Are you okay?
Wait, don’t answer that. I know you won’t tell me the truth.
I know you’ll mouth some polite platitude or long suffering hand-wave. I’m fine, you’ll say. I don’t blame you. I’d say the same. Who really wants to know?
You won’t talk about the fears and doubts that well up inside you, about the days that weigh on you like a blanket. About the gnawing hole at the centre of your chest that nothing will ever fill.
You won’t mention the hours of desperate need, the craving, the sense of loss and dislocation when you realise how far apart you are from other people, how irrevocably separate.
You won’t tell anybody about the thoughts that run through your mind; thoughts that nobody should have. About the times when you hate yourself so much you don’t know how anybody could ever love you.
I don’t blame you. What would the reaction be, if you let that kind of thing out? Sure, people say they want to know how you feel. They say they care and you can tell them how you feel. But they don’t mean it, do they? They don’t really want to hear all about your deepest anxieties. They don’t have time to hear the whole list of your inadequacies, to reassure you, to try to cheer you up. They might make a token effort, but after a while, you will wear them down and their patience will run out.
They don’t know, after all, how broken you really are. If they knew, they never would have offered.
Anyway, people don’t respect weakness. They might say that it’s okay, but you see the pity in their eyes, the judgement. It’s not attractive. Nobody wants to be around someone who’s a downer. Nobody wants to hire someone with issues. Nobody wants a partner who is too much hard work.
And, what’s worse, talking about it makes it more real. You might say something you can’t take back. You might be a little bit too honest, and then the way that they look at you will change, forever, their eyes will cloud over with something that defines you permanently as “other”, as different, as lost.
And so you remain silent. And they remain silent too. And you both carry on, you all carry on. And the things we can’t share stay inside us, and we never know, never really know, that we are not alone, that everybody else is just as lost, that the emptiness inside us is normal, that if only we could find a way to bridge the chasm, we would find a place of strength, of understanding, of communion. We are all lost, we are all confused, we are all separate. We all belong, we are all home, we are all whole.
Are you okay? Yes, you are okay.