“Not Always Ok:” The Story Of The Red Balloons


“Katy,” I said. “I’m not doing a very good job at this.” She looked at me, inquisitively, before her gaze went back to the passengers boarding our aircraft. “What, Honey?” she questioned gently, as she intuitively knew by my tone that I was not speaking about work or the airplane.

“At forgetting him.”

I paused slightly before I continued. “At not crying. At not missing him. At simply forgetting. It’s strange, cause I’m happy and probably more happy than I’ve been in a longtime. But, I’m not always ok…”

I hadn’t expected her response to be what it was, but maybe I should have. Katy has this wisdom about her and this kindness; knowing just what to say when. “Kara. You are doing amazing. It’s ok that you miss what you thought would be. Of course you do. It’s ok that you still cry. That’s how it is. But, you aren’t letting it change your happiness. It’s normal.” She paused and then repeated again, “You are doing amazing.”

I looked at her with a gaze of quiet gratitude. We all need someone to remind us that we aren’t as crazy as we feel. I believe her. Somewhere in my disappointment, the rejection, and loneliness over a relationship that I 100 percent wanted, but didn’t workout, I’ve discovered a joy and deep sense of assurance. It’s as if I’ve been engulfed in a trust and knowing that, “all things work together for good.” 

Does it help? Yes. Do I still wish the outcome was different? Absolutely. Does it mean that if “things work together for good,” I will have this relationship back? No. Maybe. I don’t know, but does that matter? Sometimes life simply hands out shitty situations, we make mistakes that direct outcomes, and there are many things beyond our own control. Asking too many unanswerable questions will makes us crazy and besides that, what if there is something even better waiting beyond the pain and heartbreak of this moment? What if?

Wish Tattoo Airline Tattoo

I type this as I’m crying. As I’m on another airplane. Alone. Jet lagged as ever. Uncertain more than ever. And certain more than ever that God sees me here. He sees me because he saw me here before. He saw here years ago.

I was twenty-two years old, when I believed that God had forgotten me and that maybe, there really wasn’t a God. I would still say these silent prayers as I would cry myself to sleep at night. Every night—wishing that I would just not wake-up the next day. Wishing that I was someone else. Someone prettier, skinnier, smarter, happier…anything but the girl who I was. I had lost all hope, purpose, and desire to live. I remember one night, running down a dirt road, sobbing so hard that I couldn’t run anymore. I fell to the dusty ground, looked up at the sky and threatened Whoever might be up there— “Don’t you dare leave me here!” My anger and desperation was palpable; my plea heartbreaking. And Whoever was listening, didn’t just listen, but that Something, the Universe, God— whatever you want to call It—transformed my life, my world, my heart, and my soul. 

Kara Mulder God Wins

There’s something about that moment that brings me to this moment. My whole entire life and existence is a testament to hope revived, miracles happening, and a life changing. For one, I sincerely and utterly believe I shouldn’t be alive today and for two, I absolutely know for a fact that this “second life” that I was given to live, breath, and share is not just by happen-stance. I was not only NOT left “there,” I was taken all over the world; lovingly whispered to through the beauty, adventures, people and places, “See, look what I am doing in you, through you, and by you. Hang in there Darling. It’s going to make sense.” 

My mom bought me seven red balloons today, because seven is a perfect number and red because it symbolizes something, but I cannot recall what right now.

I wrote your names on the red balloons. I wrote your names as I no longer needed you weighing me down…


“Not Good Enough”

“What I Thought We Would Be…”

“The Need To Be Thin”

And then, I let it all go.

I watched as you rose into the bright blue sky and blinked as a tear slid down my cheek. I walked back inside and quietly sat down at the deck in the kitchen. “If I just did that, why do I feel worse?” I questioned. “Letting go hurts.” Mom said as she hugged me. Mom hugs are the best hugs.

Maybe it’s just me, but why is it that what is often best for us and what we know is best is so hard to do? Why do we hold so tightly to things that hurt us or to what we cannot change?

The Red Balloons

I took a deep breath, got in the car, and we drove to the airport. Mom hugged me goodbye before I went through security and boarded the flight. I didn’t necessarily feel lighter, more free, or less sad. But I’m growing. If I’m honest, I’m not always ok, but even admitting that is growth and progress. The last two months have been a beautiful, real, uncertain, and painful journey, but wow! It has also been so incredibly full of lessons, life, and learning!

Learning to let go. Learning to be ok in the space of, “Not always ok.”

You were meant to soar. You will get through this season. You are strong and brave and beautiful. Let go of what is weighing you down. It’s not worth holding on to what’s holding you back.

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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