It’s the pricks you aren’t expecting that slide in the deepest and hurt the most. If only we could get a 1-2-3 and a chance to close our eyes before the shock.
What is it about the tangential kindness of a friend, or in tonight’s case, a stranger daring to ask,
“Are you okay?”
that results in an absolute torrent of tears?
It’s a fucked up concept. Left alone to our thoughts we can compose and keep the dangling, rabid parts from flinging off and clinging to the nearest sticking place. But the moment a human wants to interact, sharing the core connection of that humanness, the spackle crumbles off the form and the holes beneath are exposed.
But then, I wonder about the humanity of someone who asks those questions. I’m afraid people are not that compassionate and selfless. I look inside and I know I’m not. And then I wonder about the tarnish on my own soul because I ask, am I that jaded that I assume most people are usually not okay, so asking that seems redundant and sardonic?
That’s probably not true either.
I probably do think people are okay most of the time. I see them calm in public. Or laughing at a funny, unexpected turn instead of breaking down. I covet that like there’s a tip waiting for me at the end of the night if I do it well. I wonder, how do they do it? How are they okay? What’s the fucking secret?
There is no secret.
It’s not as entry-level as sharp end/blunt end. The people I stand beside on the sidewalk when I step away in a panic, are not complete messes or totally together.
Many of us are not okay and hanging on by a thread and hearing, “Are you okay?”, is the bolt undone that unleashes the mudslide of messy, dirty feelings.
No one like to be caught covered in messy, dirty feelings. They make you cold and wet and then the car is a wreck after the drive home.
What the fix? The plastic poncho and umbrella that keep us from getting splattered? Is it honesty? As simple as, “No, I’m not okay?”, and then sharing and sitting with that icky closeness. Or should we pretend it all way?
I don’t know.
Yes, lovely girl with the fantastic hair. I was not okay last night. Yes, you are compassionate beyond what my brain can wrap around for asking. I diverted and reverted and maneuvered away from me. In a surprising turn, having to convince you I was okay, when I wasn’t, actually nudged me into the direction of okay.
No one could have been more surprised.
I’m not great with surprises.
Now, I still had to keep my routine. Practicing gratefulness. Remembering non-comparison. Trying to self-affirm. All about as useful as they ever are.
But it gave me something else to think about for a while.
And that was okay.