How Are You Really Feeling Today?

This may come across as a bit personal but I’m asking the question anyway – how are you feeling today? Sad? Happy? Worried? Hopeful? Every day of our lives we are exposed to a diverse range of scenarios which impact upon our mood and outlook on life. These can be temporary and superficial or more serious and long standing. How we respond to them moulds our character and shapes our personality. It contributes towards who we are.

So many of us though are reluctant to show the world how we truly feel. It feels….well wrong. Especially if those feelings are not what are expected by our peers. So we wear a mask, we play a role and when asked reply cheerily that everything is fine when in fact it is anything but. We lie to our loved ones and to ourselves. It is necessary in order to fit in, to be accepted. Nobody has time for worry warts or harbingers of doom, right?

I’ve seen it in the workplace, the church and many other social settings. People running around with smiles plastered on their faces when inside they are falling apart. They are afraid to admit they are struggling for fear of what others will think of them. It is both a vicious circle and an ever decreasing one. Why wear your heart on your sleeve when you can bury it under layers of empty words and glib cliches.

I used to be like that. When my father died eight years ago I was expected by some to carry on. There was a funeral to organise and a million and one other matters to attend to. I didn’t have time to grieve. I recall going home that first night and drinking beer in the living room after everyone else had gone to bed. It was to become a ritual that religiously adhered to for the next few years. Yet to the outside world I was a rock.

Inside I was a frightened little boy. Struggling with a loss that it was impossible to rationalise. How could a sore hip that everyone thought was a gardening injury suddenly become terminal prostate cancer? How did so many doctors, consultants and other specialists miss it? How did I miss it? How did I ever think he was going to get better when the evidence that he was not was staring us all in the face?

My father was dying and I was fine. My father died and I was fine. My father was dead and I was fine. Yet I wasn’t fine. I was anything but fine. I wanted to scream at the heavens and claw at the earth like a crazed, feral animal. I wanted things to be as they were before. I wanted to say goodbye properly, I wanted to say sorry, I wanted to say all the unsaid words which instead lay festering on my conscience.

It was only when I started writing that I found the means to lance the boil. This has been a painful, ugly but ultimately cleansing and liberating process. I have allowed the mask to slip and finally looked in the mirror. I see the real me staring back, not the distorted charade I used to be. I’ve thrown away the crutches and stand tall now. What you see is what you get. I wear my scars like trophies of war.

What would you see if you allowed the mask to slip? Would it be good, bad, ugly? Or perhaps a combination of all three. It takes courage and not all of us are at that stage of our journey yet. But ultimately in order to heal we must first reveal. Reveal the truth for what it is and face it unashamed and unbowed. Give the real you a fighting chance to show the world the real reason you were placed upon it. You can only accomplish that by dropping the act.

How are you really feeling today?

How often do you put on a performance for the watching world?

93 thoughts on “How Are You Really Feeling Today?

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  1. Being in the hospital, I realized that I keep everyone in the dark. The only people who know I am sick are my husband, kids, and mother. No one is here for me because I kept everyone out. I do the same with my work and personal life. Maybe because I am 50, and I don’t want anyone in my life, or maybe it’s because I always feel as if I would fail. I figure when my book comes out my family will know what I have been doing. When my father was on hospice for 19 days he told me to do what I was born to do to be happy, and that was writing, standing on my own, and not dealing with the chaos around me. Turns out, most of the people in my life were toxic. I fear making new friends because of the family turmoil I have dealt with since my dads passing. Thank you because you always start me thinking about reality.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Well, since you asked and I consider this a safe place to be myself…

    As a person with multiple incurable chronic illnesses at the age of 32, I am always Fine. That was always my response when I used to work, before I lost my job to chronic illness, because no one really wanted to hear that I was feeling worse because it might mean I would be calling off for days to weeks at a time again and they would have to grudgingly pick up the slack. That’s always my response when my in-laws ask me because they’re very stoic Wisconsinites who show no emotion. (Not that they don’t care about me, they really do; they’re just not wired to know how to respond to the level of distress I would exhibit if I showed them the truth.) I can be real with my parents, my husband, and my best friend Holly. I’m chronically ill. I’m sick and I’m never going to get better unless the Lord performs a series of miracles worthy of an addendum to the Bible. (“Now listen here, Peter, there’s this girl down there I need to tell you about…” Haha.)

