I AM FINE

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

Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire/gratisography.com

‘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 Ramsey

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.

64 thoughts on “I AM FINE

  1. Pingback: I Am Fine | An Honest Sinner

    • I get it. I truly do. I’m just exhausting myself never letting things go. I have people at my disposal that I can let go with but I’m always too worried about what others think of me. I’m a very good listener and give great advice. I just think I could be a little more tolerant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You could – there’s room for improvement in all of us, my DA, yet we don’t all have the same tolerances, and that’s okay. For some people, the BS meter is so much tighter, and for others they just don’t have the patience, or they are quickly frustrated, and it’s just part of their personality, entrenched in their experiences and upbringing and the encounters they’ve had along the way. And that’s okay. And if they want to try to change it, then great – but those expectations and the pressure of feeling like a failure because of not doing ‘as good as’…there’s such irony in there, in you beating yourself up for not being compassionate enough, but I take no joy in it, my DA.

        You are who you are, and you are committed to becoming better, but no-one can ever be perfect. I saw your comment the other day on Mel’s poem, relating to the striving for perfection and always being thwarted by that fissure – that inclusion which renders you less than – and I have to say, my Darling American, it renders you not one jot less perfectly YOU.

        Change if you want to, and try. But don’t break yourself over it, and don’t lose or quash or stunt your personality in all its wonder and jaggedness and amazingness and tricksy bits – use them for good and embrace them. They make you who you are, and you don’t have to apologise for that, not even to yourself.

        Being able to trust and to share is a big, HUGE deal, especially if you’re struggling with ideas of burdensomeness, or boringness, or impositon, not to mention trust. Take it a little at a time, if this is something you want to make different, but do it because you know that it’s good for you, rather than because you feel you ‘ought to’.

        L-word you ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I think many can relate. Nobody wants to be a burden so just shut up and dance, right? It’s getting harder for me to do that. Therefore, these are the thoughts that tumbled from my head to this page. Some ramble, huh?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always say I’m fine. If I tell the truth I feel like a whiner. I mean, we all have our own demons. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have baggage. Who am I to complain? That’s why I hardly ever honestly that question.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear what you are saying, Scott. I made the point that we often lie, minimize our feelings so we don’t seem like we’re whining or trying to gain attention. I know that is the main reason I always say it…I don’t want the attention and I certainly don’t want to be a bother. But I am starting to realize that when someone asks, specifically someone I’m close to, and I just say I’m fine I’m doing both of us a disservice. I’m shelving potentially harmful feelings and, if they know me well enough to know I’m being dishonest, then perhaps they feel like I don’t trust them enough or have enough faith in our relationship to speak truthfully.

      Yes, we all have baggage. But who are you to complain? You are a human being that has every right to, not necessarily complain, but open up about the way you are feeling to someone who cares about you. That’s who.

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      • You’re right, Sandy. Still, I feel guilty complaining about my problems especially when I feel like I’d be complaining to people who have it worse than I do. I don’t know how to change my thinking on that.

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        • I get that too and I feel the same way. I don’t think we need to abide by any certain set of rules. Your comfort level is what’s important. However, did you ever think that maybe the ones who have it worse than you do are looking for a way to say the words and maybe, just maybe, you could open that door for them just by saying what’s on your mind? Just a thought. Obviously, everything depends on the circumstance but just throwing that out there. By the way, I’ve missed seeing you. You’re absence has not gone unnoticed. Find me if you need me, okay?

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          • Yeah, you’re right. As usual. Sigh. One day I’ll get it right.

            As for my absence, my heart isn’t really much into blogging right now. Plus I’m focused on other things right now, some of which I can’t really talk about right now. It’s nothing bad, but I don’t want to lose my focus and blogging has a tendency to suck me in if I’m not careful.

