Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts

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BigGreenSee123

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Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« on: September 27, 2015, 08:13:01 PM »
I wasn't sure which board this topic might belong in, I hope this is the right place for it...

I like thinking about my dreams. Whether or not they have some inherent meaning to them, I think they can provide the metaphor for things we are trying to work out - just the same way as any other story (e.g. from books, movies, etc.) can. I had one once about this guy who learned he was to be the second coming of Christ. [I know talking about religion can trip some people up - it certainly can for me - but I hope you'll be able to see beyond the religious symbols here] Some people weren't too happy about this so they were chasing him down, trying to get him before he can wield his Christ-like powers and change the world. All he had to do to be safe, though, was to make it to this one church. If he could get away from the vigilantes long enough to get there, then he'd officially be Christ and be alright.

And he did, he made it to the church and met with the priest who was waiting for him. This priest did nothing, really, but was expecting him. So once this guy got there and got to him he knew he was alright. It was only then that he broke down, fell to the floor under the sorrow and fear and responsibility of the title which has been bestowed upon him. And though it was never a vivid part of my dream I feel like I knew that he would really, truly be okay. That eventually he'd be able to stand back up and take on the responsibility of his new role.

I think about this dream a lot. I think about this man and him falling to the floor under the weight of his emotions. As I said, I don't know if dreams have inherent meaning. But I do know this scene has turned into a meaningful image for me. I feel like that man - fleeing evil, trying to make it to the place where I will finally be okay. I think I've spent the vast majority of my life looking for my own church, the place where I am finally safe and able to fall under the weight of the world. The place where I am finally okay enough to not be okay.

It makes me think of children, too. The frozen child, afraid, who breaks down once she is back in her mother's arms. Ironic, in a way, how this can go. It is only when she is okay - back in the safety of her parent's presence - that she can fully be not okay. I sometimes think this is a way to define and even understand what we call trauma. Trauma is when you can't (due to external or internal circumstances) get to the place where you are okay to not be okay. So you never fall under the weight of the burden you've faced, and then you can never move forward. You can't go anywhere because you're still looking for that place where you are safe. So you get stuck... for a few months or a few years or a lifetime. You are stuck, still fleeing the vigilantes, still looking for the church.

I find this idea extremely difficult for many reasons - but the one I have been thinking about, the one I would like to talk about now, is how hard it is to reconcile myself with the idea that it is okay to not be okay. This becomes especially hard, I think, living in a social climate where the norm, in my opinion (though this may be more influenced by my upbringing than I'm aware), is that you should be trying to be okay. "Be happy," "look on the bright side," "turn that frown upside down." How often are we told it's okay to be angry or sad or afraid?

Recently, I feel like things have been difficult. And whenever this happens it is most certainly challenging, of course. But I do recognize another side to it. Sometimes, at the peak of pain, it feels so honest there's a refreshing quality to it. And when I am feeling "fine," it's like I can still sense this something inside of me that has not gone anywhere, this pain that has yet to get it's time. It's like it's not okay to push for not being okay, so I must pretend to be okay when I'm really not.

But I do struggle with this. I feel guilty, wanting to not be okay. I feel like it's counter to the message that's out there, that it's counter to what I should be trying to do, it's counter to the point of me being in therapy. I feel like even my therapist would find fault with this desire, the longing to not be okay. I feel like it would make me an easy target for that dreaded label in certain psychological circles - "resistant." After all, the aim is to get better, right? So then I must work at being better!...right?

I go back and forth on this, though. Because over the years I feel there's been a steady confidence growing in me that this need to put a positive spin on everything causes more harm than good. Instead, I think it's more helpful to follow the sentiment of, "You're not okay, and I'm not okay, and it's okay." And I know it is what I long for. I am still searching for the place where I can finally fall under the weight of my own pain. And I am longing for the person who will finally agree with me that it's not okay, and, rather than fault me for that or tell me how change, could just accept that that's true.

I don't know, I struggle with this a lot. I just wonder if anyone else can relate or has thoughts on the matter.

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Dyess

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2015, 09:32:57 PM »
BGS123 welcome to the forum. Being okay with not being okay is a pretty broad topic. If you are okay with not being okay, why should anyone judge you for that? I've come to realize that going through all this that it has caused so much change from the life I once had and enjoyed. I have changed. The changes are obvious to the people that know me and to myself. I really don't think I can be that person or be in that exact life now. I think people that know and love us want the old person back, even I want that but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. So others and myself need to accept who I am now and be okay with that.
I'm fairly new to all this and right now I want to do all I can, by learning from others and using a T to get back what I can. Once we have done all we can then it's time to accept the new me. Even at that point I feel like I will not be okay, but it is something I can manage. Make sense? I can only speak on how this relates to myself since we all have a different journey and past. Do what makes you happy and the others will come around in time.

