R U OK? We all have days when we are definitely NOT OK. Me included. Right now, honestly, I’m not okay. None of us will ever make it through life without encountering something that shakes us to our core. There was no promise in life that we would always be happy. There was no commitment that life would always be fair.
When faced with challenging times, I have a default setting: Action Stations!
Within minutes, my brain has scanned the problem and determined every possible solution available and I am leaping into action, action, action.
It makes for plenty of time spent doing, and a whole lot less time spent thinking, feeling or fearing.
I think that is the reason that I am pretty awesome at helping others – because it gives me something to do that lets me remain in control when the world seems intent on careening off course from the safe and sound.
As my sister pointed out this week, when I have no actions available, I am left very vulnerable and the world can become very wobbly.
You see, I am equal parts woeful at asking or accepting help.
And that means sometimes, I am not okay.
Over the last few weeks, our little family has taken a number of hits in the Very Bad News Stakes – with serious illnesses hitting my father, grandmother and a family friend.
There is not a thing I can do to help – nothing that will change the outcomes.
No Action Station to be armed for battle.
And I haven’t been okay.
Not at all, really.
I have been sad and a little low.
Around me, those nearest and dearest have asked me: are you okay?
R U OK?
What a question that is …
Truthfully, none of us will ever make it through life without an encounter in the Really Not Okay Department.
For Randall, the Really Not Okay Department has delivered two trips to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For others in our Churchill Alumni, they have landed in the Realm of Redundancy – which feels very personal despite every HR textbook saying it is absolutely not personal.
And during COVID, friends who have built good teams have lost the businesses they worked so hard to create.
Illness, death, relationship breakdown, family challenges, financial hurdles, isolation. It has all turned up in 2020.
As it has turned up in every other year too.
Sometimes, we just have to wade through life.
Sometimes, all we have is the chance to respond honestly when someone asks us “are you okay?” … or the need to dig deep and stop waiting to be asked before we start a conversation with “I am not okay at the moment.”
In the midst of my Not Okay times, I am doing my best to stay away from the things that will make me even less okay … for me, alcohol, junk food, online shopping and late-night television binges.
And I am heading towards the things that help me, maybe not to feel better necessarily, but to hang in there until a new and better day comes … hitting the trails, playing some music, sitting in the yard, spending time with my children and Randall … and telling the truth when my friends and family ask me how I am travelling.
I remind myself that very little in this life is permanent. Very little impacts every single part of our life.
So, whilst 2020 has been a darker year for so many, it is not forever. And it cannot take away everything that we value. Not really. It cannot touch the ability of our two youngest children, twins Amelia and Will, to unwittingly make Randall and me laugh with their observations on life. It can’t stop the trees budding along our driveway or make that full moon any less bright.
And sometimes, we just have to know it is okay to feel sad right now.
Hard is a part of life too.
If I can encourage you and me in one key action, though, it is vital to never give up. Never give up looking for the things that the darkness hasn’t reached.
And if you can, summon the courage to answer honestly or ask for help whilst daring to ask others too, “R U OK?”
Sometimes helping others is the best medicine for helping ourselves.
If you aren’t feeling okay right now, I may not be able to swing into an Action Mission that solves the problem … but I am always available to hear you and remind you that you are not alone.
And here are some other great services if you or someone you know needs support:
- Mates4Mates – 1300 4 MATES
- Soldier On – 1300 620 380
- RSL – (02) 6280 4079
- Blue Hope – 1300 00 BLUE
- Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
P.S. Dogs also help.