Yesterday my sister asked me: How are YOU?*
It took me some time to answer and yet, my answer wasn’t able to fully express my state.
This is a question with so many facets. Answering how I feel is like summarising the ups and downs as they change so often and so much and it’s almost impossible to find a simple answer. It is also a question that, at least for me, requires a climate of space, time, openness, ability to feel, hear and be heard, acceptance and especially the ability of the listener to just allow the answer to be there.
So often in the past I have been offered solutions to ‘apparent problems’ that I didn’t even have in the first place, and not just when expressing how I felt. Why not just change the way you feel, if it doesn’t feel good! Especially when taking the time and opening up to how I feel it is disappointing that I’m met with not just my own desire to change it but also the always good-intended ‘I just want to help you feel better/different’ vibe. I know there is always good intention but more so it’s the uncomfortable-ness of being in the company of someone that is less than happy and smiling.
If there was absolutely no point or benefit in feeling exactly the way we are feeling at each moment, whether that is comfortable, bad, uneasy or the opposite, why would we?
Especially during the process of grief I know from my training as a grief counsellor that those feelings of anger, disappear, blame, sadness, disbelief and acceptance all have their reason and their place. Accepting that in myself and my own personal experience is yet another pair of shoes. Yes, the feelings are bloody uncomfortable at times! That’s why we move through them (hopefully).
The other day I asked a friend of mine: And how are YOU? Her answers always seem to be thought through and coming from not just the surface. Her answer was: ‘I’m content’. It doesn’t say much in itself but it’s definitely different to the very common ‘Thanks I’m fine’ that we hear all too often.
* The question in the language it was asked (German: Wie geht es dir?) implies a real interest in how someone is doing and is not used like the English phrase meaning ‘Hello’.
- Grief as a Teacher (spilledcookies.com)