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woodsgnome

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2015, 01:03:05 AM »
Three years ago I was in a heavy place. Nothing new there, but an old inner message kept telling me, "if only" I'd get it right this time, find the fix, I'd be over the hump. Back to where I should be. Albeit I'd never reached where I should be in the first place, if I even knew what that was. Still I forged ahead; I'd already done so much work on myself, I had to be close. Right? Please?

So I signed up for another round of therapy. I'd been in lots before--some good, some not, some neutral, and some dreadful experiences. But this time I was determined it would be different, no matter what.

Well, the therapy itself was of the neutral sort, and when the T moved what followed was the chit chatty sort of fill-in-the-blanks therapy. Meanwhile I'd run across some books on self-acceptance and they turned out to be the better therapy, more what I needed to learn. So I've chosen acceptance as the starting point for my healing journey.

Acceptance doesn't mean resignation to fate, because part of what one accepts is the ability to choose options. But it does reflect the reality of “that was then, this is now” thinking. I found acceptance wasn't a tacit form of “just get over it”. That can't be done; but neither can one change things that happened, or even the thoughts that rush through about them. How can one not accept what already happened? And the thoughts rush in all the time, unexpectedly, despite one's best efforts to ignore or undo them.

The pain, the failure, the sadness is all there whether we choose it or not. The “positive” thinkers by insisting on constant upbeat thoughts can't do it any better. They set themselves up for disappointment and failure when, inevitably, they have a “bad” thought, an angry one, etc., and realize they're not perfect. It's stress of the highest magnitude; brought on by the need to be always positive.

But when you accept that it's okay not to be okay, it releases the tension of having to always get it right. It doesn't undo any of the “stuff” from before, but in accepting even those unpleasant thoughts it's easier to find a path from which we can move forward.

Acceptance doesn't need a goal, requires no program, and makes no grand promises. It's a healing journey, not a destination, like recovery implies. Within acceptance, one retains that spark we all started with—the curiosity to discover new ways of being. 

Along the trail of acceptance, we can feel okay, and learn that it's okay to accept our healing, its good and bad parts, the tears and laughter, joy and pain. By doing so we can unlearn the “happiness is everything” mantra that sounds wonderful, but doesn't reflect our true nature.

 

 
« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 02:25:45 AM by woodsgnome »

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arpy1

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 09:55:52 AM »
BGS123, what an interesting pondering.  i personally have a bad history with 'positive thinking' and i find it difficult to be unbiased.

i spent decades toiling under its yoke in many forms, and garnered little other than fear, along with guilt, shame and failure. 

i finally came to the conclusion that whilst the theory is very persuasive, in real life, the power of positive thinking was actually the power only to deny the realities of what i was feeling - so, basically, for me, suppression of any negative thought or feeling and the forcing of myself to 'believe' positive ones in the hope that somehow the positive declarations, the 'right beliefs' would magically lead to the 'right' feelings. it didn't work. seriously didn't work. it only compounded the damage to my psyche.

so i have a big issue with anything that makes me feel like i have to somehow squeeze and scrunch my brain into a denial of the reality of my lived experience.  not saying that it's a 'correct' issue, or the 'right way to feel' but it's how i feel. and i refuse any more to pretend that things are ok when they demonstrably aren't.

as i  am learning more about self-compassion, that seems to me to be key;

i am allowed to forgive myself for not feeling the 'right' feelings, thinking the 'right' thoughts; i am allowed to be not ok. i don't have to tell myself off. i can be where i am in the process and still be safe. it is safe to be 'not ok', i guess that's what i am learning.

it's odd, but what woodsgnome has posted here kind of gels with me. acceptance is a much closer thing to self-compassion in my mind.  it is less the big stick to 'get it right' and more the gentle urging to learn and grow.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2015, 10:14:05 AM »
Nice post arpy. Well put.
Quote
i refuse any more to pretend that things are ok when they demonstrably aren't.
What a * of a task that is, no?
For me it is, at least.

 :hug:

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BigGreenSee123

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2015, 01:54:54 PM »
I definitely agree with what's been said - I do believe that acceptance, self compassion, and living in accordance with what's true for me is more helpful than always trying to be "happy." But this is one of those things where my beliefs only seem to take me so far. To live by these beliefs has been quite the challenge.

