“Do you ever have those mental health weeks when people keep asking how you are doing?
Do you ever wonder how telling the truth would actually go over?
‘How are you doing, lately?’ They ask.
And most of us stick with, ‘I’m fine.’
My mastectomy is coming up, but I am fine!
You can’t pay bills, but you are fine.
Her marriage is crumbling, and her conservative family will be devastated. She is fine!
His invisible illness leaves him exhausted at work and his colleagues think he’s lazy, he is fine!
Everyone is their own version of that meme of a dog sitting in a burning house with a cup of coffee.
We are fine!!!!
Can we all be honest? Sometimes things are not fine.
My mastectomy is in one week, and over the last few days I’ve made several desperate calls to friends across the country.
‘Talk to me, I am freaking out. I just need you to talk.’
That’s not fine.
Yesterday I hired a babysitter so I could cry and eat my Reese’s Pieces in the shower alone.
That’s not fine.
I woke up at 2:30 am. today afraid that I might die and wondering if I should write letters to my kids, just in case.
That is definitely not fine.
But what it is, is NORMAL.
We accept that it’s normal to laugh, love, live and thrive.
But it’s also normal to hurt, feel, fear, and cry.
Our life is a spectrum of all of these things. None of us are immune to suffering.
The problem is, nobody is talking about candy in the shower. Or the earth-shattering fear of mortality.
We side step discussing our addictions or body image issues or mental illness or hurt and instead smile and sip tea for the camera as our proverbial houses burn all around us.
This is not healthy.
LISTEN. What I am NOT saying is that it’s time to tell the Starbucks barista about your relationship issues or your financial stress.
You can say ‘fine’ to strangers all you want. That’s all they deserve to know, and frankly unloading on a part time barista trying to make enough money for health insurance would be a little much.
But what I AM saying is maybe we could all be a little more honest with the people who love us most.
Maybe if we normalized our hurt, we could all stop pretending our lives are so perfect.
Maybe if we stopped pretending our lives were so perfect, we could connect with other people who are struggling like us.
And maybe if we connected with those who were struggling like us, we would realize we are not alone.
That it’s fine to not be ‘fine’.
Today, I’m telling you straight up: my house is on fire. It’s a candy in the shower kind of Monday.
Everything in my life is not fine.
But saying that out loud, at least I know one thing:
I am not alone when I hurt.
And neither are you.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. The article originally appeared here. Follow Mary on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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