It feels so cliché to even write about this…

I’m fine.

How often do we say it? How often does someone ask, “How are you?” Barely a day goes past without these social niceties. The attendant at the service station, the telemarketer on the telephone, colleagues at work, friends on Facebook, my kids, husband, father. Everybody asks. They all get the same answer.

I’m fine.

Except when they know I’m not. Then I say,

I’m fine.

They want something concrete. Something to clarify what’s going on. A sentence or two to explain the exhaustion in my eyes and the sadness in my voice. But I don’t know how to say it. I don’t even know the answer myself.

How do you sum up a sense of despair or hopelessness in just a few words ? How do you tell those that love and care for you, right now you’d rather go to sleep and never wake up? How can you say you feel shit but you don’t know how, why, or what for? But you do know it will pass. You do know what to do. You do know it will be okay. And you also know the words won’t come and it is far, far easier to say,

I’m fine.

Is it dishonest? I guess so. Is it unfair? Yep. Will I divulge more if you push? Undoubtedly.

Why didn’t I explain the first time? Because I don’t know how. Because I don’t know if you really want to know (most people don’t). Because dealing with your problems is far, far easier than thinking about mine. Because explaining what’s going on is exhausting and I don’t know what’s going on – I have to work through it and that takes time. Because there might not be anything going on at all – but I’m still not fine.

So here’s the thing, if I say, I’m fine when I’m not, what do I need from you?

I need you to be honest. If you think I’m not okay, say so. If you’re not sure, ask again. If it pisses you off I wasn’t honest the first time, say so. I’m fragile – not precious. (Yes – there’s a difference!) When I’m really not fine? I definitely need someone to care enough to dig just that little bit deeper.

And you know what else? Sometimes when I say I’m fine, I really am just fine. I promise 🙂