I'm an Honest Person – Until You Ask Me, 'How Are You?'
I am an honest person. I believe that honesty is the foundation to building solid relationships and communicating with those around us. I cannot stand dishonesty. The way I see it, if I find that someone has been untruthful or lied to me, it can take quite a while for that person to rebuild their trust with me.
Deep down, I feel like a hypocrite. While I strive to always be honest with others, and expect the same in return, I am often dishonest. The most common question from which the dishonesty emerges, “How are you?”
“How are you?”
It is a question many of us hear on a daily basis from family, friends, colleagues, or acquaintances typically after a brief greeting. My response is usually automated and something along the lines of, “I’m good, thanks. How are you?” My goal is to shift the focus away from myself and focus on the wellbeing of the person with whom I am speaking. Because if I were honest, my response might be something like this:
“Well, I tossed and turned all night trying to find a position that wasn’t causing pain in my hip and when I finally found the right spot for that, I had shooting pains in my neck on top of my back throbbing. Also, if I stay in one place to long, my (insert body part here) goes numb and tingles and makes me uncomfortable. This lack of sleep lead to anxiety about the day ahead and wondering if I will have the ability to function. Right now, I’m so tired my eyelids hurt, and as we stand here having this conversation, I feel like someone is punching me all over my body. If I looked the way I feel, I could straight up be an extra in a violent horror film. Oh yeah, my head is pounding because I am using every ounce of my energy to focus on this conversation and not the pain and fatigue I am feeling.”
Kind of a downer, huh?
I am an honest person – until it comes with being honest about how I feel. So, why is that?
I have always been a strong-willed, and what some might call “stubborn” individual. I want to be viewed as capable and able to handle any challenge. I am the problem solver, the peacemaker. I do not want to be the person with the challenges. I do not want to be the person that cannot handle a situation. Anyone who knows me well will tell you, I have a difficult time saying “no” when someone asks me to do something regardless of how I am feeling.
In the five years I’ve dealt with ongoing chronic pain that I ultimately came to find was fibromyalgia, not only have I been in denial with others…I’ve been in denial with myself. I’ve spent so much time clinging to the person I used to be, that I’ve failed to get to know the person I am in this time, in this moment.
I am slowly learning to be more honest about my condition. While I may not go as in depth with others as I did above, I am learning to be more open about how I truly feel on any given day, something that in and of itself is a struggle. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ve found in my case, when I do not talk about my pain or symptoms, even though they are present, they are easier to ignore. But when I bring them up, I have to face them 100 percent. I also used to think being honest about my condition would make me appear weak, but that is not the case.
Honesty does not equal weakness; honesty equals awareness.
Awareness. Something that is so critically important to those of us living with an invisible illness. While we may have individuals around us who love and support us, they are not psychic. Unless we learn to be more open and honest with them about how we are feeling, we cannot expect them to even begin to understand what we are going through each day.
We have to remember that when we speak up, we are not complaining…we are advocating. We our giving ourselves and our health a voice. We are teaching others how to help us and teaching ourselves how to navigate through life while thriving with whatever condition we may endure. It is scary to open up, but I’ve found that it also can provide a great deal of relief.
Maybe, just maybe, honesty can be the best medicine.
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash