No Matter What, You Are Okay

The original inspirational piece "No Matter What, You Are Okay," and other musings on life, death, happiness, human nature, spirituality, emotion, healing, and whatever else I feel like writing about.

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Location: Huntsville, Ontario, Canada

Writer (see and artist (see here). I first did artwork professionally at age 13, drawing pencil portraits for friends and neighbours. I started writing novels at about the same time. Realizing I was spending more time writing than doing art, I took a degree in journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto, where I also contributed editorial cartoons for the university paper. I have published three novels: Lion's Heart and Lion's Soul, solos, with Baen Books in 1991, plus Shadow's Son with S.M. Stirling and Shirley Meier in 1992, also with Baen. I have also published numerous articles and short stories, and contribute computer artwork to the blog Daily Kos.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Matter What, You Are Okay

I WROTE THIS PIECE at a very difficult time in my life.

I was struggling to manage a household and a mortgage by myself, in increasing debt, with prospects for more income deeply discouraging. I had been betrayed by my spouse and a supposed close friend, who’d had an affair under my nose. My family had been torn apart, one of my sons taken away by the other parent, who snuck out while I was at a conference. There was some indication the boys had been sexually abused, but I could do nothing about it; since both have autistic spectrum disorders, they were not able to give a clear account of what had happened. My ex had me charged falsely with a criminal act, telling the police I had been a violent abuser. Several important friends and colleagues turned on me in different ways.

Life had never been easy—I grew up sexually and emotionally abused in a very dysfunctional family—but this was even worse than usual. It seemed like the whole world was against me. I wondered how I had failed or erred, what strategic mistakes I had made. Or was it simply that it was true, what I had been raised to believe: I deserved pain and humiliation, just for being myself?

Despite everything, I maintained focus on the spiritual growth and healing I had been working on for many years. It was after a profound weekend healing session that the inspiration for this book came. It started just as a single affirmation, and grew from there, as I saw how the positive message could be applied to so many situations.

The manuscript almost wrote itself, at least when I was in the mood—a beautiful, peaceful, positive mood in which the “okays” were pretty-much self-generating. I’d be driving along, or doing a mindless chore, and one or more “okays” would come into my mind fully-formed, making me run to the computer as soon as possible to get them down.

Very soon after I first shared it with people, they began asking me if they could share it with others. They’d say, “I have a friend who’s depressed; mind if I send her some of this? I think it might help.” Of course I didn’t mind.

Though I don’t really think of the “okay’s” as poetry, I got lots of encouragement after reading several of them at a poetry reading, when a middle-aged man commended me on the concept. I didn’t know who he was until he was introduced: Allan Pearson, a Canadian poet of national stature.

Soon people started reflecting “No matter what, you’re okay” back to me. For instance, just as I was beginning to promote it, I had an opportunity to put an ad in a trade show program book. It was literally minutes to the deadline. I phoned a dear friend, nervously. Should I take the plunge? Should I go ahead, and put it out there?

She said, “Karen, whether you do it or not… you are okay.”

I barely stopped laughing long enough to decide to go ahead.

No Matter What, You’re Okay started out being about me, but soon shaped itself to be about everybody. We’ve all suffered some combination of these trials. Pain, sadness, fear, loss, guilt, shame… are universal experiences. We’ve all been rejected, betrayed, threatened, deprived or falsely accused. We’ve all been confused, scared, enraged, humiliated, physically agonized and heartbroken. We’ve all doubted, to different degrees and for different durations of time, that we were okay.

I intend and hope that somewhere in these pages, you’ll spot a situation you are in, recognize with me why you’re okay nonetheless, and find comfort and inspiration. Enjoy.

Karen Wehrstein, 2006


No matter what,
you are okay.

Even if you do not feel okay,
you are okay.
Even if you feel terrible,
you are okay.

Even if worries that you are not okay haunt you,
You really are okay.

It may be hard to believe, but...

You are more than okay, actually.
Whether you know it or not, you are divine.
By which I mean, you carry the divine spark.
We all do.
Because of that,
we are all okay.


You are okay—how do you know?
Because, even if the trouble of all the world is falling in on you,
Even if you feel like you are 99% made of darkness,
If you ask yourself, “Am I okay?”
And listen very closely, and very deeply, for that voice within,
even if it only seems to be 1% of you,
you’ll hear it.

You’ll hear it say, “Yes, I’m okay.
Of course I’m okay.
I have always been okay, and I will always be okay,
Because I have always existed, and always will exist.”

If you keep listening, the 1% will become 100%.
You’ll know all over that you are entirely okay.

If you keep listening, it will tell you far more amazing things
than “I’m okay,” amazing though that is.


Even if your bank account is not okay, or your body is not okay, or your relationship is not okay,
or anything around you is not okay,
you are okay.

Because these things are not you.

Your bank account is not you.
Your clothes are not you.
Your home is not you.
Your job is not you.
Your family is not you.
Your reputation is not you.
Your social circle is not you.
Your perfectionism is not you.
Even your body is not you.
Even your thoughts are not necessarily you,
because many of them come from other people.

The not-okayness you feel is definitely not you.

The essence of you
is made of the same stuff that God is made of.
The essence of you
is that which remains the same while bodies come and go,
like waves on a shore, or like suits of clothes worn until they wear out, and then discarded.
What is essentially you is your soul.
And souls are okay,
so you’re okay.


Even if something inside tells you that you are not okay,
even if you feel that, if people really knew you, they’d know you aren’t okay,
you are.
You are okay, because you are you.

You are okay... even if your savings account is in overdraft.
You are okay even if the phone company is threatening to disconnect you.
You are okay even if you can’t qualify for credit cards,
( in fact you might even be better off).
You are okay even if you’ve had a bankrupcy,
because our essential okayness is not about our finances.
Money is only about material things.
You’ll be okay long past the time that
all your possessions have worn away to dust.
So you’re okay now.


You are okay
even if you don’t own a Porsche
or a condo in Vail
or a multinational corporation,
or a conglomerate of multinational corporations,
or if you don’t rule a country.

In the end -- on the true bottom line -- these things don't matter.
There will always be someone richer and more powerful than you anyway.

You are okay,
even if you do own a Porsche,
or a condo in Vail,
or a multinational corporation,
or a conglomerate of multinational corporations,
or, even, if you rule a country.

You are okay to have power,
because that means you have responsibility.
If you don’t understand that, you’ll learn,
in this existence, or the subsequent one,
so you’re okay.


Even if you are not perfect, you are okay.
No one is perfect,
and yet somehow the world goes on.
It blunders and bumps, but it goes on.
If the picture hangs a little crooked,
or the presentation to the big client doesn’t go quite right,
or the coloring goes a little outside the lines or you have a fender-bender in the parking lot or your lawn isn’t as green as the Jones’s,
you’re still okay.

If it will still bother you tomorrow, it won’t in a week, or a year, or beyond this life.
So you’re okay.

No one is perfect, and yet we all more or less agree that we’re all okay,
and you’re one of us, so you’re okay.


Even if you think in black and white,
are rigid as a board in attitude,
and have only a hammer, so that every problem looks like a nail,
you are okay.

Because it’s about fear, and fear is only an emotion,
a cloud misting across the sky of reality,
that can grow and become a storm, or dry away in the sun,
depending on your choice.

Shades of grey are there, and you can see them if you try,
and you have many more tools than a hammer, if you but look more deeply into your toolbox.
There is love in you that you haven’t yet realized,
so you’re okay.


Even if your house is a mess,
you are okay.
You can clean it.
Or you can leave it a mess.
You might be inconveniencing yourself,
but you’re okay.


Even if you are having huge changes, you are okay.
As they say, the only thing that is unchanging is change.
All through history, there have been times that were huge changes,
And yet here we are, still here, and still going.
We all have the strength to get through it.
Things will shake down and settle out into a new reality,
which may, in fact, be better.
Huge change may seem like the end of everything,
But, as the historic record shows, it actually never has been.
So you’re okay.

Even if you are in a rut, and feel your life is stagnating,
you are okay.
It may be that tomorrow, the winds of change will blow into your life in ways that you couldn't have imagined.
Or, if not tomorrow, the day after.
It’s absolutely certain that they will at some point,
because the only thing that is unchanging is change.
In the meantime, you can create change if you can kindle your courage.
So you’re okay.


Even if you have lost in love, even if you have had love torn away from you,
you are okay.
Because there is more love.
There is always more love, because it is human nature to love.

Usually we are not speaking all that kindly of ourselves when we say, “That’s human nature.”
But in this case we can: love—that’s human nature.
And it will come back to you, maybe in a deeper and truer form,
so you’re okay.


Even if you are an independent person who has had dependence forced on you --
Or a dependent person who’s had independence forced on you --
you are okay.

You are okay even if you are helpless from just having come into life
Because your soul has only just flown into your body,
so you are close to God.
You are okay even if you are helpless from being near the end of life
Because your soul is soon to fly free of your body,
so you are close to God.

