|"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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