Sometimes, (especially in church circles), they pull out the Big Guns. The sympathetic head-tilt, the pressed palm and ‘How Are You REALLY?’ Try wriggling out of that one Houdini.
The way I see it, this leaves me with three options: Lie. Cry – or (my favourite) Fly. As far away and fast as my little wings can take me. Away from meaningful conversations and open wounds and possible misinterpretations and awkward silences. Away from having to process the stuff I’ve been avoiding.
There are different ways of fleeing: not all of ’em literal. (Tho sprouting wings and taking off is certainly one way of stopping a conversation). Here’s my favourite:
‘Fine’ is the verbal equivalent of ‘look! A Lion!’ and then hoofing it before you have To Share.
At best, ‘fine’ is more filler than adjective. At worst, it’s a straightforward lie. I’m sad. Hopeless. Angry. Confused, lonely, overwhelmed, faithless and fearful. Not squished exactly – but certainly squashed. And definitely, definitely Not Fine.
Thing is, it’s hard to share.
For starters, do people really want to know? What if I start to unburden and their eyes glaze over? If they’re shocked, bored or just indifferent?
I don’t want to splatter the beige. I’ve spent a long time boxing up those feelings – and if I start to loosen the wrapping, they might explode. At the prayer gathering. In the shopping centre. During coffee. And then what? People would Look. And I’d shrink. Or scream and scream and never stop.
Gotta admit though: it’s a tiny bit tempting. Total Meltdown in A Public Space. Take that, security man. I’m CRYING.
If you seal yourself off from others with ‘fine’, those emotions don’t just dissolve. You swallow them and they start to make you hiccup and feel sick. They seep out – in angry words or self-harm or comfort eating or shopping or whatever. Like cooking spaghetti. Leave the lid off a little bit and the steam escapes safely. But if you seal it up, it bubbles over.
I’m Not Fine. For different reasons, this last wee while’s been tough. Last week I went for an ultrasound and there’s more fertility issues there we hadn’t expected. In the pursuit of Health I’ve even gone up a dress size – but surprise, suprise, there are some things food can’t fix. (You’d think I’d learn eh – even if I am coming from a different angle from before) It’s good to be strong and get some curves, but it’s been hard. Test results have been hard. And tomorrow we’ve got another appointment and to be honest, I’m not sure I can do it. So if you’ve got any spares, wing your prayers this way.
That said, life is not ending. There are many things I’m thankful for – my husband, the majority of my body that does work (and I take for granted), my friends, the encouragements you give me, the pleasure of writing, the rain (I am Irish), bellini cocktails, slippersocks and most of all, that Jesus can be trusted with my life and my longings. When I was a skeleton, I didn’t want to move forward or believe I could, – but here I am. And I am so thankful for that.
So – Not Fine. But sort-of okay too.
Which leads on to the big question..
How Are YOU? …No, Really