Even if you have been betrayed and abandoned by every relative and every friend,
you are okay.
Because you’ll all be together again at some point,
whether they like it or not.
And in the meantime, there are lessons in solitude,
and beauties that can only be experienced alone.
It's easier to find Spirit when no one’s nattering at you
So you’re okay.


Even if you are on pills that are supposed to be for people who are not okay,
you are okay.
You weren’t always on them,
you won’t always be on them.

Whether they cure your suffering, or manage it, or don’t touch it at all,
you will most certainly leave behind the need for them at some point.
So you’re okay.


Even if you have a physical disability,
you are okay.
Your body can’t fly, but your soul can.
Fact it, none of our bodies can fly,
but all our souls can.
So, really, you’re more or less in the same boat as everyone else, anyway,
and you're okay.

Even if you have a mental disability,
you are okay.
Look at the kids racing at the Special Olympics,
who, when one of them fell, went back to help him up,
so they all crossed the finish line together, holding hands,
putting the audience in awe, and in tears.
Trust me, you’re okay.


Even if you did something terrible in the past,
you are okay.
Because the fact that you know it’s something terrible,
shows you are okay.

Besides, reconciliation is possible.
Repentance and forgiveness are always an option.
I mean, always: they can be your choice any time in the rest of eternity.

Even if you live in darkness,
in a life of lies and crime and wrong,
you are okay
because you are free to choose differently
any time.

Even if you’ve been framed with a crime you didn’t commit
You are okay.
You didn’t commit it.
Even if all the world thinks you did,
You didn’t and you know it.
So you’re okay.


Even if you don’t believe in anything divine,
you are okay;
It’s still there.


Even if you are stuck in the depth of a ghetto,
with no trees or clear sky for miles,
on a planet getting more polluted and poisoned every day,
you are okay.
Because even if you don’t see it, nature is there.
Under your feet, over your head, hidden by the blight,
but still there.
And it will be, when the blight is long gone.
As a child of nature, even on a mean street,
you are okay.


Even if there’s a maniac in the White House
(and we won’t say which stripe), you are okay,
because the White House rules far from everything,
whatever the current occupants might think.


Even if your life was hell when you were growing up,
you are okay.
Because now that you are grown up, you can control your life.

You don’t have to listen to the judging voices,
even the ones inside your head,
because they are not your voice, and not your choice.

You don’t have to feel the shame that was laid on you,
because you have nothing to be ashamed of, and no one can require you to accept it.

You are safe from unjust punishment, from cruelty, from lovelessness.
Love is yours to find, and to give.
Those who hurt you no longer have power over you,
so you’re okay.


Even if you are ugly,
and you hate yourself for it,
You are okay
Because your soul is as beautiful as Paris Hilton’s or Tom Cruise’s.

Even if you a woman and you're fat,
you are okay.
You look like the Great Mother Goddess.
Besides, whatever you look like,
you are part Goddess.
Underneath your cellulite is a core made of the Divine.
If you remember that, you’ll be fine with what you see in the mirror.
You’ll see you’re okay.


Even if you have just found out that you are not who you thought you were;
perhaps you are gay when you thought you were straight;
perhaps you are straight when you thought you were gay;
perhaps you thought you weren’t creative, and have suddenly found a well of it.
Perhaps you realize that your life has been based on a pack of lies.

Whatever it is—you are okay.

Because now you know, which is better than not knowing.
The saying is, ‘Truth shall set you free,’ and it's true;
now that you know, you are free to be who you really are.
And even your circumstances seem not to allow it,
your life will still make much more sense to you from now on
so you’re okay.


Even if you lose all your social status,
You are okay.
Social status is an illusion anyway.
Your dignity is in your heart,
and you may choose to have it or not
Your innate worth is something that no one can take away,
not even yourself; even the belief that you have no innate worth
has no bearing the fact that you do.
so you're okay.


If you don’t know your life-purpose
You are okay.
It will come to you when you are ready.
It may even be that your life purpose is…
to sort out your life purpose.
Even if it is not clear, it is still there.
Your conscious mind may not be in the loop,
but your soul knows exactly what to do.
So you’re okay.


Even if you are in the habit of sabotaging yourself,
you are okay.
Because it’s self-limiting; it is its own lesson.
If you keep doing it, worse and worse,
eventually you’ll get to the point at which you scream,
“No more! I can’t stand it any more!
I have to change!”
And then you will, and you’ll quit doing it.
So you’re okay.


