Thursday, September 20, 2012

"I'm Fine"

"I'm just fine thank you."
The biggest lie in the world is, "I'm fine." And oddly enough, the one question that really doesn't want to get answered is, "How are you?" Or in New Yawk, it's "How you doin'?" It's become more of a greeting than a genuine concern of one's well being. Strange how that works, yet it's the most common phrases that people use. I remember a funny story about a friend telling me, "Never ask him how he's doing - it'll never end."  I tested it like a jackass.  "How are you, John?" He looked up at me, shook his head and said, "Not good...not good. I lost my job the other day, I have all these bills piling up and I'm totally broke. I can't seem to get my car running because the transmission blew and I have no way to get to any interviews. Mah wife is bitching at me because she's the only one working and on top of that, she's always out with her friends. My dog is sick and needs medical attention -'fraid I hafta' put her down cause the vet bills are too expensive. My back went out last night and I can't seem to do a damn thing these days."  I stood there with my eyes fixated on him, waiting for the next country song lyrics to come flying out of his mouth, but instead, I just wondered how someone who hardly even knows me could unload so much - even if I did feel sorry for him. All of his friends and acquaintances have learned to never ask him those dreaded three words: How. Are. You? It's sad, isn't it?

There are so many people out there emotionally hurting and have absolutely no one to talk to. Madelene and I had bumped into a lady sitting at our local bar, and wow, did she unload on us. It seemed as though everyone in her life had passed away or left her life in some aspect, and she started bawling right there at the bar over her 5th Sambuca. My heart broke watching her sob, asking the bartender for more tissues. After she had left, the bartender says she comes in almost daily doing the same thing to a different person. Thank God he had a heart -- he said he felt so bad for her, instead of complaining about her excruciating emotional pain. The bar was her therapy appointment with alcohol being her self-chosen medication. There are no words to 'make it all better' for someone who has seen the worst in life, or so it seems. All you can do is listen, even if it means topping her hand with yours. That's all she wanted.  And it all started out with those three little words... How are you?

A good friend and neighbor of mine recently lost her husband of thirty years to cancer. She was out walking her dogs and I was driving by. I rolled down the window and said hi....and asked how she was. Her eyes welled up with tears as she nodded "yes" with very little words, blurting out, "I'm fine" -- but she wasn't. I just said, "I know...I'm right up the road if you need anything."  She nodded again, this time wiping away a tear. I felt all the pain she felt just by looking at her face. It was overwhelming how I could have absorbed so much in such little interaction. I know why she was holding back. It's because there are way too many people with insincere "how are yous" and less of genuine concern. She didn't want to bog me down with her sad story, but I would have parked my car right in her driveway and got out just to talk to her if she needed. But how would she have known that?  She wasn't "fine" as she had stated. I hate the fact I didn't drill her more so I could help her, because sometimes people just want to be left alone...or do they?  And she didn't probably want to 'bother' me.  So how does anyone know what to do in this case?

So next time, when you see me or if you come in contact with me and I ask, "How are you?" Tell me. Vent. I'll listen. I wish more people would stop using "how are you" instead of just saying, "Hey there" -- or just a simple, "hi". Be genuine and stop the bullshit.

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rosaria williams said...

I came from Mark's blog to say hi. Truth you want? Are you sure? How many of us can handle the truth?

Deb said...

Hi, Rosaria! Thanks for stopping by! Yeah right? -- Do we really want the truth?? Sometimes sugarcoating our 'real deal' sometimes suffices. But in case of an emergency -- break glass. :)

Dr. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, M.D. said...

EXACTLY how you git to be whorizontal. You're apparently an atheist... because if you weren't, you wouldn't fall head-over-heels in love withe dying world. If God doesn’t exist, why do you hate Him so much?? How can you hate someone who, in your eyes, doesn’t exist? Why don’t you follow us Home to Heaven Above if you‘re gonna croak as I am? How long do we have to enjoy this finite existence? 77ish, measly years? Compared to the length and breadth of eternity, 77ish years is like a dropOwater in the whole, bloody, universe!! …quickly evaporating into nthn… Why don’t we have a BIG-ol, roxx-our-holy-soxx, party-hardy celebrating our resurrection for many eons? I’ll be your faithfull servant, too, for however long you desire: Heaven TOTALLY kicks-ass for eternity. PS see ‘P/C, unsanitized’ and feed-the-poor. Thank you proFUSEly, for the wick is running out on U.S. _thewarningsecondcoming.com_

Snowbrush said...

How surprising to hear from Dr. M.D. that you're an atheist. I'll bet you were surprised too.

"It's because there are way too many people with insincere "how are yous" and less of genuine concern."

I ran into a lot of this in regard to living with pain, so I came to dread the question. People felt like they should ask, but to do so in the absence of really wanting to know was worse than not asking at all. It was also true that I had nothing new to say, so the topic became boring even to me.

The Elephant's Child said...

R U OK? A simple question. One that we often lie about. And one that people lie to us about. I volunteer with Lifeline in Australia an organisation which provides crisis telephone counselling. I have wept with callers and I have wept for callers. Really listening is harder than it sounds and sometimes a huge gift.
I love your caring heart.

Deb said...

Dr Kwak, before answering your series of questions, where did I ever say I was an atheist in this post, or in this blog at all? *scratches head* But I will say I agree that (and I like this term) we should have a “BIG-ol Roxx-Our-Holy-Soxx Party” instead of a funeral service. I appreciate your input.. interesting to say the least.

Snowbrush, I knew you’d be all over that one. Ha! ---- I guess the ‘already known’ answer to the question does get a bit redundant, but due to a physical pain that’s evident, it’s nice to have it asked. I’m sure it really was genuine though in that case.

TEC, exactly! “You ok??” ....And what if we say, “no”? I wonder if the other person would regret asking. Have you ever noticed (especially with an important mission like yours), people talk with “nervous chatter” instead of listening? It’s like all meaningless series of questions or a bunch of cliches that really don’t amount to much or make the other person feel better. I know when I was in a crisis (quite a few in my past) where people would say, “This too shall pass” or “Everything happens for a reason” -- I would cringe. But I do remember one person, yes one...who actually sat there listening to me not giving me any advice whatsoever, maybe a few questions regarding my story, but never giving me any advice. That was the best ‘feedback’ I ever got. :)

Deb said...

P.S. And that one person is also a blogger & personal friend we both know. :)

Shadow said...

a very good subject, one also never talks about. you're so right, no one really expects an honest answer from the question, it's become a rhetorical question, so to speak. and thanks, if we ever do meet, and you ask me how i am, i will answer. honestly.

The Elephant's Child said...

Yup. Listening. Just listening and not offering advice is not easy. But valuable. I suspect that the one person who really listened left you feeling heard and valued for the first time in a long time.