A couple of weeks ago, my mother was sick. Really sick. But I didn’t know because each time I asked her how she was, she said she was OKAY. I knew she was ill, but I didn’t think she was seriously ill, and so I didn’t offer the proper treatment that a really sick person deserves.
In the following weeks and until a conversation (an explosion) she and I had the other day, I felt the walls of disconnection rise between us. There was distance, tension, aloofness, hesitation, and this mutual apprehensiveness that told both of us that this won’t last for too long; that this entire balloon is meant to explode.
But during this time, we were both OKAY; every day, sometimes three times a day.
-How are you today?
-Okay. And you?
-Yea, just fine.
Mom was hoping I’d see something that she chose not to show me, and I was hoping that she means what she says – even when it didn’t sound like it. I mean – we all hope our loved ones are okay, don’t we?
But she wasn’t. She just didn’t tell me. Not communicating her needs for warmth and comfort, dedicated attention and care, love, support, acknowledgment, and understanding, didn’t “make” her needs disappear.
On the contrary, each passing day was a reminder of these unmet needs, giving the feelings that follow unmet needs, a magnificent chance to grow. These feelings build-up, higher and stronger within us, until their potency consumes everything else around them. My mom’s decision to stick to “OKAY” left her alone and lonely, heartbroken, distant and lost, mistrusting, perhaps even scared. And these feelings grew within her, every day. The explosion was inevitable.
She could claim to be OKAY for as long as she wanted, but truth has this tendency of breaking free whenever we least expect it. And it always does.
Each time a person asks us how we are doing, and we reply with an “okay,” while the world within us is everything but okay, we build another wall between us — a wall of mistrust, make-belief, and separation.
Each time we say we’re okay, yet we aren’t, is it because we’re assuming they don’t really care? If they don’t – there’s no harm done. But what if they do care? In this case, what we are saying is that they don’t deserve to know our truth or are not able to handle it; what we are saying is that we don’t want to burden them with our need for connection. We tend to believe that being “not okay” pushes people away. So we say, “I don’t need you,”; but more often than not – it’s a lie. And it’s a lie we expect the other person to pinpoint and expose. It’s a test for connection.
Whenever we say that we’re okay, but we aren’t, we close another door to our soul, a door the other person could once walk through and into us, but not anymore since we’ve pushed him away with a simple “okay”.
We push them away, but we hope, we always hope that they would see through the lie, that they would insist, that they would reach out and touch the very depths of our souls; those depths we’ve just closed to them. But more often than not – this isn’t an option.
When we do show through our lies, our “okay” tells others that they are inadequate, not worthy, not trusted. And they, too, close themselves to us.
With our OKAY’s we’ve become a society that grows and develops without cherishing the concepts of help and support. Instead, we embrace isolation and solitude.
Whenever we say that we’re okay, but we aren’t, we encourage everyone around us to hide behind their OKAY’s, too. We kill communication. Each time we say that we’re okay, but we aren’t, we kill the connection, we kill mutuality, we kill trust, we kill understanding, we kill the potential mutual-growth that only stands a chance when two people meet, heart to heart, soul to soul.
We complain there’s no communication within our families, but we are always OKAY. We complain that our children don’t share, yet we, ourselves, are always OKAY.
We raise generation after generation without ever telling them that connection stems from vulnerability; that love grows where there is pain. We never tell them that ones who don’t share pain, seek no support or connection, and they are those who suffer the pain of loneliness and separation. And this is the worst kind of pain.
We like and share on social media; this is true. But it has no value as social media is the mightiest soldier in the service of “OKAY.” We want to be okay, all the time.
But there’s always something on our minds and hearts that screams for recognition and acknowledgment, connection, and warmth, yet we break it, shredder it into the smallest pieces, and bury it under layers of make-belief each time we say that we’re OKAY.
I am not okay.
You are not okay.
We are not okay.
And we will never be okay; unless we find the strength and courage to admit it and to live life fully.
Saying that we’re OKAY will forever perpetuate our pain, tattoo it on souls until it becomes our second skin. Sharing that we are not OKAY allows us the opportunity to breathe, to be, to experience, to connect, to belong, and to love.
How are you today?
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