You will never be okay.
Well, not every second of every day,
And love, let me tell you
That’s the most beautiful part
Of being human.
An honest one, at least.
I know the world tries to convince us
Through pretense of perfection
And social media’s steady stream
Of that life-sucking lie
Reverberating in the dark rooms of our minds:
Not being okay is failure.
But telling the truth of our humanness is not failure.
It is freedom.
Our not being okay
Our mental illnesses
Our coping mechanisms
Our addictions, faults, and fears—
They will rise up from the shadows sometimes.
But what about—
—Yes, dear one, I know
Some people reach “full recovery,”
But a symptom-free life forever, well,
For most of us,
Is not always a possibility.
However, that reality does not hold hopelessness.
It does not deduct from our unwavering worthiness.
Experiencing an occasional relapse or regression
After symptom-free weeks, months, years
Does not invalidate the healing we have already experienced.
It does not mean we are broken.
It means we are human.
Sure, sometimes life is smooth enough to remain
In our constructed expectations of
“Healthy” and “healed”
For so long that we swear we’ve made it.
Thank God I’ll never binge again.
Thank God I’ll never drink again.
Thank God I’ll never have a panic attack again.
Thank God I’ll never take a hit again, hate myself again,
Experience insomnia again, live in depression again,
Or whatever shadow self we thought we could leave behind,
Or whatever version of ourselves we swore we were past, healed, or saved from.
But darling, come close and listen:
There is no it.
There is no arriving,
There is only becoming,
And becoming requires allowing ourselves
to be human.
It’s jarring to think we’ve tasted a second of enlightenment
And then watch ourselves walk right back into suffering
Despite rationally knowing the intimate intricacies
Of all our stressors, triggers, and coping mechanisms.
It’s unsettling to observe ourselves slide back into the version of a person
We never thought we’d meet again.
But eventually, no matter how hard we try to keep our shit together,
Something comes along and life becomes so damn overwhelming and hard again
That no amount of therapy or self care or meditation or prayer or medication
Is enough to keep us from hurting again.
Because we’re human.
That’s the funny thing about brains and bodies.
They remember the ways they learned
To keep us safe from the harmful world
We either experienced or constructed.
Shaming them in times of stress or trauma or grief
For remembering how to get their needs met
For remembering how they survived the pain in the past
Only creates more suffering.
I have believed I’d been severed from my shadow forever, too.
Yet here I am,
And here are you.
Here we are, together—
Not okay all the time,
And oh, so very human.
Remember that relapse does not mean our healing isn’t real.
Relapse means our healing isn’t finished.
It never is, for any of us.
There is always another layer to be peeled back,
More depth to explore,
More healing to be done.
Let me say that again.
There is always more healing to be done.
That is the most exhausting and most life-giving truth I know.
Healing hurts. Because growth requires stretching.
Our symptoms simply let us know where it hurts today.
They point to where we need to stretch in order to grow.
We may not have power over the presentation of our symptoms,
But we do have power over our response to that presentation.
We can resent, judge, and shame,
Or we can pay attention, notice, observe, wonder, ask
Out of curiosity instead of blame,
Where does it hurt today?
Extend grace, hold ourselves with tenderness,
And dive in
To yet another day
Of this sacred, never-ending walk of healing,
Of being human.