I wrote something similar to the title of this note as my Facebook status one day. The question was sort of a joke (and sort of not!), but actually it is a very good question! Is it okay with you if someone who you see as—well, I don't know how you see me, but some of the nicer descriptions I have heard include wise, self-aware, loving, resilient, someone who "gets it"—loses it sometimes? (Or, in my case, during this past year, rather often?)
The responses from my Facebook friends ran the gamut. Some thanked me for my honesty. Others asked me (in a well-meaning way, or not) if I could absolutely know it was true. A few hoped I would feel better soon. And still others asked me if it was okay with me that I felt the way I did. That is, of course, an even better question.
I can't imagine how not to be other than how I am in the moment, and I'm sure there are those who would expect differently, and might become disenchanted to learn that, simply because I facilitate The Work, write about it, and use self-inquiry as a personal practice, my life is not a choral reading of A Thousand Names for Joy. (If I were to write the story of my life, it would be a book of humorous essays more aptly titled "A Thousand Names for OY!" Or perhaps, "Eat, Pray, Love, Kvetch.")
I have some really good tools for getting balanced and happier in my life when I'm off-kilter, and I love to share those tools. I'm told I'm a good teacher of those tools. I'm inspired by the teachings that inspired those tools as well, even if I don't fully understand or embody them all...even when I'm resistant to using these perfectly simple and effective solutions.
Shocker: since I'm human and I don't always allow myself to "know what I know," I'm sure I have at least as many "bad" days as the average person! I don't always love that I have as many "off" moments, or days, as I do, but I'd rather be authentic and transparent about it than not. And it really is okay with me that I have them, otherwise, instead of sharing this, I would hide behind a happy-happy-joy-joy persona that isn't me 24/7 by a longshot!
So if I am miserable, and I know there is a way out of being miserable, that's how I know it's okay with me that I'm miserable. Nothing wrong with that. In my experience, when I allow myself to keep company with misery, rather than trying to banish it, I end up feeling somewhat less miserable. This allows room in my head and heart to meet misery with understanding. Once understood, misery seems to get bored with me and, eventually, it goes away.
One time I went to a talk by Marianne Williamson. Anyone who has met Williamson in person knows that she is not a happy-happy-joy-joy style spiritual leader; in fact, she's rather intense. She gets angry. During this talk, Williamson said that she was far from a finished product; but that the tools she uses, teaches, and delivers from her own experience (from various religious traditions and A Course in Miracles) have helped; she is better than she used to be. I know this to be true of me too, so I loved that she stood there in front of hundreds of people who paid to see her, and met us where we could really hear her, not separate from or above the rest of us. From where I sat, this didn't diminish the value of what she had come to teach us at all.
Years ago at a New Year's retreat where I was serving on the staff (and not doing a stellar job of it, in my opinion), I bumped into my mentor, Byron Katie. She said something complimentary to me and immediately, and with great embarrassment, I burst into great, sobbing, snotty tears. As she held me and smoothed my hair, she asked me, "What's the belief?" "I don't want you or anyone else to see that I'm not 'on it,'" I confessed. "No," she said, "You don't want you to see that you're not 'on it,' and that's where you mess yourself up." (She used a stronger word than "mess.") Clearly she wasn't at all bothered by my being off my game. Why was I? It felt so good not to have to hide my off-ness any longer, I probably did a better job. I know I found it easier to ask others for help.
Here's another reason why I'm a big fan of this kind of self-disclosure: if it's not okay for me to have days like this, then it's not okay for others to have them, and that would be unrealistic, unkind, and dishonest because everybody in the world, without exception, whether they admit it or not, has them.
I want you to be what you are, and not feel you have to push yourself to be what you are not; not for your sake, not for mine, not for the sake of the world. If I can extend that courtesy to myself, I have half a chance of extending it to my friends, mentors, mentees, clients and colleagues.
©2009 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.