It sounds believable, right? And often, it’s the truth. But other times, it’s not much but a passable cover story.
Sometimes I’m not fine, but if I were to want to elaborate further, how would I do that? What would/could I say? How do I begin to explain?
Sometimes I don’t know how to decipher the aberrant information coming into my brain. It’s jumbled static. Most of us have seen that black-white-gray “snow” on TV that occurs when there is no signal. How would that be explained to someone who’s never seen it? Theory of Mind issues are bidirectional.
It’s cliché to say that words cannot describe something, but what does one say when that’s actually the hard reality without sounding trite and unimaginative, leaning on well-trodden phrases?
It’s hard to fake a smile and convincing reassurances, but it’s harder yet to nail down and share what’s often going on inside.
And then, most personal information is appropriately doled out on a need-to-know basis anyway. I’ve often found it challenging to determine my personal security clearance levels; who gets to know what? Who is privy to which bits of information? To whom should I disclose what? To tell or not to tell: that is the (seemingly impossible) question.
How much is too much? How far is too far? In a diagnostically-stereotypical show of “black and white thinking”, my style of interaction is rather binary; I either keep to myself or I open up all the way, not knowing where to stop, not having yet been able to figure out that it’s OK to stop part-way, not realizing that sometimes the basic info is good enough. Because in my world, it’s like Yoda has perched himself on my shoulder; “do or do not; there is no try”. And apparently, this applies to those bum-sniffing, getting-to-know-you conversations, too.
And then there’s the issue of timing. What might have been inappropriate to share a month ago is suddenly OK to confide now. The goalposts are fluid, and they drift with time, making it all the more difficult to draw The Line.
I have an extensive resume of failed interactions, only detected as failures when the telltale glazed expression appears on the face of the other person. Of course, by then, it’s too late; they already think I’m a weirdo, and I can’t stuff the excess words back into my mouth. There are things you can’t un-say.
It has taken me an embarrassing length of time to figure out that when people ask how I am, my answer should indeed depend on the person doing the asking and the depth of our relationship. My partner has the highest “security clearance”, obviously eligible to know the most. Next come my best offline friends, of whom I’ve known the longest. Next comes my WordPress family, who reads, nods, listens with little-to-no judgment because they, too, have often Been There and wrestled with the same or similar conundrums. My parents rank somewhere in there, but there are bits that y’all know that they do not, because I’ve often hit (unexpected and wholly unpleasant) stone walls when trying to confide in them.
Y’all are privy to the personal train-wreck that was my 2017, my massive cleanup effort and about-face that have been my 2018, and most other bits.
I’ll take this time to assure you that no, I haven’t been ignoring you; I really haven’t been on WP as much except to pop in here and there to do at least the bare minimum of checking notifications every few days, hoping to catch (but not always succeeding in catching) them before they fall off the notifications list. The truth is that I’ve been trying to reconstruct various areas of my life, which has proven to be a more intense expenditure of energy and time than I had anticipated.
But it succeeded in our bank account remaining (barely) in the black, a new mental health restoration effort, some renewed bonds with some offline friends who might’ve thought we’d fallen off the face of the earth, and a potential position in a Masters degree program. Because that’s probably the depth of information that I think I’m OK to share with y’all (and that goes pretty deep; there isn’t much left for me to tell).
Someone on the street, however, might see my face scrunched up in what might appear to be something amiss (but is likely more of a case of deep thought), they might ask me how I am, or they may ask me what’s wrong. It took me that embarrassingly long time to realize that they aren’t necessarily looking to know about my 2017 nightmare backstory, nor my 2018 mental health rescue efforts; even the likelihood of degree program acceptance, while safer, is likely too deep to go with a perfect stranger. And the depression/motivation struggles, I’m sure, are certainly out of bounds!
So to them, “I’m fine”.
And, strangely enough, for the first time in a while, that statement might just hold some truth. 🙂
(Image Credit: Laura Iverson)