Last week was a long, hard week. I pushed through pain, frustrations, difficulties, weariness, weakness, emotional stress, financial strain, the unexpected and loneliness. If I was to list everything I dealt with the list would actually take pages and pages of writing. That’s why it’s so hard to answer someone when they approach me with the question we all hear…”How are you?”
How am I suppose to answer that question? Do I honestly dump all my insides out on the table allowing myself to be vulnerable, exposing all that I am for someone to pick through? Do I share only a small part of the first thing that comes to my mind in hopes I’m not judged for what I say? Do I choose to not share anything personal at all and simply fake a smile as I reply with the age old response “I’m fine?”
And the questions I ask myself at the very moment when asked: Do they really want to know? Are they asking just because it’s the polite and social thing to do? Do I have time to spend on explanations and justifications when they look at me puzzled due to a lack of understanding? Do I really feel like having to explain myself for the umpteenth time?
It’s amazing how many thoughts run through my mind in those few short seconds between “Hello” and “How are you?”
Many times I am able to quickly evaluate a person’s motives and concern for my wellbeing and I choose wisely. Other times I miss it by a mile. I have found the best response is always an honest one. Sometimes it requires carefully constructed words like…
It’s a dog eat dog world out there and I’m wearing Milkbone underwear.
Well, I haven’t had my morning coffee yet and no one has gotten hurt, so I’d say pretty good at this point.
The most frustrating thing about living with a chronic illness is having to answer someone who asks “How are you?” when there is no easy answer to give. Unlike a broken bone, multiple sclerosis is always there. It’s not temporary, there is no known cure, and it changes from day to day and even moment to moment.
I have found that if someone truly wants to know about me and how I’m doing, they will take the time to stop, focus on the moment and actually listen. We need those kinds of people in our life, and we need to be those kind of people to others.
Today, I’m fine to most of the world, but to those who really care and want to listen, I’m tired (or more like exhausted), stressed about decisions needing to be made, in a financial mess, dealing with a lot of pain, and feeling sad mixed with a little bit of hope. How are you?