It’s okay to not feel okay

“The first and truest thing is that all truth is a paradox. Life is both a precious, unfathomably beautiful gift, and it’s impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It’s been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It’s so hard and weird that we sometimes wonder if we’re being punked. It’s filled simultaneously with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, desperate poverty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together. I don’t think it’s an ideal system.” – Anne Lamott

Today, I didn’t want to write. I wanted to stay in bed and go back to sleep. I didn’t want to put on pants. I wanted to eat goldfish, chocolate almonds, and Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough ice cream. I went on a 4 and half mile walk. I took another walk with Deaven and Waylon on the deserted beach. Much like any other distraction, I felt better for a moment.

I know I should eat healthy, so I go to the grocery store, buy food, and make meals for us. I know I should clean, so Deaven and I sweep and mop the floors, do the dishes, take out the trash and recycling, and I organize spaces and containers I’ve put off.  I know I should exercise so I take long walks and do my workout videos. I know I should write, so I write what I think. I’m not writing to feel better. I’m writing to put to words what I feel. I think I should feel better.

Today, I don’t.

When I’m swimming in an ocean, I swim far out in the water and then push up my legs and hips. My body floats on the waves. I stare at the sky above me. I close my eyes and listen. I listen to the sounds in the sky above or the ocean noises when my ears dip below the surface. I feel calm and weightless as I float above it all.

Instead of diving in, I’ve been floating on top of the waves of panic. Today, I let the waves of panic wash over me. I was too tired to fight. I sank and drowned in the salty sadness. I woke up with the weight of the world heavy on chest worrying about everyone else who have bigger worries—emotionally, financially, and physically. I feel like I am simultaneously doing too little and too much. I am doing a piss-poor job of helping others, and I feel helpless. What am I contributing? I am young and able-bodied. Who am I complain? I live in a gorgeous place, with people I love, and am not worried about losing my home or my future. I worry, sheltered in my home, about my family, friends, and strangers. How do I support and advocate for others?

I take the precautions, but I feel removed from the devastation of the virus. I’m angry at the people who aren’t taking this seriously, and I’m angry at myself for not taking it seriously a month ago. I’m not in the hospitals. I’m not working an essential job. I hear about the deaths as numbers. Texas, my home state, is hard hit. I watch from afar. I read articles about the people who have died to grieve for them. I try my best to remember them and honor them as people who had full lives. I grieve for those still fighting across the world. I grieve for the families who have lost loved ones and those who are separated. I grieve for the people who are fearing for their lives, who are wondering how they’re going to pay for their next meal, who are stuck in unhappy homes, who are going to a job that puts them at risk to pay the bills. I grieve for everything we’ve lost. I’ve read the articles about good things happening. I’ve shared the articles about good things happening. Today, I’ll share in the grief, and I’ll try not to feel bad about doing so.

I’m feeling ashamed for not wanting to do anything. I am irritable and easily annoyed. I feel the tightness in my chest. I take shallow breaths. I feel as if I may cry and often wish I would have a tangible reason. I feel bad for crying. I get angry with myself when I’m sad. I hate feeling this way.

I hate feeling anything that may put a burden on someone else. I hide away when I feel hopeless. I don’t want to tell anyone. I push others away, so they don’t have to carry my dead weight. It only makes it worse. I want to scream about it in a void, suddenly feel better, and not talk to anyone about feeling bad. I want to walk in a room with my mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and wife with a smile on my face. I want to spread joy, kindness, and happiness to others and hide from them when I can’t. I don’t want my family to worry about me. It’s a stressful time when I’m full of fear and anxiety. They know how depression whispers you-are-an-ugly-nothing in my ear.  

Despite wanting to shield my family from my pain, I called my mom and told her I miss her and my family. I’m sad I can’t see the progress on the house they’re building in person. I’m sad I can’t help. I was sad I couldn’t hug them or come visit. I was sad to feel so far away from them. She said she was sad, too, and cried with me. Even though I didn’t want her to be sad, I also felt less alone crying with her.

I’m angry at myself for being sad, scared, frustrated, and full of grief. I’m scared to expose myself. I’m angry at myself for feeling so afraid of the future. I’m angry at myself for fearing and worrying about things that are out of my control. I’m angry, embarrassed, and ashamed that I lost control of my emotions today. I don’t have to feel better right now. I’ll try to feel okay about feeling anything.

From Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico

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