This motto is used in many 12-step recovery programs. A quote on social Media reminded me of this motto. It spoke of smiling and choosing joy even when we are broken. Smiling in the midst of brokenness, or faking it until we are making it, can help us as we recover from intense grief.
Sometimes we smile when we don’t feel like it. Sometimes we have to act like we are okay because we have forgotten what “okay” feels like, what it looks like, or how it behaves. Suffering and grief has become the norm and it may seem that we will never feel “normal” again.
Acting like I am okay reminds me that I can be okay again, that I can talk about things other than loss, that God can and will heal my heart. As I act like I am okay, over time that behavior once again becomes normal, familiar, and comfortable.
And then one day – after time has passed and I have been doing healthy things as part of my work towards recovery – I wake up to realize that I AM okay, not just acting like it anymore. I am beginning to experience recovery as defined by H. Norman Wright!
Additionally, acting like I am okay allows others to be okay around me without worrying if I am going to breakdown down yet again. It allows them to breathe and not be walking on eggshells around me all the time worrying that something they say will cause me more pain or bring on another sob session. It allows us to enjoy being together in this adventure without the focus being on me. It is a gift of serenity and peace from me to them. A gift they cannot demand but which I can freely offer. And we all know that folks say dumb things when they are trying so hard not to hurt us and show us love in their imperfect ways. Acting like I am okay allows they to stop trying so hard and to get back to simply being my friend.
Then our conversations can be about something other than death, funerals, grief, missing my kid and how I am. We can talk about their lives, and I can love them rather than being so needy. I can rejoice with them, hear stories about what is going on with their family, and listen when they hurt without making it about me or my grief. And in loving others I heal even more. I begin to truly experience recovery from my grief and pain.
I am NOT talking about stuffing my pain or denying my feelings. That can be harmful and delay recovery. I am talking about acting okay around others and taking time to be real with God at a more appropriate time.
If you are suffering or grieving, perhaps you can act okay for a little while today. And then tomorrow act okay for a little longer. Maybe try acting okay at church, or work, or school. Or at dinner with friends. You may find that it feels nice to act okay. And then you may find yourself beginning to be okay!
Fake it. Until you make it.