It's Okay to Not Be Okay
Happy Monday Educators! I’m going to continue to say that I hope you and yours are and continue to stay well because I know that these are different times and on a week to week or even day to day basis, one’s status can shift. And yes…I know that this post is a day behind but more on that in a bit😊. So, I continue to send you love and much positivity and believing that it supports you wherever you are.
Early last week my family received news that my last living grandparent, my paternal grandmother of 95 years, passed from COVID-19. She was in a nursing home in NJ and many of the individuals had fallen ill within the past weeks. I didn’t have a particularly close relationship with her and the fact that I’m not fluent in the Haitian language of Kreyol created a barrier for regular communication over the years. Due to this fact, I didn’t expect to have much of an emotional response whenever it was her time to transition. I knew I would feel for my father who was very close to her and had been taking care of her for years.
What occurred after I heard the news couldn’t be further from my expectation. I felt an immense sense of loss and sadness, not only for my father but for myself and the family as a whole. There was significant grief since she died without family around her and to this day it remains challenging to select a date for a funeral that almost no one can attend. My dad is strong but I find myself listening for the breaks when I speak with him that will let me know how he’s really doing. After about the 4th time of someone asking me, “how are you doing?” and the quick but charged response of “I’m doing okay,” I realized…I was not doing okay at all. I needed to stop. Stop acting as if I could just power through and keep it moving. As if the flood of emotions didn’t warrant a bit of inquiry and love.
I knew I could take days off work to recollect and to grieve but a part of me wondered why I would if I couldn’t go to a funeral. What’s the point in being off when there is so much to do? There are still deadlines and life is continuing so I could just use my evenings to connect with family and maintain my current schedule. Yeah…about halfway through the next day as I participated in a virtual conference, I realized I needed to step away. I was no longer giving the best version of who I am to anyone. It’s not that I didn’t want to do so. I just couldn’t…mentally or emotionally.
So at the end of the next day, I sat at my desk and decided that no, I am not okay, and that’s okay. Life just happened. Life just got hard and emotional and unnerving and it’s okay that I don’t feel like my typical optimistic, peaceful, and calm self. I need to take some time, recalibrate, reestablish my center, and come back a bit stronger and focused. So, I did and am. So after several days, marathon zoom calls with family and friends, movies with my son, laughter like I haven’t had in a while, journaling, long walks, reading and podcasts…I am reestablishing my center. Not the old one but one that is more focused on capitalizing on the experience and continuing to grow.
Life is happening and it asks us from time to time to step away, recalibrate, refocus, and begin again. When we find ourselves overwhelmed, frustrated, worried, and unsure how we’ll move forward, permitting ourselves to take time to stop is okay. It isn’t a slight on one’s fortitude or dedication as an educator, parent, partner, sibling, etc. It is simply the reality of our humanity. We feel, we hurt, we fall, but we also have the insight and choice to bring into our lives what we need. Here are a few suggestions that I found and continue to find helpful:
Identify your tribe and connect with them deeply. Your tribe is the individuals in your life who pull out the best in you when you’re at your worst. It is where you can keep it 100 and not feel off afterward.
Engage in self-love. Identify and celebrate the good that you are and what you bring to the world. Talk to yourself with uplifting words that build rather than tear down who you are, particularly when you’re down. Let go of the “could’ve”, “should’ve”, and “would’ve” and embrace what you’re doing now.
Dive into self-care. Eat foods that nourish your body and not just your taste buds. Drink lots of water. Find ways to move your body that bring you joy. Choose not to force yourself into workouts you dread. If you hate it, skip it…and find something you enjoy enough to engage in.
Revisit deadlines and remember that people (like yourself) come before projects.
Last night, as I prepared to write my blog entry, I received a text from a friend who just found out about a friend passing. It was later in the evening and she let me know there’s no rush at all so we can talk at a different time. I knew she needed love right then and there and any self-imposed deadline on a blog posting can surely wait. We talked and it was just as much of a healing conversation for me as I hope it was for her. Thus, the delayed posting but one I believe is better than it would’ve been had I written it yesterday.
How am I doing now? I’m good…I am. Tomorrow might be a different story or there might be more news that sends a wave of sadness but I did what was needed to be good, now. I’ll end with the words of Dr. Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel...
How do you feel? How do you want to feel? What do you need?
Be sure to create the space for whatever comes up for you.
In Solidarity and Love,