Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Are You? ... Really?

How often do you hear this and then automatically respond "great - and how about you?" Have you ever reflected upon how often you lie in your response? I realized that I lie quite a bit. I just find it not "nice" to say "Well, I feel like shit because..." and give the reason "I'm in a lot of pain, my Dad died, my husband's in the hospital, my Mom's sick..."

Sometimes I think it would be funny to respond as Whoopi Goldberg's did in "Jumping Jack Flash" when under the influence of truth serum. I don't remember the entire dialog but something like "well, I hate my job, I hate the city, ......, I feel like I'm on my period all the time...." That would be very funny.

I realize I lie basically for two reasons. I don't want to complain and I don't want to make the other person feel bad. Probably the third reason is that I am trying to trick myself into believing I feel great ;).

Because of this behavior, I have been deemed "cold" and "uncaring" by some because I try very hard to put on a happy face and do my crying behind closed doors. I wasn't always like this. But once I entered a predominately male dominated field there was no way I wanted my male associates to see me engaged in a stereotypically "female" reaction.

Eventually this attitude extended to personal issues, primarily because I didn't want to make people feel sad. I deal better with emotionally painful situations if I can focus on what needs to be done and shut the door on my emotions. I've spent years of being in situations where it is prudent to appear unemotional whether at work, sitting in a hostile lawyer's office, dealing with my Husband's heart issue or my Father's death. But this doesn't mean that I don't care or don't agonize over things. I just do it at night when no one is around to see. I deal with a chronic sleeping order and have a happy face during the day - so let people call me uncaring and cold.

So, how are you? I'm just great!! Really... ;)


Anonymous said...

Hi Debbie,

I can relate to your feelings- my saying is usually "I'm not TOO bad", which is as positive as I can be sometimes. I think I've known you long enough to know that your are FAR from a cold and uncaring person. I know you feel pain, both physical and mental- more than your share some days. But Debbie please always remember that there are people out there who care about and love you, me being one of them. So, don't ever feel you are alone in this world, all you have to do is call,and I'll be there.

Your friend always, Kim

Anonymous said...

Debbie - the people who *really* know you, know the truth. Which is why we sometimes ask - how are you *really* - and tell the truth. :)
love d

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. Not surprising, I have thought about these same knee-jerk responses that I give when asked, “How are you?” I, too, usually respond with a smile and a quick, “Oh, I’m doing very well, thank you.” Then I think to myself, “what a hypocrite!” But I realize that my reaction is conditioned much like the saliva of Pavlov’s dogs. Truth be told, it’s just easier for everyone if we answer positively—saves a lot of explanation that neither the teller nor listener really wants to get into. Those of us who know you, Debbie, know that “cold” would be the LAST adjective we would use to describe you. You are a very caring and sensitive person; this is what I appreciate the most about you. We all wear masks, but yes, sometimes it would be fun just to let that mask slip away and tell the unvarnished truth. Of course, they’d replace the mask with a straight jacket, but it might be worth it! Love you, QK

Kerri Jean said...

Those those of us who really know you know that you are not remotely cold or uncaring. I also say "I'm fine" when I'm not sometimes for another reason - I don't believe everyone who asks really wants to know - I think it is a fault of our language that the phrase "how are you?" is bantered about too casually.