Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” ~John Lennon
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It’s okay not to be okay. I’ve heard these words a number of times and have even said them myself, when encouraging others. But, these words have never had such profound meaning and impact for me, as they have as of late. You see, this has been my reality since the middle-end of April. I have not been okay – mentally, emotionally, and physically. And it has been these words, “it’s okay not to be okay,” that I’ve had to continually remind myself of and have ultimately found peace in.
On March 29th, I underwent the very first surgery and hospital patient experience of my life (all three of my children were born at home with a midwife and I had never had any prior surgeries or hospital stays). My three beautiful babies, gave me the gift of an umbilical hernia, which had to be surgically repaired.
On April 17th, I had my post-op appointment, where I was told everything looked great – healing was going well and I need just lay off of yoga for 2 more months and running for 4 more weeks. “Okay, not fun, but I can do this,” I thought. I miss getting on my mat and running beyond measure. But, I told myself, “You must give your body this time to heal. Obey the doctor, get to the middle of June, and you will be back on your mat and the pavement – I got this!”
Never would I have imagined that just a few short days after my post-op appointment on April 17th, I’d start experiencing the same pain that I had been having, prior to having surgery. I quickly called and scheduled an appointment with the surgeon who performed my surgery. I did everything in my power to keep my cool and breathe, leading up to this appointment (reminding myself that thinking the worst never helps a situation).
It was at this appointment that I learned (not even a full month post-op), that another hernia is present and that I have to undergo surgery again. All amidst medical bills pouring in from my first surgery – a surgery that is null and void now – essentially is as though it never occurred, given the other hernia that is now present. So, I’m paying back a significant amount of money for a surgery that was pointless, and now, I have to undergo surgery again?
What followed? Shock, disbelief, insurmountable stress, confusion, devastation, countless tears, anger, frustration, sadness, questioning, sleepless nights, feeling hopeless, crushed, distraught, disconnected, feeling as though I’m in a complete fog – you name it, I felt it. All coupled with physical (many times, debilitating) pain, that often knocks me on my back, on an almost daily basis. Why is this happening? How could this be? An emotional wreck just about sums up how I’ve been the past several weeks.
Here I am – the one who preaches mindfulness, peace, being present, etc., to others every day – and there I was, at home, in a fetal position – sobbing. Was I wrong for feeling this way and crying until my eyes ached? Shouldn’t I be counting the blessings I still have and reminding myself that it could be a lot worse?
As I searched for answers, attended medical appointments, and did my best to get through each day without crumbling – “it’s okay not to be okay,” kept coming up for me. And when I really softened into this and allowed myself to accept this fact (that I didn’t feel okay, and that this was okay), I started to feel lighter. When asked how I was doing, I even started to authentically respond with, “I’m alright,” or “I’m okay,” or “I’m hanging in there,” instead of blurting out a default response of, “I’m good,” or “I’m great.” This felt liberating. The fact of the matter is, I truly did not feel good or great. So, why would I say that I felt that way?
You see, feeling the emotions you’re feeling is the only way to let them run their course. We think we have to be strong all the time. We think we’re not allowed to cry – to admit that we’re not okay. That this is a sign of weakness. Not so. Your feelings and emotions are valid. Having emotions and feelings doesn’t make you weak. Having emotions and feelings makes you a human being. It’s okay not to be okay. You may say you don’t see an end to your emotional pain, but as I have discovered, the only way out of your emotional pain is through it.
Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it’s unpleasant. But, you will come out stronger for having experienced the pain, no matter what you’re dealing with right now.
Admitting that you’re not okay and knowing that it’s okay, is the first step to letting go of the pain.
If you’re loving life right now, that’s wonderful. By the same token, if you’re not okay, I want you to know that that’s okay too. As I said earlier, your feelings and emotions are valid, no matter what they are. It’s important to feel them and own it.
If you’re going through a hard time, seek out the support of people who love you. Take as much time as you need to feel the emotion and recover. Take the time you need to rest, recharge, meditate, pray, get on your mat, and breathe. Take care of yourself.
Above all, be kind to yourself and refuse to let negative feelings trigger you into waging war on yourself. Feel the feelings and emotions and then gently allow them to go. While your feelings and emotions are valid, you are not your feelings. You are not defined by them. I know, for instance, that I am no less of a person for what I am going through right now. I know that despite my myriad of emotions and this being a difficult time, that I will get through this. My determination and will to persevere, is far greater than this circumstance. I am stronger than I give myself credit for and so are you!
March 28th – the last time I was on my yoga mat and out for a run. In the coming weeks – I will be undergoing surgery again – for the second time in 3 months. Is this a difficult time and a challenging space for me to be in? Absolutely – I am not going to sugar coat it. Has sitting with all of this and wrapping my head around all of it been a challenging process? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No way! Will I be back on my yoga mat and the pavement again? For sure – one day, in the foreseeable future. I keep reminding myself that this is simply an intermission – a pause. Is this experience teaching me incredible lessons, growing me, and stretching me? Without a doubt. Are there blessings and silver linings in every struggle in life? No doubt. Am I committed to showing up for myself, my husband, our children, my friends, my family, and our amazing MBFY community despite what I’m going through? Without question. There’s the saying, “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.” This is truly my work and testimony right now. Am I committed to focusing on gratitude, all that is good, and clinging tightly to my faith through all of this? You betcha!
It isn’t easy for me to write this and is an exercise in stepping outside of my comfort zone and vulnerability. I tend to be an open book, but when I am battling something especially difficult, I have the tendency to close off. When you’re upset, sad, and wrapped up in your emotions, isn’t it often so much easier to just stick with our default way of being – hiding, keeping everything bottled up inside, and not opening up? While that may seem like the “easy way,” or “comfortable way,” it’s actually the dis-empowering way. It’s through opening up and sharing that we not only grow and are empowered, but that we inspire others as well. This practice has taught me that to share is truly to care and transform.
So remember, yogis – it’s okay not to be okay – that’s what makes us human. But, also remember that you have to power to change your way of being and make it the way you want it to be. You may not feel okay now, but you absolutely can and will be okay.
Life is not easy – it is constantly throwing obstacles and challenges at us. But, that does not make you any less than what you are. The practice reminds us that at our core, we are love and light. May we feel what we need to feel and then move gently back to our core…the very center of our being – our love and our light. For it is that love and light, that will always see and guide us through – God will never give us more than we can handle.