I’ve been having a really rough few days. I’ve just been completely enveloped by my grief since Friday night. If I haven’t mentioned it before, weekends are really hard for me because without the distraction of work and interacting with my office mates, there’s plenty of time to immerse myself in my grief.
Sometimes, in moderation, this is needed. But this weekend my grief incessantly washed over me like the rolling waves of a rough sea.
I’ve never been depressed in this way for this long, and I really have no idea how to deal with it. I felt so much grief, pain, heartache and loss Friday night, it scared me. That’s when I realized I need to see someone.
I had this incredible therapist in college who completely changed my life. I specifically requested a Black woman therapist so I wouldn’t have to explain the insidiousness of racism and sexism to the person who was treating me. I was assigned a Black woman who treats her patients from a feminist, Black conscious perspective, which was exactly what I needed.
Regarding my grandmother’s death, initially, I was trying to find a grief support group because I’ve also realized I’m spending way too much time alone. Then I remembered my wonderful therapist from college. I remembered her first name so it wasn’t hard to find her on the internet. I left her a voicemail yesterday. Hopefully, I can get an appointment with her this week.
I was still feeling pretty grief stricken when I got to the hair salon today. A stylist I hadn’t seen in awhile asked me how I was. (Side note: In the two months since my grandmother died, more people than ever have said, “How are you?” as a way of saying hello. It’s annoying.) Now given my current grief-stricken state, I usually just answer this question by saying, “Ok.” If I feel like getting into it, I’ll say, “Not well.” Sometimes the person will ask why and sometimes she’ll just be shocked and not know what to say.
In response to this stylist, I said, “I’m ok.” She said something to the effect of “Just ok?,” then she went on to say something like, “But you’re still doing well.” Now, I’m sure she was coming from a place of “you have so many blessings in your life as a First-World, middle-class professional that even when you’re not great, you’re still doing well.”
But because of the place I’m in, I felt nothing but anger when she said this. I was thinking, Excuse me?! Did you just correct ME about how I feel?!!!!! I didn’t say this. Instead I said, “No, I’m actually not. I had a death in my family recently.”
(Word to the wise: DO. NOT. EVER. TELL. SOMEONE. HOW. SHE’S. FEELING. EVER. You have NO idea what that person’s going through. This woman didn’t expect me to say that I’d just lost someone and she had to struggle to take her foot out of her mouth when I did. Hopefully, she learned her lesson and will never tell someone how she’s feeling again.)
Then she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that! Blah, blah, blah.” She came over and hugged me and said a bunch of things I tuned out because I didn’t care to hear them. Then as she was walking out the door, she said, “Hopefully, you’ll feel well soon.”
When she said this, I was reminded of something.
People are extremely uncomfortable with other people not doing well publicly. We’re socialized in American society, particularly as women, to hide how we really feel and make other people comfortable by pretending we’re ok even when we’re not.
Fuck. That. I am as far from ok as I’ve ever been in my life and if I want you to, you’re going to know it.
After this exchange, I started hypothesizing about why we’re so uncomfortable with people not being ok in public. Is it because if we see someone isn’t ok, we might actually have to stop and ask her what’s wrong, dedicating more than the two minutes of interaction we planned on spending on that human?
Is it because if we look at someone publicly not being ok, we’ll be forced to ask ourselves if we’re ok and we may discover that we are not, in fact, ok?
I think it’s both of these things. Either way, this practice needs to change. There is nothing wrong with not being ok, particularly if a loved one has died.
I’m going to do my best to be the change I want to see in the world.
I am not ok. Not even close. #ImNotOk
If you’re not ok, you don’t have to pretend that you are. This blog is a safe space. If you feel comfortable, feel free to share that you’re not ok in the comment section. We can be “not ok” together and be here for one another.