February 13, 2018

It is okay to not be okay

I participated in an incredibly educational, enlightening, and energizing seminar on Friday.  The event was “Responding to Trauma, Addiction, and Mental Illness.” Considering where I am on my learning journey, this event couldn’t have come at a better time.

I don’t know specifically where you are on your journey. If you are like most people reading these blogs, you’re probably living in some state of brokenness or chaos. You may be feeling beaten, lost, or confused, struggling to navigate a substance abuse issue in your life. I know I have had some incredible, confounding lows on my addiction journey and on my own personal journey relative to my personal goals and aspirations.

The reality is, life presents us with our beaten and broken moments. Though difficult and challenging, it is normal.  Everyone experiences it and everyone struggles through it.  How we respond to it and grow from it really defines the balance of our lives and our influence in the lives of those we love.

Pastor Dan Steffen opened the conference with three perspective regarding our struggles:

  • It’s okay not to be okay
  • It’s not okay to pretend it’s okay
  • It’s not okay to stay that way

(The following thoughts are not a summary of Pastor Dan’s comments; rather, they are a compilation of my own reflections over my life and from subsequent information shared at this conference.)

It’s okay not to be okay. You may be hurting or broken right now; or, you may be struggling with something in your life which you just cannot seem to get ahead of. You are not alone. You are not the only one. Most important, your pain and your struggle are not the result of something wrong with you. What you are experiencing may be unique to you; but, everyone is experiencing something in their life which is, for them, a very similar, real struggle. Let go of the shame and guilt you are experiencing for you are not alone.  And, do what you can to begin to embrace the confidence it will pass.

It’s not okay to pretend it’s okay. Everyone has been, or is in a struggle. To pretend you are not, to bravely wear a mask and act as though everything is okay, is not healthy or authentic. There is no healing in wearing the mask. While we may fear the responses of others to the truths in our struggle, hiding from it is not the answer. I have personally experienced greater healing, freedom, love and hope in the authenticity of my struggles than any other mask bearing behavior. When others experience your willingness to be authentic and vulnerable, it gives them permission to go there, as well.  It also frees them to love, encourage, and support you where you are and with what you are struggling with. Surround yourself with people who will love you where you are and in the space of what you need from them.  If they cannot give this to you, find a new community, these are not your peeps.

It’s not okay to stay that way. Once the mask comes off and you realize you are not alone, you become empowered to move forward and grow from the struggle. The most important activity you can engage in is work on healing what is hurting in you. I know many of you have become fixated on healing the brokenness in someone else’s life. Unfortunately, we cannot be the healer in another person’s life until we first heal ourselves. “Be the change we want to see in others” is a powerful call to action along these lines. You cannot show the way through another person’s pain, if you don’t know the way through yours. Your healing journey facilitates the potential for others to begin theirs.  However, you cannot be a healer until you heal yourself, first.

These three perspectives on life’s difficult times are incredibly powerful. They free us to be authentic in our struggle and to release this need to protect ourselves from criticism, judgement and shame.  I will share more on these ideas later this week on the “Inside the Blog” podcast.  In the meantime, please share with me where you are and what you are going through. I am here to help your find your way through the chaos and the confusion. I can be reached at dave@100Pedals.com.


Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.)

You can also subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

This week’s Inside the Blog podcast episode: http://theaddictionconversation.libsyn.com/when-everything-is-not-okay

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know if you need more: dave@100Pedals.com.


Addiction in the Family, featured, Parenting and Addiction, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , , ,
About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.

  1. Thank you for what you are doing. I’ve been reading your blogs for about two years now. I just wanted you to know.

  2. David, you make excellent points. Part of my journey through life has included a mental illness. My healing has come from God. He has used several avenues to restore me and give me the hope of a life lived openly, authentically, vulnerably, abundantly, joyfully and with out shame. My journey began with receiving the correct diagnosis, getting on a course of medicinal treatment that helped to stabilize my brain so that I could begin to do the difficult work of looking at my brokenness and deepest wounds.
    I have been walking with Jesus (that is Jesus has been walking with me) since my sophomore year in High school. Along that road, the first few years were very rocky. I was unaware that I had a mental illness, so I was self-medicating with pot and alcohol so that I might feel “normal” or maybe even just plain numb to the inner struggle and pain I was experiencing. I am so thankful that I came to know Jesus, God and Holy Spirit at an early age. Had I not, I’m fairly certain I would be dead. I am not exaggerating….I went through several suicidal moments until I received the help I needed.
    After becoming stable on medication, I became more aware of things in my life that needed to be exposed so that the greater healing could begin.I was fortunate to go to a “Christian” Psychologist who helped me go back in to some very painful hurts and memories. He counseled me from the Bible. Where I had been believing lies he spoke the truth of God’s word into my reality. From there, I had been to several conferences held at various churches. At those conferences I learned more about the character of God and His unending love and acceptance of me. I learned more truth about my identity in Christ, and the myths and the lies of who I thought I was were “busted”. This helped the walls that I had built up around my heart to come tumbling down. The greatest break throughs for me came when my husband and I attended a school with an emphasis on Foundations in Christian (Biblical) Counseling Ministry. We learned several Biblically sound methods on how to help people to identify the lies in their lives and to begin to learn what God and Jesus say about who they are.These classes taught us how to lead people to see Jesus in their deepest places of pain and wounding. It taught me to analyze an emotional “trigger” in the presence of Jesus and God through the Word. I learned truth. I became equipped with tools to fight the enemy of my soul and life. I am thankful everyday for the privilege of being able to attend that school. I have found so much forgiveness, the ability to forgive others and the freedom to live as the child of God I was created to be.
    One of my favorite Bible verses is: 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort: who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (Paul speaking)

    • Carol, what a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. Shows how important it is to get in touch with where we are out of sync and the power of focusing our healing in the direction of our Father.

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