She stops by the church office to pick up a few things. We chat, mostly small talk, and, as she turns to leave, she asks, “How are you?”
She has this way of asking as if it’s the most important question you’ll answer today, as if she longs to know, as if the answer actually matters. A smile reaches her eyes and spreads across her face, head slightly tilts, as she awaits my reply.
I pause. “I’m doing really well.”
I didn’t mean for the answer to come out the way it did, as if I was surprised by my own words. I’m doing well.
“Do you not often stop to think about it?” she smiles.
“Outside of therapy, no. That’s my one hour a week to really stop and think and deconstruct things. Other than that I really try not to.”
Before I knew it we were swapping stories of therapy, about when we first realized we were beginning to heal, about how early life experiences left deep scars, about how our lives are complex and beautiful messes, about how we struggle still and compare and despair.
“I’ve come to realize,” she says after a pause, “That wherever I am, it’s ok.”
Wherever I am, it’s ok. The years it’s taken me to realize this! In times of joy, it’s ok. In times of pain, it’s ok. In times of suicidal thoughts, it’s ok. In times of guilt and shame, it’s ok. In times of struggle, it’s ok. In times of hope, it’s ok. In times of growth, it’s ok. In times where my mind is spinning and I don’t even know what to think or say or do, it’s ok.
It doesn’t mean that you haven’t been wronged, that you haven’t made mistakes, that you haven’t suffered or won’t continue to, but it means that those feelings you have, the ones that are suffocating you, are natural and real and it is ok to feel them. You are ok to feel them.
It’s so easy to wish to be “there” already– to be depression free, to be whole, to be fulfilled, to be hope-filled. When really, all I need to do is be. And that can be the hardest thing, to sit with discomfort, really sit with it, until it rattles in your bones.
I agree with Terry Tempest Williams when she says, “I fear silence because it leads me to myself, a self I may not wish to confront. It asks me to listen. And in listening I am taken to an unknown place. Silence leaves me alone in a place of feeling. It is not necessarily a place of comfort.”
When is the last time you left yourself in a place of feeling? It’s terrifying. It’s strange. It’s uncomfortable. But, it’s ok. And so are you.