It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay

I’m going to start this off pretty blunt.  I am exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel.  It’s weird to say it out loud but it’s something I’ve been thinking and feeling for a while now.  Something that I keep trying to push back down inside.  Something I try to trick myself out of thinking.  But here it is.  I’m not that strong.  I’m not always okay.

You may be thinking how is that possible? Believe me, I wonder that on a daily basis, too.  I have a beautiful new home, a great new job, Teagan is doing well in Kindergarten, Kenedi is loving preschool, Hux is the easiest, happiest baby I’ve ever met, we have a community that has supported us through thick and thin over the last 3 years, we have amazing friends (new and old), we live near some of these friends and now our family that can and do help out with the kids or just hang out whenever they can, it’s almost my favorite time of year (come on November 1 and bring on Thanksgiving!) and yet, I’m struggling daily with little things.  With feeling happy.  With feeling angry.  With being so very overwhelmed and anxious.  Oh so anxious.

Having one of your children die is awful.  You never think that will happen to you.  If you haven’t had a loss, when you read other stories of other children dying, you distance yourself.  You feel bad, but try to ignore feeling like “that could be me”, because it’s too hard to think about.  It’s too anxiety filled to think “my child could die”  I get it.  That was me.  But now, having lost Kendal and having Kenedi in remission from the same cancer that killed Kendal I am left in a constant state of anxiety.  And not even just about Kenedi’s health.  About things you would never expect to feel anxious about.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sprinted back into my house to make sure I unplugged my straightener.  Sure, everyone does that every now and then, but we are talking 3 or 4 times each morning.  How about driving back to your house to make sure the garage door is shut, even when you and the kids say out loud as you watch it close that the door is closed, but still have to turn around and drive back home “just to make sure.” Or writing out 4 pages of notes for your friends and family who are watching your kiddos for a day when they’ve watched them before without instruction.  And double checking the locks in your house – no exaggeration – 12 times before you go to sleep.  Or having to have the bed made a certain way every single morning before leaving the house.  And being more than uncomfortable taking trips now without your entire family with you.  How about checking your baby’s fingers and toes repeatedly to make sure there isn’t a hair wrapped around them cutting off the circulation. Or feeling like you’re going to literally drown when you look at the monthly calendar of “to dos” filled with dance, and school, and birthday parties, and gymnastics, and work meetings, and Sunday school, and doctor appointments, and date nights, and work trips, and fundraisers for school, and sports, and homework, and, and, and {breathe}

This is anxiety.  This is what it looks like.

The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  And since Kendal died I’ve gone through and continue to go through all of these.  It’s not a perfect circle, it’s more like a scribbled never-ending line on a page.  Sometimes you get stuck in one for a long time, and sometimes you don’t feel any stages for a long time.  Sometimes you hop from one to the other 100 times a day.  There’s no right way to grieve.  But I have to admit I think there is a stage of grief that is missing.  That stage, for me, is most definitely anxiety.  And that’s where I’m at.  That’s where I’m stuck.

On the surface I’m surviving, sure.  Because that’s what I have to do.  I have a household to run and manage and kids to care for and a job to go to and friends to be there for.  But inside it’s a daily struggle.  Sometimes even more than that – a minute by minute struggle.  Recently I started telling more and more people how I have been feeling and you know what happened?  They all told me it was okay.  They have lifted me up when I needed it.  I’m thankful that I have a family who allows me time to do something for myself – i.e. training for a half marathon (so time consuming but so good for my mental health).  I have learned tools from counseling to help ground me when I’m feeling very out of sorts.  I have friends I can text and say “I’m not okay” and they stop what they are doing to respond and tell me it’s okay that I’m not okay.  It’s okay to be sad or mad or anxious or all of the above or none of the above.  It’s okay to have a nice life and still be angry Kendal died.  It’s okay to laugh and be happy that Kenedi is doing well.  It’s okay to not feel a side of guilt every single time I feel joy.  It’s okay to sit around and eat an entire bag of Dots pretzels and have a glass of wine while watching trashy Bravo TV instead of doing dishes or laundry because you just don’t feel like it at that moment.  Really, it’s okay.

You know what else is okay?  Admitting that you’re not.  Asking for help.  Reaching out.  Finding resources.  You’re not alone.

It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay



*I just want to note I am not sad, angry, anxious ALL THE TIME.  It’s sometimes.  Sometimes it’s never.  Sometimes it’s often.  I’m simply saying if you feel like this at all, ever, for a long time, for a short time, it’s okay.  Tell someone.  Talk about it.  We all go through ups and downs.  There’s no need to go through them alone*