            And the same goes for you and any of my other bloggy friends. My door is always open to you all.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate that cashiers at the grocery store are required to ask people how they are doing. It’s insulting because we are expected to lie, and they don’t really want to, nor do they realistically have time for any other answer than what is expected. a myriad of answers go through my head when asked that question and other than great, wonderful, fantastic… I have too often, most of the time actually, gone along and just said I am fine. I don’t like lies…not even little white ones, and it sucks that when we socially interact we are forced due to societal pressures to utter them. I understand we often don’t have the time for the answer, but I maintain then that we shouldn’t be asking the question in the first place. It degrades the human connection. It’s like saying I want to appear to care by asking you how you are..but in reality you are not important enough for me to really hear your answer so please be a good sport and just lie and say your fine. How bad does that suck? How much does that reinforce a persons possibly battered self esteem? Or maybe I’m wrong and most people don’t even give it a second thought. To be clear I am giving people in service industries a pass because it’s their employers that require that of them, but it still sucks. LOL There are other ways to be social and friendly than asking a question we don’t really want or have time for the answer to. I don’t ask that question..I try not to at least, unless I am able to give just a few minutes to really hear the answer. I try to have honest dialogue but it’s hard in today’s busy world. But I think the point to this…is compassion. Yes, we absolutely need to be mindful that a sweet smile (genuine), a kind gesture (however small), and a few moments of our time now and again…can make a difference in someone’s life. We never know what someone may be going through and if we could all offer just a little humanity the world would be a nicer place. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That last part…right there. That is my point. I’m not suggesting that we should take on the weight of the world or air all of our dirty laundry to every person who asks how we are. I just think if we were all were a little more honest with each other or willing to take a few moments when it is truly needed then, yes, offer a little humanity, a touch of grace…the world would be a much better place.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, okay, so. The last thing I did before leaving the house with my cat to take her to the vet’s office for her routine check up and Program injection was read this post. After Lily’s appointment, I was back in the waiting room with an ancient People magazine waiting for some paperwork to be checked.
    As I’m waiting, a little old lady walks in with her cat. She checks in, and I hear her say her cat, Chuckie, was up all night vomiting, sometimes blood, but then he drank water this morning and his vomiting ceased. Then she comes over, and says, “oh! Are you sitting here?” and points to the empty chair (I was standing). I said, “nope. I’m just standing here.” She sits, the younger guy that came in with her said, “I have to go now,” disappeared, leaving her alone. She was silent for maybe twenty seconds, then turned to me and just started talking. I heard all about Chuckie’s night again, found out his “sort of sister” lived until she was seven, was diagnosed with a tumor and then one night “chose her time” and vanished in the woods. She told me Chuckie was seven now, and that everything had seemed fine until last night, which of course, made her afraid she was going to lose him. Chuckie’s favorite treat is the cube steak she makes for herself. He sleeps on her bed every night, and that he’s her “best friend, and helps so much.” She told me where she lived. I peered into his carrier and said he was a handsome boy, and told her I hoped it was nothing, and that all would be well soon. She told me she was seventy-five, and that she takes medicine for hypertension. I sympathized that her cat’s health issues surely weren’t helping.

    I would have been civil anyway, even if I hadn’t read this today, but I kept thinking, ‘she needs someone to listen. She’s scared. She’s lonely.’
    So this post – so timely. And you’re so right.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a great post Sandy. I’m very guilty of holding everything inside and allow my gut to feel the anxst. It’s not healthy so blogging does help but sometimes just having a set of ears makes it better. We can all learn from your post today. Thank YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Asking for help is a tough one. Admitting we’re broken and we need help to heal and to “fix”, is very different from sharing feelings and emotions with a friend. The casual “How are you?” “Fine.” is expected social discourse, but even when we (I) share with fears, feelings and needs with a friend, I like to discuss it, but will I really bear my soul and ask for help. Asking for help IS a tough one. But if someone asked me for help, I’d be there. Funny we wouldn’t be as kind to ourselves as to a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean. I am more willing to help someone else than ask for help. Admitting I need help is difficult but, fortunately, not impossible. I’m trying to get better at it. I won’t just open up to anyone, I have a small number of people I feel comfortable enough with but even then….

      I don’t intend to stop people on the street and ask them how they are and listen to their life story. I just simply think that when I see someone struggling, and it’s sometimes very easy to tell, I would like to offer that person a smile, a kind word, a token of human connection. Sometimes it makes all the difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have answered that question honestly on occasion. What I would say that is that as often as you may have answered that question dishonestly it may well have been appropriately. You may well have answered “fine” when you’re not but most people when ask are not genuinely inquiring either…best to discern who is interested in your honesty at the time before baring your soul to someone who has that glazed look in there eye once you’re under way. There’s no shame in dishonestly answering a disingenuous question, I say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I have too, but it’s usually done with a bit of smartass. I say what I mean but cover it up with sarcasm, play it off as nothing. I also believe that most people aren’t genuinely interested, it’s programmed. In thinking about it, I realize I don’t really ask the question often to people I don’t really know. I say ‘hello’, I offer ‘fine’ in response to a generalized query, but I think I’d like to be able to be more honest with my circle. If I’m having a tough day and need to say it, why is it so hard? Especially now, after shedding so many of the things I was taught as a child…..be seen, not heard. I’ve been sober for 18 years and I know that bottling up is a dangerous thing and as I said, I don’t want to be seen as weak. However, it is about progress, not perfection. Right?

      I got a bit wordy there, but as far as dishonestly answering an disingenuous question….I’m in total agreement on that point.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m the same way – for the longest time, I would just reply, “I’m fine,” when I wasn’t. I’ve been working on it since Doc left. Now if I’m having a rough time, I’ll respond, “I’ve had better days,” or “It’s not a great day.” I figure that lets people know that I’m not doing so well – and if they care they can follow up and ask what is going on. Sadly, it doesn’t happen very often – usually I get a perfunctory, “I’m sorry,” as they walk away. And, like you, I’ve been guilty of doing the same – I don’t know the person that well, or my day is super busy, or I’m caught up in my own problems.

