It’s Okay To Be Not Okay – by Rita Edah
My name is Rita Edah and Christmas 2016 was my first Christmas without my mum.
She was billed to visit us in the UK this year. She would have been here for Christmas 2016. However, on the morning of 23rd July, I got a message that she’d taken ill the night before and was in hospital. I dropped everything and hot footed it to Warri, Delta State, Nigeria… The idea was to encourage her to get well soon and come out of hospital… so we could get back on track with the plans that we had for the summer and for the rest of the year… but I was too late. She’d died before I could get there. All within 4 days from that Saturday morning.
So, I stayed put, planned the funeral with my brothers, supported by our extended family members and friends, and we gave our mum a great farewell party. She ought to have been there – it was a grand party.
She was 76.
Her general health was good. Until it wasn’t, and then that was it. And I’ve been navigating some very steep roller coaster of learning curves since then.
One of the greatest lessons for me is that it’s ok to be not ok.
Actually, it’s essential to be not ok, and to be able to express it. What I have found though is that most of my well-wishers cannot seem to deal with this fact. And they seem to feel obliged to pile me with platitudes that only serve to churn me up on the inside rather than bring me any form of comfort or relief. And for the sake of courtesy, and to not appear ‘awkward’ I found that, oftentimes, I went along with it.
Until I decided to no longer collude in the lie.
For, living a lie is a big part of why we run into problems with our health and wellbeing, both as individuals and as a society. It almost feels as though if you have some form of faith in a higher being and/or you are in the personal development industry then the expectation is that you be oozing positivity all the time or at least display an ongoing steady stream of positivity in the face of real life trauma.
Well, I don’t want to be a part of that collusion anymore, although I must confess it is much easier to play along. When I’ve felt up to it, and I’ve indicated that I am less than ok, I find that with very few exceptions, I’m having to choose between challenging my well-wishers out loud, or just being silent and keeping my thoughts in my head.
I have sometimes challenged well-wishers who’ve said to me that ‘It is well’. Frankly, there is nothing well wi th my mum’s sudden death.
For those that say something along the lines of, ‘It’s ok, you’ll be fine’ or ‘Your mum raised you up to be a strong woman and she’s looking down on you with pride’, I’m thinking, ‘Seriously? And you know all of this, how?’
And, for those that say: ‘You will meet her again one day’, I’m like, ‘What about today, here, now, in the flesh? Who cares about one day when I need her here today?’
Most times, I say nothing. Because it feels like a lot of hassle. And also, I know that they mean well… That they are doing and saying the best they know how in the circumstances…
And I know that the education has to be gradual and consistent: that we need to be honest with ourselves, and with one another. We need to be real, and to care in real authentic ways. We need to be ok with being not ok. We need to strip or at least tone down the personas that we put on – that way, we heal and connect, really connect…. as humans…
We can absolutely choose to walk in the courage we need to be human, truly human. Not robots. And to truly be those who would be honest with ourselves and encourage honesty from one another. Let us be those who genuinely look after the brothers and sisters that we encounter here and now, while we are busy working very hard trying to make the whole wide world a better place… or trying to win souls for some future spiritual eternal salvation.
So. Here’s the Breaking News: I’m human first and foremost. And so are you! Not a robot! And for us humans, it’s absolutely ok to be not ok… and to feel free to say so.
Here’s wishing you a Happy Honest and Expressive 2017!
And if you’re not part of Peri10k, check it out. Join us humans! It’s okay to be not okay with Peri10k.
Rita Edah x
Rita Edah is a mother, author, life coach for empty nesters and creator of the coaching programme: From ‘Yuck and Stuck’ to ‘Fab and Free’. See more of her here.