“…not OK”. How simple and little… but how very hard it is to say these words. ‘Normal Life’, dressed up in its busyness and schedules, left little time for random fears, sudden teary-ness or introspection. But time stretches now like elastic… longer and longer, endlessly going in circles some days and then – ping! – it’s Thursday again and time to head out for The Clapping and wonder where the week went?
But “…not OK” matters. It says, “I’m still here, and I’m still noticing”. Right now, the world needs the ‘welling-up-but-not-quite-sure-why’ moments over a thousand respectable-yet-unaware, “Fine, thanks”. The colleague who drops the ‘elephant in the Zoom’ on screen with the “I’m just about holding on” moment. These remind us that we are alive – that we are feeling, hurting and wounded people, and that we’ll need time to recover.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and so a ‘good’ time to voice the sadness of all that is – for now – lost. Like a child to ‘let it out’ – there is a wisdom in our bodies that cannot be ignored, so trust the great wave of sadness to carry you through the tears and swirl of emotion and then land you back, tired but safe upon the beach. To remember that your pain is no less than anyone else’s –don’t judge it but feel it and maybe be brave enough to say the magic words aloud to someone else: “…not OK”.
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection” , Brené Brown writes, and that need for connection, written so deep within our DNA that we’ve gathered in community throughout history is surely calling out in pain as we are all now separated. From the very eldest to the youngest, we are cut-off from what we most need – each other. And so, in vulnerability and pain, I’m glad when I hear the quiet voices of “…not OK” and offer mine up within that hurting chorus. “I’m not OK. How are you?”