Will I ever be more than just OK?

Every day people ask “How are you?”  Sometimes the person is genuinely wondering how you are.  Maybe you have been sick, and they are wondering if you are felling better.  Maybe, like me, you have recently been through something tragic and they want to know how you are holding up and if you need anything.  Usually though, they ask it just to be polite, because it is just the expected social greeting.  They expect you to automatically answer “good” or “well” because those are the socially expected answers.  Sometimes it is ok to throw in a “fine” now and then.  What they never expect is for you to say any of the following terms: bad, terrible, horrible, awful, sad, angry or anything else that might indicate that you are not doing well.  Most people don’t actually think about the possibility that you might say one of those words.  They don’t, generally, want to know how you are, really.  So why do we ask?  Why is it that we constantly ask everyone, including strangers, how they are, but never actually expect to hear how they really are?

I have come to despise this question.  I haven’t really decided why.  Maybe it is because I don’t really feel like explaining how I really am to everyone who asks.  

I know it is partly because I am annoyed by being asked day in and day out, by people who know what I have been through.  I know they care about me and do really want to know how I feel.  It is just that it sounds so pittyful, so condescending.  As if they are saying “aww you poor thing, how are you?”  Expecting me to be in a horrible, rotten mood all the time.  As if I should be doing aweful and suffering life long depression.

I also know it is because I have not learned to say “good” or “well” like I am supposed to.  I supposed I am well, I am not ill.  I don’t feel good or well though.  I am not sure why.  I am not “depressed”.  I am sad often, as I miss Kaiya very much and wish she were here.  In medical terms though, I am doing well and I am not clinically depressed.  I smile, laugh and have fun.  Like a normal person should.  So when I am having a decent day and not in a particularly sad mood at the moment and someone asks “How are you?”, why is that I cannot say anything other than “OK”?  I do not think I have answered this question with a word or phrase other than “OK”, “alright” or “hanging in there.”  (This was a big one close to the time of Kaiya’s death.  I didn’t even feel like I was “OK” at the time, only that I was simply hanging on to life by a thread.)  I honestly feel that I can not say “good” because, how on Earth could I be good when my baby is dead?  I have actually caught myself starting to reflexively answer “good,” stop, think and then change my mind.  As if I forgot for a moment that Kaiya died, and then realize “oh right, I am not good, Kaiya is gone, so I can’t be good.”

Then there are the times when I actually tell the truth, and when I am NOT feeling even the slightest bit OK, I say “not very well” or “terrible.” You should try this some time.  Watch the look on the person’s face and see them take a few seconds, maybe even longer, trying to figure out how to react.  It is just not socially acceptable!  People will freak out, and honestly it is kind of pleasant for me watch.  The world should figure out that if they are going to ask how someone is, they should really be prepared to hear how that person actually is!

So I wonder.  Will “How are you?”, ever feel like a simple social greeting again? Will I ever be more than just OK?

I long for the days when I can have a good day and actually say “good” when my husband says “How was your day?” instead of always saying that it was “OK.”

Perhaps if I just start saying it, even if I feel as though it isn’t true, it will start feel right again.  Perhaps if I say it over and over, it will be so.  Maybe one day I will be able to do it.  Today is not that day.  For today I am simply OK.

Faithfully,

Kaiya Rae’s Momma

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rebecca
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 12:52:17

    Some day, I am seriously considering answering their questions with complete honesty when someone asks how I am doing. But I guess that would be rude. 🙂 I’ve had a really difficult pregnancy and lately I’ve had people ask me how I’m doing by saying things like, “But you’re doing okay, right?” That pretty much lets me know upfront that if I’m not they don’t want to hear it. If i could ever get it together I think I would write a book about things that people say to grieving people. And how in the end, it’s usually us that try to make the other people feel better.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I am sharing your entry.

    Reply

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