A long time ago, I told my partner that if he asked me how I am and I say, “Fine,” he’d know there was something really wrong.
I gave up answering that question with that response many years ago. I was going through a particularly hellish time in life and I realized somewhere along the way that when people would ask me how I was, I would suddenly muster all my strength, put on a fake smile, try to look strong, and say, “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”
I didn’t want to burden anyone with my troubles. I figured, everyone sits by a pool of tears. Everyone has their issues and struggles. Why would I burden them with mine? I didn’t want to be a bother.
I also did not want to burst the bubble of being “the strong one” or “the bubbly, positive one.” Trying to keep up the facade added an additional burden to the painful times I was going through. I walked a long road to finally figure out it’s okay to have hard feelings and it’s even better to be in touch with them and be honest.
And, while I was getting real with myself, I also came to understand that I answered in that way because I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want anyone to know the Crazyville that I was living in.
But when we keep saying, “I’m fine,” and are covering over what’s really there, we can lose touch with our real feelings. We can’t properly tell someone else our emotions or process them if we don’t actually know what they are.
So I decided to get honest with myself and others. I might not divulge everything that’s going on, but if I’m having a hard time, I’ll say something like, “It’s been a little rough, but I’m here.” Or “I’m exhausted” or something else that at least touches on the truth of it if that is not the time to unpack everything going on.
During that time, I also realized that I would say “I’m fine,” when I was really being a bit masochistic, sacrificing my own needs and desires for that of someone else’s.
I’d say something like, “I’m fine. You can take vacation during that week. It’s my son’s graduation, but I’ll just take a red-eye to get there and back.”
What I meant when I said, “I’m fine,” would often be:
I’m dying inside.
I’m giving up.
I no longer have the strength and the will to fight.
I saw that “I’m fine” masks what I really wanted to say. The worst part is that when we do this we start to convince ourselves that we’re okay with not having the thing we actually really want, so we give up on having it, on hoping for it or something better. We are giving up on our hopes, dreams, and our Truth. We are saying that our wants, needs, and desires are not important and we should do without. This is a slow death.
More recently, I realized that Fine has another layer for me. I’ve been working to tease out the difference between being at peace and being neutral about something. Neutral to me equals Fine; Fine is that place where the passion, the emotion, the desire, the gusto is gone.
The reason this is an issue is that for years I told myself I was fine with making do. I know sometimes we need to make sacrifices for a larger cause. But what I’m dissecting here is that status quo of just getting by, of shutting off what calls to you.
Last fall I was flying home from leading a workshop and had finished my book, but had another two hours till we landed. I thought, okay, I’ll check out the TV options on the flight. I scrolled around and landed on the International House Hunters show. In this episode, they were helping people find their “dream home.” There was a woman who walked into a home and started to cry because it was so beautiful and perfect. She and her husband bought the house.
This struck me!
I thought: Wow, you mean you can have your dreams come true? You don’t have to make do with Fine in all areas of life?! (Mind Blown!)
I hadn’t even realized that I had put so much of myself into dormancy.
I think it’s my responsibility to live my life in the exhilarating intersection where my gifts meet the world’s needs, where I am living in alignment with my my truth. And that is an amazing, joyful, exuberant place to be. It is far, far away from Fine!
We are given dreams, desires, passions for a reason and, I believe we are meant to be happy. So I took this aha moment to heart as a wake up call to not settle for Fine, but to love into my life more and be a testament to Joy instead of Fine.
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