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.
“Because I decided to.”
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.
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.