by Nahje Royster
If you’re anything like me, being happy and content sometimes feels foreign and confusing. Being so accustomed to pain, disappointment, frustration, and grief doesn’t allow for space to imagine anything other than these heavy, dark feelings. However, it really is okay to be okay.
My therapist has been DRAGGING me lately- actually since I met her- about getting out of the comfort zone of being sad, upset, angry, etc. I hadn’t even realized that was what I was doing until I thought about my “healing” habits. When things go awry, no matter how big or small, I shut down and I try to stay in that emotion as long as possible. I avoid things that might make me feel better, I say self-deprecating things, I avoid my friends– the whole, toxic, nine yards. But why? What does hurting myself and allowing myself to stay hurt get me? absolutely fucking nothing.
I started writing this piece because I came across a picture of my late Gramps, my favorite person ever, and realized something. Yes, his death will always hurt and I will often have moments where I am reminding myself of his physical absence, but I am doing okay without him. There was a time that I thought I would have to admit myself to a mental-care facility if/when I lost him. I pushed through as a functioning depressed person- as my therapist called me- but I didn’t think I would make it through his death. It was too soon, entirely too sudden, and losing a major part of your life is never easy. But, I am okay. I am advancing in my life, putting critical thought into ways I can be better for myself, and thinking of how to truly invest in and be less afraid of deeper connections with my chosen family.
Along with being okay with being okay and learning that I cling onto sadness and anger, I am also learning that it might be worth it to trust and love people. My bio family often thinks that I am aloof or too unaware of the horrors of the world, saying things like “you’re book smart but lack common sense” or “you’re too nice and trusting”. But in reality, I assume the worst 24/7 out of almost everyone and everything in my life. I expect my friends to hurt me, to disappoint me, to leave me– not because they are trashy people (they’re the best, throw hands if you think otherwise), but because I would rather be prepared for the worst. I would much rather be surprised with the best than prepared for the best and knocked on my fat ass by the worst.
But chile, this is no fucking way to live! I had a moment where I was like “Girl, maybe things would be better and brighter if you actually fathom them being that way.” And honestly, it makes sense. One of my best friends, my brother James, has basically asked me a few times, “but what if [insert good thing here] happens”. And in typical Nahje fashion, I brushed it off with a sassy comment. But he isn’t wrong, my inner thoughts, aren’t wrong. I need to shift the focus away from all the potential bad, the past pain, and be receptive to the present and future joys. Because if I think I’ve hit rock bottom, which I do believe I have, then I have no choice but to go up. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. I need to invest in myself. I need to believe in myself. I need to prepare myself for the life I tell folks I want. I recently texted James saying that I know better days are coming, but I’m losing patience waiting. Well, what the hell are any of us waiting for? Like many people, I struggle with mental illnesses. However, I am acknowledging that I don’t do all that I can to make my days better. It’s okay for me to expect positivity and sunshine and rainbows and a bunch of other gay* shit.
Will people hurt and disappoint me? Yes. Will my depression be cured? Unfortunately, not. But I can change my outlook on these occurrences and as the saying goes, accept the things I can’t change and have the courage to change the things that I can. This is my life and I need to live and exist accordingly. Fears and bad days will always be there, but that don’t mean they run shit over here. That stops today… or sometime soon as my therapist guides me through the process!
*I am a Queer woman and I use gay as a universal positive word.