Even if you have to take care of someone who drives you crazy,
you are okay.
You are doing it in love, and love is always okay.
And if you seem to be getting no credit, remember that credit is justly yours;
that way you are giving yourself credit, which, really, is the only credit that really matters.
But don’t forget, that person who’s driving you crazy
will ultimately give you credit.
Even if they are incapable of it in this existence, they’ll thank you in the next.
Love is always eventually returned,
so you’re okay.


Even if you are addicted to something, you are okay.
Because addictions are not eternal.
Whether you find the will to quit,
or you die of lung cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, overdose or whatever,
either way, you will be free of it.
Free to face whatever you were using it to hide from,
and free to be yourself,
so you’re okay.


Even if you get demoted, you are okay.
You still have a job.
Even if you get downsized, you are okay.
You’ll find another job.
Even if you can’t find another job and you lose your house, you are okay.
You’ll find somewhere to rent, and you have all your possessions.
Even if you can’t afford somewhere to rent, and you lose all your possessions,
you are okay.
Someone will take you in.
Even if no one has any room, so you have to live on the street,
you’ll never again have to worry about being kicked out of anywhere
or robbed of anything.
So you’re okay.


Even if you have lost a child somehow, killed or stolen or run away,
you are okay.
Because they will be okay.
Children have strength you do not know,
since they are beings of the divine spark,
same as you.
The love you have for them and they for you,
will draw you back together, wherever you all are in the universe,
so all of you are okay.


Even if you have had watch to watch the person you love most
suffer the most agonizing death,
you are okay.

Because that person is now in a place of no pain,
and saying to you, whether you know how to hear or not:
“Don’t worry! No, really, don't! I’m okay!”
So you are, too.


Even if you have a disease that the doctors say is going to kill you,
you are okay.
Terminal diseases urge people to look at the bigger picture,
something that in our lives we don’t do often enough.

How often have you clarified your own intentions and actions by asking yourself,
‘If I had six months to live, would I do this?’
If you really do have six months to live,
your intentions and actions will be deeply clarified,
you will learn the true meaning of your relationships,
you will be more motivated to seek answers to the questions of the spirit,
and you will be more motivated to look at the fear that underlies all other fears --
the fear of death --
and thus more able to rise above it.
Besides, death isn’t the end of everything. Beyond it lies renewal.
We’re all doomed, anyway. No one gets out of life alive.

Besides—doctors have been, um, dead wrong about this, often.
Studies have shown: the main determinant of how long this life will last
is actually how long you’d like it to.
You choose even this,
so you’re okay.


Even if you have the gun to your head and your finger on the trigger,
or are leaning off the edge of the bridge,
or have the handful of pills in your hand...
There are perfect strangers on the other end of the phone who will tell you:
“You are okay.”
And they will be right.
You are more okay than you know right now.
I mean, think of all the poor schmucks who are in the situations above
that you’ve been blessed never to be in.

You’ve forgotten, because you’ve let dark emotions and thoughts
confuse your perception.
Your problems are not insoluble,
and you are strong enough to solve them.
You have wells of strength within that you don’t even know.
So you’re okay.

And yet even
if you do blow your head off
or splat yourself on the pavement,
or fill your bloodstream with poison...
even then
you are still okay
Because you will still be there.
You will still be there to look back and see the hole you have left,
and the grief of those who loved you, and think,
“What the heck did I do that for? What was I thinking?
It was bad, but it wasn’t that bad.
I was okay!”


Even if every single one of these things is happening to you
all at once,
hard to believe though it is:
you are okay.

You are always okay,
because you always have choices.
You are never without choice,
though it may seem you are.
So you are always okay.

Because there is no death for souls,
we need not enslave ourselves to the body’s greatest fear.
We can let it blow away like the clouds,
attune to the existence of the Divine, and through that,
know in our deepest depths that—
we always were and always will be


If you don’t believe me
that you are okay,
listen to someone who has had a near-death experience.
They are not afraid of death. They’ve had the greatest lesson in our essential okayness.

by yourself,
go out into a mountain range.
Surround yourself with trees, and silence, and clean air.
Lie on the shore of a lake and hear the lapping of the water.
Walk out into the desert and feel the sand under your bare feet.
On a clear and moonless night, look up into the sky, and marvel at what you see.
Be very still; say nothing, think nothing; just take it in.

If you are quiet enough, you will hear.
All these things will tell you the same thing I am telling you.
“The world is wonderful beyond wonderful, beautiful beyond beautiful,” they will say,
in the clearest and most divine voices. “And—above all—ultimately, essentially…
You are okay.”