What if “How are you?” doesn’t have an easy answer?

Written in March of 2022

It’s another slate gray day outside and within my soul; I am drained. I have slowly re-entered the world of motherhood – washing dishes, wiping sticky fingers, scooping up toys and placing them in bins, and filling cups, all while having an inner monologue blazing through my mind about what to say, pray, and do next. I exhale. Just writing about this is sucking the life out of me.

As I lay, exhausted on the couch, my mind wanders to conversations I have had as I slowly begin to regain my balance. “How are you?” There it comes, the question I dread answering. This query hits me straight in the face and my brain tries to fumble around for an answer. How am I? Depending on the moment of the day, the answer to this question fluctuates as much as my children ask for snacks as time crawls by in the day.

How do I answer this? My chest tightens. How do I put into words what my body and mind are thinking and feeling? The burdensome pain shoots up from my shoulder along my neck. Can I just say I barely survived today? My brain catapults several other answers toward me.

I felt joy when I looked at my kids again, praise God! However, I also fought back tears as I drove to a restaurant to meet a friend for dinner because I am not sure I’m ready for other people yet. I got my kids out the door for swim lessons while my son was having an all-out screaming tantrum. But I had to keep taking deep breaths because I wanted to race up the stairs and hide in my bedroom. We are so blessed to have so many people helping us. And it crushes me to know that I have to get help from others. I actually went into Trader Joe’s yesterday and bought a bouquet of tulips, but I couldn’t even try to look at the food; it was too overwhelming. My husband went back to work this week. I’ve been on my own with the kids for four days. Well, really only three because my in-laws had them for one day.

Then, as if the true feelings can’t be suppressed, they surface. What I really want to blurt out, in hopes that I can somehow make sense of it myself, is why a helpful text makes me want to scream, cry, and punch something all at the same time. I want to be able to do everything again on my own. I want to multitask, serve other families, organize, order gifts for people, meal plan for my own family. I want to feel like me again. I don’t want people thinking I can’t do things. That makes me want to punch something so hard that a hole is left gaping in the wall. This makes me feel helpless, like I’m someone that people are going to have to keep helping and tiptoeing around for the rest of my life. That’s the truth of how I am. I want to say all of this, but my body is screaming, No, you can’t let anyone know these feelings. They will think you are crazy. I push back the lies, take a deep breath, and I begin to answer the question that makes my insides churn.

I slowly breathe out the words of the ups and downs of this week. Multiple friends have asked me this question; they all listen, nodding their heads, tears filling their eyes. We embrace, Christ’s love flowing between us. Friends, let’s be the friends that listen to the long answers to, “How are you?” and at the end of everything said, let’s embrace—letting Jesus’ love speak for us. And as several dear friends have reminded me, if it’s a safe space, let’s also share our answers to this tricky question, trusting our friends to bear our burdens. Let’s be courageous in our friendships this week, letting Jesus’ love flow between us.

2 responses to “What if “How are you?” doesn’t have an easy answer?”

  1. Love you so much, my beautiful friend. Praying that you will always know that you have a safe space in me.

    Like

    1. Love you! And you are definitely a safe space! ❤️ Love you so much!

      Like

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