    As a culture, we’ve been programmed to ask people how they are doing – it’s considered good manners. But it’s really not – not if you don’t really care about the answer. In fact, I think it is the height of rudeness to ask someone how they are – and then give a mechanical answer to their response, showing that you are not really listening or caring. It would be ideal if everyone were more mindful – that they took the time to really listen and respond – but I don’t know if that will ever happen. Of course, change happens with one person – slowly – and (I believe) really listening and being there for a person not only helps that person, but also helps the listener. I always feel good if I’m able to offer some comfort, compassion, or advice to a friend in need.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well said… I’ve been helped so much by people who have just wanted to listen, who genuinely wanted to hear what was going on and offer support rather than platitudes. Just being able to speak honestly rather than keep it in so as not to bother someone – it’s a relief and a comfort. I hope I provide the same sort of ear for others in need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have had sincere conversations with people close to me that I trust where we ask ‘So, how are you?’ and mean it. The amount of relief in knowing someone is listening, may understand, and can offer a bit of comfort, if only in the listening, is a very valuable thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This runs deep in our society these days. So many times someone will ask you how you are in a passing setting and never even expect more and a “I’m fine” or “good” so that both parties can continue walking. It’s keeping everything in that risks not making real collections. Such an important perspective to have people hear – so they can open their ears to their friends, families, and peers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A very true statement you have made here…..we are risking not making real connections. That is probably one of the biggest things wrong in the world today. Nobody talks, nobody listens. Obviously that’s not true of everyone but I think it’s a pretty solid amount of the population. Great insight…thanks so much!

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  11. This is so honest, Sandy, so beautiful. And oh so very true. I think most people simply reply “I’m fine” for so many reasons. We don’t want to be a burden, to impose, to appear less than all together. We know damn well that most people who ask don’t really want to hear the truth. I’ve been honest on occasion with people I thought I could really trust to care when I said “not great today, to be honest” whether it was a bad day in the physical health department or a rough one getting through life after my Husband lost his job and that whoooooole experience. It’s amazing how quickly you find out who really cares…and who really doesn’t.
    I say don’t ask if you don’t really want to hear the answer and that’s what I try to remember to do.
    About the comment earlier regarding supermarket cashiers required to ask customers how they are? Our market cashiers ask “did you find everything you wanted?” I like it. Sadly, I often have to say, “uh, yeah, and then some.” But it takes the small talk and conversation in a whole different direction.
    Glad I found you and got to read today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trust. The other big issue in this. I have a difficult time trusting, having been burned by “friends” in the past. BUT! That was then and this is now. Once I got sober, I literally walked away from all of the people I couldn’t trust, even family. Sadly, the behavior was so instilled in my character that the ability to trust never really flourished. That is what I want to work on.

      You make another good point when you carry the conversation from generic to a little more personal….making the human connection. I think that needs to happen more often, but only if it’s welcome. No one wants to force or be forced into being personable ;)!

      I’m glad you found me too! Thanks so much for reading and your terrific input.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sandy, It means so much to me that you wrote for me. Thank you so very much. I had a lot of time to think about this post and the comments and I realized a few things. A few things that may have inspired a blog post of my own eventually.

        I realized how often I push aside “I am fine” when people say it to me… I always look into their eyes and say are you sure whether I know them very well or not. I think that is just the empathy side of me. Most times people will nod and smile and say, “yea really”. Sometimes I am convinced other times I just keep my eye on them (if I see them often enough).

        BUT…. I always say “I’m good” and smile unless it is someone I know won’t let that slide. And then I will just say, “we should talk soon” 🙂 That allows for time later to truly talk.

        You are amazing and I appreciate you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Hasty, for allowing me space to say what I needed to say. It always feels better when I can take what is in my head and put it out. As far as this issue, it is different for everyone and the nice thing is…everyone can look at this and say, ‘I can change this or that about how I do this one thing’ or they can think…’Meh….I’m doing fine’. Whatever works for each individual. I am like you, I realized how often I just take the answer I am given, knowing it isn’t the truth, and run with it. People need people, for the most part, and sometimes just want to know someone cares. Even if they never tell you a thing, the person on the opposite end of that true concern KNOWS that someone actually gave more than a passing thought to their feelings.

          I’m flattered that you think me amazing. I hope you know that the feeling is mutual and I adore you and your beautiful soul.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. What I usually see is people will only ask you how you’re doing is because they’ve been programmed to do so, either at work, church, shopping, etc. You can always see the look on their faces when you answer them honestly and say, “Well, I’ve been not feeling well as of late” or “I don’t know what to do about this horrible abusive relationship I’ve gotten myself into”. That’s when you have an epiphany and realize, “Oh, you didn’t really want to know how I’m feeling; you’re just being polite; now I get it; in that case, I’m fine”. Not telling people how you really feel, relieves them of the responsibility of actually giving a damn or caring about how you feel, let alone taking on the responsibility of taking some sort of action like digging deeper to see if they could be of assistance or help to you. Most people just don’t want to know because they don’t want to get that much involved. My question to those people is: “Why ask if you’re really not interested in one way or the other?” Love your blog . . . great job!

    Like

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