We don’t have to be okay.

We don’t have to be okay.

I have this con­stant inter­nal mono­logue that cri­tiques every deci­sion I make through­out every day.

Maybe it’s part of being an INFJ. Maybe it’s a by-prod­uct of grow­ing up in a sub-cul­ture that teach­es that you can­not trust your­self. Maybe it’s part of being a per­fec­tion­ist and an ide­al­ist. I don’t know.

But this inter­nal mono­logue is exhaust­ing. Some­times it’s my voice. Some­times it’s the voice of a most­ly-for­got­ten teacher or men­tor or ele­men­tary school friend or preach­er or per­son on the street even. But it’s rarely actu­al­ly their voic­es so much as a twist­ed ver­sion of them.

I have this idea that I have to be okay all the time.

I have to smile, even when I’m try­ing not to cry.

I have to social­ize, even when I need soli­tude.

I have to only talk about pos­i­tive things, nev­er the things that hurt.

I have to pre­tend that I’m not depressed or pan­icked or trig­gered.

And you know, I used to be real­ly, real­ly good at it.

Okay, prob­a­bly not real­ly good at it. Peo­ple have always sensed that I’m an old soul, that there is a well of sad­ness with­in me. But they’re usu­al­ly blind-sided the first time I decide to be hon­est about it.

Now, I’m tired. I’m so tired. Fight­ing the sad­ness is a dai­ly strug­gle for me, and some­times the sad­ness just wins no mat­ter what I do to fight it. And the inter­nal mono­logue I have just drones on about how weak I am, how self­ish I am, how incon­sid­er­ate I am, how stu­pid and heart­less and child­ish and pet­ty I am. My inter­nal mono­logue is basi­cal­ly a nev­er-end­ing stream of ver­bal abuse.

So some­times, like today, I have to take a step out­side of myself. I pre­tend that I am some­one else, that I am a friend. A friend who is emo­tion­al­ly worn down and weary and weepy and going through a real­ly intense cycle of self-loathing.

And while I’m pre­tend­ing this, I real­ize that I’m sure there are friends of mine going through sim­i­lar bat­tles who, like me, are try­ing to hide it so des­per­ate­ly.

So here I am, talk­ing to you, too.

I speak soft­ly, but make sure that I’m heard over all the voic­es that are rag­ing in my head about my worth­less­ness.

I say,

You don’t have to be okay.

You’re allowed to be sad.

You’re allowed to cry.

You’re allowed to be over­whelmed.

It’s okay. Real­ly.

Not being okay is okay some­times.

You don’t owe hap­pi­ness to peo­ple when you don’t feel it.

You don’t owe hap­pi­ness to peo­ple at the expense of your emo­tion­al and men­tal and spir­i­tu­al health.

It’s okay to take care of you, and some­times that looks like not being okay.”

And I wrap myself up in a robe, then swath myself in a blan­ket, then wrap my cold fin­gers around a hot mug of cof­fee, and I breathe. I just breathe.

Because I’m not okay today.

And I don’t have to be.

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