When we ask someone how they are doing most times the person’s response, is “fine”. You know the quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”? It’s mostly true. We never know what someone is going through unless we ask. And when we ask, you must be prepared for the answer. Once you get that answer no matter how icky it makes you feel, it is then your job to hold space for that other person. Why? Because I want you to think back to when someone did this for you. Close your eyes, imagine a time in your life when you were struggling. Did you keep it all in? Or did you open to someone you trust. We need to be reciprocal for the people that matter to us. When we aren’t ok we say we are fine because we worry about how the other person will respond or react. And God forbid we say how we are in case we get looked at like we have something on our faces, or the other person runs away faster than Usain Bolt running the 100-meter dash. It is time to change how we respond to someone else’s emotions because of how it makes you feel. Unless it’s directed at you of course and that is another blog topic.
My therapist told me recently, “Fuck it, Tiffany. Why not just say how you are feeling? People need to understand where you are coming from even if it makes them feel uncomfortable” Good Point. But there are times, I am so exhausted in my own grief that I just don’t want to talk about it and say I’m fine even when I’m not. Since my brother’s death five weeks ago, my husband asks me daily, how I am doing. He knows damn well how I am doing. I know he is doing this to make sure that I know he’s there for me. Being the smart ass that I am, I want to respond at times with “How the fuck do you think I am doing?” He isn’t the only one though. This happens a lot when your world flips upside down. You don’t know which way is up. Loss does this. You do everything you can to keep it together when really you should be allowing for the emotions to flow when they come. Cry when you feel it happening, laugh when something is funny.
No, I am not ok. I don’t know when I will be. Each loss I have experienced creates new complex layers about myself that when I think about going through another loss, it scares me more. Loss is inevitable though, so in the meantime as I process the death of my only brother, whom I loved more than anything, I will do my best to answer someone honestly when they ask how I am. With faith, and the work that grief entails, my life is forever changed. But I am here to say we are resilient and can move through horrible events in our lives if we are willing to ask for help, and tell the people around us, we are not ok. So before responding “fine” to “How are you?” Try opening up instead.
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Tiffany (RYT 200®) is a student and teacher of yoga living in Baltimore, Maryland.
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