"How are you?"
"I'm fine. You?"
We all have those conversations and we all know that neither one of us really care what the answer is and we are really hoping that the other person doesn't tell us how they are really doing/feeling/thinking. And if the other person actually does tell us we don't know how to respond.
Unless we really do care how they are doing and then we hope they can sense that we really do care and tell us how they are. And if we do tell someone how we are doing, we hope that they really do care.
I have had a really hard time the last six months. Physically I have been
But to most people, acquantinces, co-workers, ward members I am just a strong person and am doing great. What they don't know is how often I am a mess. A curled up on my bed, sobbing my heart out mess.
Yesterday I was in the lunch room running a till just like any other normal Wednesday. One of my colleagues came in to get his lunch. When we finished his transaction he asked me how I was doing. And I gave him the normal, standard I'm fine answer. His reply? "Are you really?" I looked up into his eyes and started to say yes but he said, "Come here" and put his arms around me and gave me a hug and I almost broke down right then and there. He pulled back and said, "Are you really fine?" and I answered with the truth- no, no I'm not, but I will be. and thank you.
Now this may or may not sem weird to you, but let me tell you about this colleague. He is tall, he is funny, he is married and has nine kids, he reads- a lot, he teaches the ASL class and he is deaf (one time I was subbing a distance ed. class that meets in his room when he doesn't have a class. I needed to turn up the t.v. but couldn't find the remote. I asked him how to turn up the t.v. and he grabbed the remote, looked at me and said- you have to tell me when or I will blast you out. I'm deaf you know. then he started pushing the up volume button)
What struck me about this whole encounter was the fact that there are colleagues that I spend a lot more time with. Colleagues that I spend more time in conversation, though he and I do have some pretty good conversations- did I tell you he was really funny? Colleagues that ask me how I am doing. Colleagues that are counselors even. But the one person that knew and understood not only that I wasn't ok, that things were not great, that I just really needed a hug and to be told it would be ok, is the one person that had to look at me when he spoke to me. The one person that can not rely on my fake voice inflections to convey my meaning. The one person that looked at my eyes and saw inside to my reality.
And I began to ponder how often I take words at face value and let a student, a colleague, a person go on their way because I forgot to see the person in front of me?