?
Then Nathan asked me a question that caught me off guard. “What would it look like for you to consider yourself as not doing well?”
I pondered for a moment and then saying “I think I’d be doing poorly if I was angry and bitter and couldn’t find a way to move away from that.”
“Are you those things?”
Then Nathan went on to explain himself, and it made a lot of sense. He said that our new definition of “okay” would never be the same as it used to be. Before “okay” would have meant work was fine, the day was fine, blah, blah, blah. No true sustenance to the definition. But now, we have to have a bit of a reality check. Ayden is gone, and that will always be a painful reality. Our “okay” means we aren’t angry and bitter. It means we are hurting, but we are living. We are hurting, but still laughing. We are hurting, but still giving love and accepting love. It simply means something completely different than it used to, and that’s okay. We can have the best day of our life, and it will still not be void of the pain of losing Ayden. That is simply our reality, and that is okay. Not being okay means we are only focusing on the pain and the loss, and we can’t focus on anything else. We can’t recognize joy, we can’t find anything to be grateful for, we can’t see the hope. Then we would not be okay.
My “okay” will never be the same. And I have to accept it, and be okay with it. I won’t ever be okay with the fact that Ayden is gone, but I can accept the fact that things are simply different now.
So when I say that I’m “okay” know that I’m not lying to you. I really am okay. I really am happy. I really am able to enjoy life. I really am still heartbroken. I really do still miss my little girl more and more every day. I really do still desperately wish I could hold her in my arms. But I am not living in a constant state of anger and bitterness, and that is good.
So, friends, how are you doing? How is your “okay” defined? What does it look like if you are not okay? And if you aren’t okay, what do you need to do to become okay? And I don’t mean what other people can do to make you okay. Becoming okay is a choice, and it is one that only you can make. If you are not okay with your life, you need to figure out what you need to do to become okay. What do you need to work on, what changes do you need to make? Really. I’d love to hear from you.
Let’s start being honest with each other. Let’s be real with each other. Maybe we could stop focusing on our own pain, which tends to blind us from seeing what others are going through. Screw social norms.
Let’s start by deciding to stop hiding from ourselves. Then let’s stop hiding from each other.
If we can’t learn to do those two simple things, I don’t think we will ever really learn to be okay