It’s not okay

A Washington Post article just popped up in my email that was remarkably well-timed.

“We are not okay, and it’s okay,” the description said. The article was an interview with mental-health professionals who think America’s tendency toward positivity might be bad for us right now.

They described people trying to act like everything was okay, or will soon be okay, as forcing someone to eat ice cream when the thought of ice cream makes you sick.

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We’re afraid to send our children to school, and we’re afraid not to. We’re afraid to go to work, and we’re afraid not to. We’re afraid of the future, and we’re not wrong to be.

We are cracking under the pressure, and it’s perfectly understandable.

I’d just gotten off the phone with a local attorney who got a nasty email from one of our clients who was reacting to what he’d heard was a pile of unaddressed papers related to his house sale.

Where did the rumor come from? An agent involved in the sale sent up a flare after her client told her that was the case.

The only problem was, no one knows where the rumor began. It apparently wasn’t true.

Meanwhile, I had texts from two other clients concerned about their own real-estate transactions. The answer, for both, is that everything’s okay. It’s just all taking a lot longer than usual, thanks to the backlog created by the Covid shutdown this spring.

But what they needed was reassurance. And that local attorney? She vented for fifteen minutes about her own frustrations. “Thanks,” she said when she was done. “I’m sorry to vent, but I needed to.”

Those clients were grateful, too.

I understood how therapists feel.

I’m no therapist, and I’m not okay, either. I’m stressed, I’m snappish, and I’m scared.

But when I can lift my head out of my stress fog, I’m reminded of a time when my entire life was swept out to sea by an undertow of grief. Feeling so intensely wounded made me suddenly understand that everyone is wounded, in some way or another. And despite what felt like the end of my life as I knew it, I never felt closer to humanity as a whole, never more connected.

This is another one of those times.  No one is fine. No one anywhere in the world. A virus has united us all. And frightening political changes, the distortion of what we thought was our reality, is making it worse. We’re scared, we’re angry, or we’re stuffing those feelings down and hiding behind something else. We’re not fine, and it’s okay.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we all admitted it, and realized we’re all in this together?

We’d feel a whole lot less alone.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.