It's OK if you're not OK

My counselor smiled a gentle smile, and for the first time in a long time I felt safe. I knew from the look in her eyes that my counselor wasn't going to judge me. "To be honest," I said, holding back tears, "I'm not doing so well." And then I began to sob. I just let the tears come freely, I didn't wipe them away quickly as I had become accustomed to doing when I would think about my mom's cancer and this new world we were now a part of.

For a long time my counselor didn't say anything. She just let me cry and cry. And it felt like I cried forever. And it felt so good to just cry. To not try and stop myself from feeling my feelings. Or manage them. Or "fix" them.

Finally my counselor said, "It seems to me, you are doing just fine. You are exactly where you need to be."

That marked the beginning of a turning point for me. I decided to let myself off the hook when I noticed strong feelings coming up inside me as my mom and I went through her cancer journey together. I decided not to judge myself. And although they were never really easy, things became easier. Letting go of my guilt and shame created space for me to focus on the thing that really mattered.

The love I felt for my mother and the knowledge that yes, it was messy at times, but I really was doing pretty well.

Jen Bosworth is a writer and performer from Chicago. Her one woman show, "Why Not Me...Love, Cancer and Jack White" will make it's East Coast debut this August at The New York International Fringe Festival in NYC. Check out her website for more information about Jen and "Why Not Me."

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