Monday, August 06, 2012

take your cliches and shove em

So, I've got this big thing going on that I'm not quite ready to talk about, if you remember. I'm slowly easing my way into it, I've talked a little with a few friends and it went a little viral with a very small group of girls at work who knew or figured out what was going on. I'm still nowhere near ready to open that up here, and I don't know if I will ever really, fully want to go into it (which makes me sad, because it's an issue that I think we should discuss more freely, but it's very loaded and emotional and still raw) but one thing that just keeps jumping into my head is how much I have been hating lately when people ask one of two particular questions.

If I never again hear "Are you ok?" or "How are you doing?" again, it may be too soon.

Now, when these questions come from people who don't know what happened it's not a big deal. I put on my big girl pants and smile and remember that I haven't given them a reason to think I might not be ok, or that the question would bother me.

As far as people who do know? From them, these questions absolutely enrage me. They make me angrier than I can say. Because when someone who knows asks me if I'm ok I just want to put my angry-temper-tantrum pants on and scream at them. "Of course I'm not ok! I'm sitting here right now going through XYZ/XYZ just happened. How in the hell could you think I'm ok???? I am miserable." Which, is a little bit of an overreaction. And these are people who are trying to show me that they care and are concerned for me and worried that I've got a lot of crazy sh*t to deal with right now. The "how are you doing" question has the benefit of being open ended and allowing me to actually be not ok and express my frustration. Unfortunately, it tends to come at places such as work where I really can't go into things and give an honest answer and have to revert to the default socially acceptable responses, even if it's just "I'm hanging in there."

Yeah, I am hanging in there. But that doesn't really describe at all how I'm doing. I'm plowing through things, getting through the day, so stressed out that I'm having trouble eating and am fighting to maintain my weight (imagine that, I'm trying to keep my weight up), and I have never cried so much or so hard in my life. (Sidenote: one day I actually cried so hard I threw my back out. Although it wasn't funny at the time, I'm finding that pretty hilarious right now. Who knew that crying could be such a physically energetic task that you could injure yourself? You can also take the fact that I'm laughing about this to be a sign of sure improvement and a step on the road to doing better.)

The other thing that's been driving me nuts are all the platitudes. I know that people mean well, but I don't want to hear how "everything will be ok in the end" (or all the other variations on that which would be dead giveaways to exactly what's going on so I'm going to let them be). I know the statistics. I know the facts. I know that this is not the end of the world, that there's nothing I can do to control this and that in the end I will get through the emotional aftermath in one piece. I don't need my friends to tell me that. In fact, I flat out don't want to hear it. It's a little bit insulting, in a way. It makes me feel like I should just pick up and be 100% back to normal because, well yeah the situation sucks hard but it will be ok. It doesn't give me the space for my emotions. For my grief.

Now, let's be clear. "I'm so sorry to hear that" or "my heart goes out to you" and all variations thereof? Those are completely fine and very appreciated. It's good to hear that the people I surround myself with can sympathize with my difficulties. That they can recognize I'm having a hard time. It's the bit that, inevitably, comes next where they tell me how everything will be ok, or it was all meant to be, or whatever it is that makes them feel better about reassuring me that really gets me going.

It comes from a good place. I know that, and I understand that. I've probably done the same thing myself, with different situations. I have the good sense to (mostly) let it slide when people say these things to me, since I don't really have a better suggestion for them. If there was something that people could do to help me deal with things, I'd tell them something along the lines of "Thanks for the sentiment, and I know you mean well but I'm a little extra sensitive right now and hearing that it will all be ok is difficult for me. I know you're just trying to comfort me. If you want to do anything, I'd really appreciate it if you could come visit/go shopping to take my mind off things/etc." But the only thing I want is to be left with the space to process this.

When you're going through a difficult time, are there any innocent sayings that push your buttons more than they should? What do you find is the most helpful way to deal with them?

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