Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Lisa-Jo Baker, the author of this post, says she's over being "fine". Hers is a beautiful post...so sweet, so transparent. I admire her attitude and openness.
I'm not where she is. I may never be.
When someone asks me how I am I usually answer with a smile and the usual, "Fine, thank you."
In my mind, I justify my answer because, really, I guess I am fine...if you compare my problems with those who have it much worse than me. That works, right? That makes it okay to say "I'm fine" when I'm anything but fine, doesn't it?
You've done it. I've done it. We've asked someone how they are, just because that's what we're supposed to do. Sometimes we might really want to hear their answer. And sometimes, we might be dealing with too much ourselves to be able to listen and to care. I get that. But I have to say that there have been very, very few times when someone asked me that over-used question and I knew, felt, that they wanted to know. That they cared. And even in those few instances I couldn't answer honestly. It hurt too much, and it opened me up to rejection. Again.
Sometimes I want to tell them, just tell them, "If you don't want to know, don't ask. I'm tired of being untruthful." But I know they're only doing what I have done over and over.
Sometimes I want to spill. I want to tell them that I'm not okay. That from childhood I have dealt with anxiety and depression and that I despair of ever getting better. I want to tell them to stop judging me just because I might not handle stress as well as they do. I want to warn them to not even think about telling me to "buck up", because that's what I do. I have to in order to simply live through some days. I want to tell them that sometimes I feel like I've been sucked into a black hole from which there is no escape. And God doesn't seem to be there. He doesn't seem to be anywhere. I want to tell them that sometimes I feel like a broken little girl who will forever be looking for acceptance and love, but who will never believe anyone who says they love her, because she can't. I want to tell them about my family, one of the saddest I've ever heard of. I want to tell them how I've been crushed by people who others would call saints. I want to scream that I don't get it...any of it...and that I'm worn out from trying. I want to tell them about the fears that haunt me, especially at night. Fears of failing in every area of my life. Fears that cause my heart to palpitate and bring on something akin to a panic attack. I want to tell them how much I miss the two dearest people on earth to me. How I weep for them when no one sees, and how I hurt because I know that so few mourn their deaths with me. I want to tell them not to believe the bright smile I wear, because it's only a mask that hides the ugly mess I really am. I want to tell them how I despise myself. I want to tell them that I know I have it better than most...I do...but that doesn't take away the pain. And it doesn't make me ungrateful at all. In fact, it probably makes me more so, because I know how little I deserve all with which I have been blessed.
I want to tell them all these things, but I can't. Because they would be startled, embarrassed, shocked, angry and disgusted. They might tell me that I'm being over-dramatic. That I'm feeling sorry for myself. And, if they did, I would die inside...all over again.
It's a whole lot simpler to just say, "I'm fine."
But, I'm not fine. And I'm too scared to say so.
Please think of this when you ask someone how they're feeling. And, to those of you who have chalked this post up to one big pity party, I guess there's nothing I can say to change your opinion. But I ask that you think about your judgments until you've walked where I have walked. And I ask you to take the time, at least once, to listen to the answer to your question and to hear, really hear, what that person is not saying.
I'm reaching...grasping...for hope. I'm praying that God can help me not necessarily to be "fine", but to just get better. To get real.
There are a lot of people who need to do that, too. You're not fine. I won't offer you advice that I'm not even following, but I do want you to know that you're not alone. More of us are wearing masks than you could imagine.
God sees behind the mask. Sometimes that terrifies me. Mostly, it comforts me, because He's the only one Who can help me with what He finds there. He can help you, too.
I still believe that, someday, I can be healed and used of God to help others who wear the mask of "fine".
To a certain person who has been faithful to ask me how I am, to want to know, and to persist until she gets the answer, thank you. You know who you are.