Because I Decided To

Someone once asked me.  In a hushed tone.  In the midst of a discussion about having been molested as a child:

“How can you be happy and be…..okay?’    She paused and said “when others can’t?”

I knew my answer mattered to her.  I knew it was important.  Though I did not know the depth of ‘why’ it mattered.  I assumed I knew why she was asking.  And I was wrong.

I felt I had to answer with care.  And without embellishment.

My answer:

“Because I decided to.”

My embellishment:

I wasn’t always okay.  I wasn’t always happy.    Looking back it seems like I made the decision to be okay and things changed.   Insert:  finger snap.   Like that.

It wasn’t that quick of a change.

It was gradual.   But it was consistent.  It was progressive.  And it was a very good decision.

I learned I had choice.   And my choice was ‘to be okay’.

I had too many days when I did what I had to do.   Did what I was obliged to do.  Did what I thought was expected of me.   I couldn’t let go of that and decided I was okay with not being able to let go. I  kept doing what I was supposed to do and felt responsible for.  That’s a good thing.  But I added things to my day.  I added education.   Interaction.   And fun.

I don’t need sadness or pity for what happened in my life.  It’s part of who I am.

If tomorrow I woke up sad I now know that I can make the decision to remain sad, or to do what I need to do to be ‘okay’.

I’m not saying that every single moment of my life is ‘okay’.   But I am saying that I have the knowledge and the ability to make ‘me’ be okay with where I am, who I am, what I have.  Sometimes I might allow myself a moment or two, or a day, to not be okay.   And that’s my decision as well.   Sometimes I need to not be okay so that I can fully face what it is I need to address and work through.  Sometimes not being okay, is okay.  It helps with clarity.

Deciding to be okay gave me permission to accept that I am good.  I am not bad.  Bad things happened.  To me.  Not because of me.  I have as much right to be happy as anyone.   But no one can hand me happy.   I had to stand up out of my sitting-still-waiting-on-life-to-happen  way of thinking.   And I had to walk.  I had to take steps.  One step at a time.  Sign up for school.  Open my mouth and express an opinion.  Put energy in to what I valued.  I had to believe I had value.

I learned about self determination.

Where I used to look in the mirror and see nothing, nothing but me…. Nothing.

And then I decided.   I am going to be okay.  I am going to be, and find, goodness.

I now look in the mirror and see me, and nothing else but me.    And I am okay with that.

I hope she remembers asking me that question.

And I hope she decides to be okay.

And happy.

The very simple answer to how I can be okay….. is because I decided to.

I wrote this in 2013 and I am happy to re-read it and believe it, and live it, still today.