I'm NOT OK. And that's just fine with me.
I am known for my positivity. My general nature and outlook IS, in fact, positive and upbeat. It’s the way I am wired. It’s how I have survived adversity. I can find a silver lining in literally anything. I can shift the way we view any problem. I can make anything seem better.
Just because I can, though, doesn’t mean I should. More and more, I realize that the search for a positive spin can be a great place to hide. A way to avoid what I am really feeling. A way to skip the pain that is so necessary to truly heal.
As I sit here with ugly stitches across the entire left side of my face, I am losing the battle with the need to make this OK.
To quickly bring you up to speed: I had a tiny sore on my nose that wouldn’t heal. I ignored it for 6 months, convincing myself daily that it was “getting better.” (I know… what a dumbass) When I finally had it biopsied- it was a basal cell carcinoma. No biggie. Not the deadly, spreading kind of skin cancer- the kind you remove and move on quickly from. Except. I left it way too long, and it was in a BAD spot. The worst, apparently. A place with no cartilage or independent blood flow. Who knew?
It would require a special kind of surgery to remove it, and then a 2 stage reconstruction. We are talking 3 nasty, nasty surgeries on my face, and 4-6 weeks before I would want to be seen in public, the plastic surgeon said. I heard him, and remained firmly in denial. It wouldn’t be that bad, I was sure of it.
I had it done last week. It was worse than I ever imagined. FUCK.
At first, I tried to tell myself how great this time in isolation would be. I made a mental list of home projects I’d been putting off, movies I hadn’t watched, books I hadn’t yet read, and genuinely got excited about the possibilities. “It’s OK! This time is a gift!” I told myself.
And that might all be true. Eventually.
When the tears fell, I criticized myself. “Stop it! It could be SO much worse,” I scolded. “You will be fine, and this is a superficial inconvenience. It’s OK! You are not dying for God’s sake.”
That is also true. Seriously. I am lucky. It could be way worse.
When I felt sad upon realizing I can’t immediately launch the book I have worked on for three years, or lead my class in our studio showcase, or watch Samantha play in one of the last lacrosse tournaments of her senior year, I told myself, “This is but a moment in time. It will be over before you know it and it will all be behind you. There are so many good things to come. It’s OK!”
True again. Except for the “It’s OK” part.
No matter how much I try and convince myself, it doesn’t feel OK.
It hurts - physically and emotionally. This feels like total fucking shit. It’s actually NOT OK. Not even a little bit.
Today, I finally see what I’ve been missing in my desperate and needy search for a silver lining.
In trying to will everything to be OK when it isn’t- I am refusing to accept the truth. I am hiding out, caught up in some strange ideas about how I “should” be handling this. I am denying myself the right I have to feel how much this sucks, which is as much a necessity for an honest human experience as the good stuff we so desperately seek.
The truth- this is painful. Just as our strengths are unique to each of us, our pain is unique as well. If we deny ourselves the right to feel any aspect of whatever it is because we are comparing our experience to someone or something else - or needing to make it OK when it isn’t- we fail to live fully. We deny ourselves opportunities to feel the full range and depth of ourselves- and that is how we know what we are truly made of. This pain, I am allowed to feel it. Shit I need to feel it. It will all be superficial crap until I allow myself the luxury of feeling the full weight of how much this hurts. Only then can I begin to fully heal.
I’m not OK. None of this is OK. I fucking hate it. I am not graceful about it, I am not positive or cheery- and- for the first time in a long time- I am sitting in the full weight of how pissed off, frustrated, angry and sad I actually am.
But here is the strangest part. In admitting that I am NOT OK, I suddenly feel like I am.
If you are NOT OK but feel like you should be, fuck it.
It’s OK to NOT BE OK. I am with you.