“How are you doing?”
It seems innocent enough and at the time you asked I was laughing and sipping my salted caramel latte. It’s the normal conversation that friends have over coffee, or at the salon, or over the phone. But I would feel like a fraud if I gave you the brush off “I’m good!” I know that you would know that I am lying- especially if you can see my eyes as the fear, anxiety, pain, and tears well up.
I tried it once- to straight out lie. I was at my doctor’s office at a routine visit for my annual health screening.
“I’ve been copied on all of your husband’s medical records. I know about the cancer. And the surgeries. And the treatment. How are you doing?” my doctor asked innocently enough.
And in that moment I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs
“I’M AN ABSOLUTE TRAINWRECK! I’M TERRIFIED AND I’M OVERWHELMED AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!”
But instead I calmly replied “I’m really handling this all quite well.” And as if that wasn’t enough I followed up with “I’m quite surprised with myself at how well I’m doing.” No sooner did I squeak out the last syllable then the tears began sliding out of my eyes before I could stop them. The lump in my throat grew three sizes and before I knew it I was doubled over dry heaving.
I have come to realize that I will give myself away if I try to lie. So when you ask me how I’m doing I freeze up. I am suddenly speechless for the first time in my life. Because I know that to say “Whelp, I had 2 cups of coffee, a diet coke, and a handful of Xanax for breakfast” isn’t really the answer you’re looking for.
You see, right now I am broken.
One of my most pronounced qualities is my unwavering, unsettling, off guarding, and sometimes downright brutal honesty. I’ve been described as refreshing, abrasive, hilarious, coarse, and a downright bitch. It’s polarizing and magnetizing to people. It’s one of my favorite things about me. And also the bane of my existence.
Brutal honesty can make life hard too. In a professional setting more often than not I am sitting in a conference room wondering if I will still have a job by the end of the day. I lack what some would call “finesse”. I just say it. My motto is “Let’s call a spade a spade” and nothing frustrates me more than people who pussyfoot around. Just say it- the dirty, nasty, horrible truth.
Right now my honesty is paralyzing me. A simple question can bring me to my knees before I even know what hit me.
So ask me again: How am I doing?
I am trying to find my way back and I know I will one day. But right now I am watching the man I love get sicker by the minute. The worst part is that he’s getting sicker because of the poison we are pumping into his body daily. We now have 4 prescriptions to combat the side effects of the first prescription. You wanna talk about a total brain wrench?
I hesitate to put this out there because I’m not looking for sympathy. And it’s not really that I truly don’t want people to ask how we are (although simply saying “We’re thinking about you” would be a good alternative.) I only put this out there to shed some light on what others may be going through. Some people can’t be as transparent as I am genetically predispositioned to be. And so true to form here, I am baring my soul in all it’s raw vulnerability:
I’m not fine. I’m not okay. And he’s not either. But we are doing the best that we can. We are surviving. We are broken together and that’s all that matters