Just 10 minutes before getting this in my email I had said these words, “I talk and I talk and my words mean nothing to you. You might hear me but you aren’t listening to me, so I give up. I will just go back to saying everything is fine.”
I am fine…
I know I am guilty of saying these three words more often than not. Thank you Sandy for guest posting here today and with a creepily relevant topic. You always touch me core deep.
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‘I am fine.’
That is the answer.
What is the question?
‘How are you?’
Why do we lie? Why are we so unlikely to speak words of truth? Is it due to the fact that upon being asked such a stock question we are programmed to answer with this generic and automatic response, taking the easier, softer way instead of speaking what is really on our hearts and in our heads, hiding who we really are and how we really feel?
Saying we are fine we can’t be considered a bother, someone contemptibly small. Pitiable.
In all honesty, most people don’t truly want to know how we are. It’s just common courtesy. Right? One person asks another person how they are and expect them to say they are fine. Or they are good. Once in a while, great. A social duty is fulfilled and life goes on.
What would happen if someone asked and we dared to utter in honesty
I am sad,
I am confused,
I am pissed,
I am sick,
I am giving up,
I am anxious,
I am lonely,
I am scared,
I am broken?
I can only imagine that the person asking the question would be rendered mute, caught off-guard by our audacity.
Maybe we would be surprised by another human being reaching out a hand, laying it on our sad, confused, lonely, broken, or pissed off shoulder and hearing them say, “Tell me about it.”
We are all so bound by the minutiae of everyday life; schedules to keep, jobs to attend, children to feed, bills to pay, chores to do, errands to run. We barely stop to acknowledge each other many times and when we do it is hollow and hurried. I am guilty of this, I admit.
At this moment, I have a thousand and one things I need to be doing and instead I am sitting here with this question swirling in my head. Am I completely present when someone needs me to be?
The answer, to my shame, is no.
I have been known to minimize the issues brought to me by people who are just looking for someone to be there for them and hear them say, not that they are fine, but that they are sad, confused, pissed, sick, giving up, anxious, lonely, scared, or broken and I say,
‘Oh, you’ll be fine.’
No damn wonder.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a listener. I am a solver. I have been down some rough roads, learned some hard lessons, and have accumulated some life experience that can help someone in need. If someone close to me needs me, here I am and I am all in.
When it comes to people I am not emotionally invested in and I see them with that look in their eye, the look of a person barely hanging on to their emotion and inches from an edge of sorts, I have all those things on my To Do list that make it inconvenient for me to take the time to lay my hand on their shoulder and say, “Tell me about it.”
I need to change that.
Not everyone needs to be saved but everyone does need to be heard. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Think about being a writer and being able shake loose the demons with the words you put on the page. Not everyone has that. Be that person’s page. Let them write the words.
On the other hand, I am awful at asking for help. I will most likely always answer ‘I am fine’ if I am asked how I am. To this day, after years of sobriety and knowing that acting alone inside my own head is not only pointless but dangerous…..I still do it. Maybe because I don’t feel worthy of the help of others when I don’t feel I am doing all I can to lighten the burden of the human condition.
There was a time in my life when someone asked me how I was and I said, ‘I’m fine.’ No I wasn’t. I was miles and miles from fine.
I was sad.
I was confused.
I was pissed.
I was sick.
I was giving up.
I was anxious.
I was lonely.
I was scared.
I was broken.
I thank the people who called me a liar and held me while I ranted and cried and finally,somewhat triumphantly, emerged from the darkest days of my life. I haven’t always shown the same patience and kindness.
I need to change that.
I need to be available when someone reaches out, not necessarily with words. Having been there, I know what it looks like. I need to broaden the scope of people I truly care to help in their time of need.
And I need to learn, or re-learn, to ask for help. If I’m not fine I should say so. Admittedly, that will be a work in progress but, in reality, I always have been.
And probably always will be.
Be there for each other. Ask the question and really listen for the words being said behind ‘I’m fine.’ If you listen with your heart, you’ll hear the truth.
Loud and clear.
Sandy is a writer. She is also a wife and a mother, a daughter and a friend. At the end of the day if she can lay her head on the pillow and feels that she has done her best, knows she tried to do the next right thing then it is has been a good day. Learning when to hold on and when to let go will always be her challenge, but, Lord love her, she tries. You can find the words in her heart on her blog, An Honest Sinner, where she writes about her addiction and other character flaws as well as the things that make her life unexpectedly amazing. Actually, you never really know what she’ll write about. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.