Partly, I think, it's because I'm always worrying about other people's responses, not just my own. I want others to accept how I feel, probably more than I want my own acceptance. And I think that limits me, always waiting on other people, always trying to figure out what is acceptable to someone else and changing to try and fit. I can't let go of it, though.

The other big hurdle for me is just the feelings themselves. To accept hopeless or fear requires that you kind of allow yourself to sink into these things. As much as I'd like to accept what is true, how do I do so when what is true is that I feel like the world is falling apart?

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woodsgnome

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2015, 05:25:04 PM »
BigGreenSee123 wrote:

"To accept hopeless or fear requires that you kind of allow yourself to sink into these things."

It's not that one consciously allows it, it happens anyway; allowance isn't the same as acceptance. Trying to stop it is like saying don't think about something for the next 30 seconds (elephant, colour, mountain, etc.). The thoughts rush in to fill the gap--whether they be good, bad, indifferent.

For me, the acceptance/okay part comes when I realize that I will probably have the "falling apart" feelings regardless. I always have. I don't like it. But it's happened and I'm learning it comes, and goes, like waves in the ocean. Separate waves, one ocean.

I'm very attuned to the other people conundrum you touched on as well. Haven't learned enough self-compassion to know how to speak clearly for myself. The old give-an-inch-take-a-mile rule kicks in. Trouble is, I'm so scared of disapproval I let them take the mile to save the peace. Maybe I accept everything but me. Sigh. :doh:   

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BigGreenSee123

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2015, 02:36:10 AM »
It's not that one consciously allows it, it happens anyway; allowance isn't the same as acceptance. Trying to stop it is like saying don't think about something for the next 30 seconds (elephant, colour, mountain, etc.). The thoughts rush in to fill the gap--whether they be good, bad, indifferent.

You make a good point woodsgnome. I'm going to try and keep that in mind for next time. I think I usually try and convince myself that I can make it go away instead. But it's more like I am on a treadmill, believing I am getting away from what I dont want to face when I'm really only running in place.

I tend to give up the mile, too. Hopefully we can both find a bit more acceptance, self it otherwise. :)

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woodsgnome

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2015, 04:13:50 AM »
One more thought...I'm afraid I made acceptance sound like a one-way street, accepting only what's past, and/or that it only influences the present via flashbacks, etc. The flipside is that by choosing acceptance one is also recognizing their own role in determining the future, for example choosing to seek help, find other options, or refine one's approach to further healing. So I can accept that I'll probably feel hopeless, but when I do I can also accept that maybe I'll discover a new hope, something to look forward to.

Thanks for posting this topic--it's always fun to consider what options we have when life gets heavy. 
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 04:41:21 AM by woodsgnome »

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BigGreenSee123

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2015, 01:03:19 PM »
missbliss - I guess when I wrote this I was thinking that not being okay meant, most broadly, not being happy. I don't know if others had different interpretations of the phrase.

In hindsight, I think this topic speaks way more to my own personal difficulties than I originally realized. I tend to equate being emotional with not being okay (implying that it does not feel okay and it is unacceptable). But that's my own belief (though not one I choose), one I probably pin to the world more often than I should. I do think this is a common message in American culture but I expect that I see it more because it taps into my own personal story. I think it's likely there are plenty others out there who don't believe emotion is "not okay" and I've overlooked them.

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BigGreenSee123

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2015, 03:39:23 PM »
Thanks for sharing the link missbliss, I did find it interesting. Though my dissociative experiences have never gotten as extreme as DID, I can relate to much of what is said. I'm fully on board with the idea of acceptance of self, now I'm just working on making the idea a reality.

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Salsera

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2015, 07:50:55 AM »
Nice post arpy. Well put.
Quote
i refuse any more to pretend that things are ok when they demonstrably aren't.
What a * of a task that is, no?
For me it is, at least.

 :hug:

 :yeahthat:

I believe that this perspective makes the enablers, the FMs, and the rest on the the gravy train, feel uncomfortable. They dislike us for telling the truth. And we certainly do know the truth - and we've got the scars to prove it. For whatever the reason, they can't, or won't admit to the truths.Finally, I can say "Who cares?" to that.
When I finally started on a road to recovery, this was a major breakthrough. I said "No more" to the pretending. And I escaped.
The truth really does set us free.

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arpy1

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Re: Being okay with not being okay - some thoughts
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2015, 11:23:53 AM »
interesting you say that, Salsera, (nice to meet you btw, haven't talked w you   ;D) about people disliking it when you speak the truth and point out the elephant in the room.  i did it, and ended up being turned into the scapegoat for my trouble -  a shattering experience as it was people i loved dearly and who i thought loved me too.  apparently they did, as long as i ignored the elephant...