The Biggest Lie I Tell
I suspect this is a lie many of us are telling in 2020.
Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash
It happens daily.
How are you? someone asks.
I’m okay, I answer.
Sometimes I’ll be more forthcoming. I’ll say, I’m okay-ish.
Rarely will I tell the entire truth. Who wants that answer?
Like right now, as I am shaken from a horrific nightmare I had when I napped this morning. Did the person who just asked me how I am want to hear that I feel like I’ve just suffered a dementor attack? How I am cold inside, that I have a chill I cannot shake?
Did she want to hear that I dreamt my mother died of a drug overdose (she’s been sober for over 24 years) on Christmas Day? That I had to tell my sister, except that one of my family members did not honor my request to be the one to tell her, so she found out in an unfortunate way? That my nephew, who adores his grandmother, had to be told at only 8 years-old that she was dead and that this happened on the day that is most magical for many a child? I knew Christmas would forever be ruined for him.
Of course, she didn’t want to hear this, and she likely wouldn’t have known what to do with it or what to say to it. I can’t fault her for that because I’m the one who dreamt it and I still don’t know what to do with it.
Still, when these moments occur — and they do every day when you live with chronic pain, anxiety and other mental health issues — I can’t help but wonder why we ask this question. Why do we insist on asking each other how we’re doing when we don’t really want to know the answer?
I’m the exception. I don’t ask that question unless I really DO want the answer… no matter how ugly or unpleasant. That being said, even in the rare cases when I know the person asking me is genuinely interested, it’s not always easy to share the truth. So I get why people will, even if they know someone truly cares, still reply with a two worded lie, with a casual I’m okay.
I also know that getting out those two words is often anything but casual. When you think to yourself, I feel like I’m inside a box and the darkness is closing in on me, uttering an I’m okay is so difficult. When you wish you could scream I am anything but okay getting out those two words is exhausting.
When you stop and realize that while you’re not okay, you are okay — in other words, you’ve considered the alternatives and don’t consider them viable options — it just gets more confusing. I’m okay in the sense that I’m surviving. Things are adequate, if not stellar. It’s my baseline and compared to where I’ve been or could be, sometimes okay is all I can hope or strive to be.
And still, even in those moments, when I say I’m okay, I know it’s not the whole truth. It’s just all the truth I can spare.
Sometimes that is okay, even when I’m not.