    But sometimes I’m still not real even to those I love. I had a depression relapse on Thursday. I was completely alone all day (husband was at work) and I spent most of the day in a complete meltdown sobbing and screaming. I texted my husband about it so he could do his best to keep me safe from myself, if you catch my drift. But I wouldn’t let Holly come over, even though she dropped everything to do so since she just had a baby. (Don’t worry, she didn’t drop the baby.) I refused to see anybody and I didn’t WANT to see anybody. I haven’t had a day like that in a long time. But as far as anyone interacting with me online knew, I was Fine. I didn’t want people to know because from experience, I know the vast majority of people don’t actually care.

    So yes. I’m Fine. I’m always Fine.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well I care and I really appreciate your honesty in sharing your experiences. I get your point. Most people only care to a certain point but when it starts eating into their own time then they quickly detach. Our default setting is the self. It takes a conscious act of will to be otherwise. You husband and Holly sound great people. I only wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all better for you.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love this so much. Thank you for sharing this. I actually write often about “letting people see our underwear” in this Instagram saturated world. It’s just so beautiful when we share our true struggles – and then it encourages others to do the same. Thank you again – I always love the rawness of your honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I often reply “fine” as a habit since people usually ask the question just to be polite. But if I know someone personally and they have time to follow up on how I’m really doing then I answer truthfully.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can definitely relate on this one. I have actually been forcing myself to avoid “how are you?”, “how’s it going?”, etc. unless I have time to listen to how that person is doing. Otherwise, I stick to other phrases. It’s been a challenge, but it has sort of helped me reevaluate how I use language to communicate with people

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve been trying to fight off a depression the last few days. I had a run in with an ex-flatmate who was really unpleasant to me a few days ago, and I’ve been mulling over it since. I’m more or less keeping to myself at the moment as I’m not the best at masking my feelings. I plan to start working on Durn part 15 shortly and that should get me feeling better. Writing something I’m proud of helps overcome my insecurities.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I’m an independent person and have a really hard time letting anyone enter. I keep things to myself a lot. Mainly, I think, it is part of my introvert personality. I’ve always been the quiet one. Never really speaking my mind. I fight depression daily. I fight anxiety daily. I sit alone a lot. I don’t want to burden anyone with anything. And I don’t want to be told “just get over it”. Or any other negative reactions. So, I dippity-do-da my day away. Until I can be alone once more. Thank you for the question and inviting us to answer. I hope you are having a fantastic weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Letting the mask drop and lancing the boil. Boy, do I relate to that and your post. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. I’ve found that somehow some mornings that mask has been put back on my face and work that day to take it off again. It’s a process and getting better at leaving the mask in the drawer. Hoping to pitch it out with the trash someday soon. Love your blog!

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  8. This is a great post. I love the honesty. Ya’ know, after a rough week of feeling extreme sadness as my youngest moved across the country today I feel very hopeful. I think a lesson learned for me this week, was to let the sadness come when it needed too and to let others support me. Letting the vulnerability, and trust that I could be myself seemed to bring a feeling of peace and hope today.

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  9. How prophetic that you’d write this today.

    My Mom died in November and today is her birthday. How am I feeling? Pretty good with just a smidgen of sadness in the background because I always celebrated her day with her. Like you, I was consumed with all that involved in arranging her burial and managing her estate. It took me months to recover as I’d spent the last eight months of her life caring for her (a role I loved) and now…what? Fortunately, I reached out in May and several people threw me a lifeline. I’m sure the powerhouse that was my mother was somehow involved as she ALWAYS knew when things weren’t right with me and reached out (‘tis a rare thing for me to ask for help), providing just the right scriptures and prayer. She was a woman of tremendous faith.

    So, I’m doing well now. Thanks for asking. You never know who you’ll touch and you most definitely reached me.

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  10. My anxiety was high as I had a 15 mile run to jam in before the start of Pokémon go community day (have to get some shiny Evees). Anyway full of self doubt it would take me four hours. Stupid I did it in 3:05. I was smart and ran indoors on a track because 100% humidity and 90 degrees is brutal and I wasn’t in the mood.
    I went to counseling ten years ago. I was terrified to see who I really was and I found out I’m actually a pretty good person who is super funny. Hard to type that cause I swear I sound conceited. Anyway I figure if you get tired of my comments you’ll block me although I haven’t figured that out on WordPress. Yet. Hahahaha. Have a great day.
    It’s Ok not to be Ok. It’s just not Ok to stay that way. (That’s a sign that hangs off the front of my church).

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  11. Every day, I put on a mask. It’s very tiring. I think we all wear masks because we want to be what we think others expect us to be. Occasionally I take the mask off in a safe environment. Then, feeling all those feelings I’ve been stuffing inside feels like a truck ran over me. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It depends so much on who is asking. If it’s the check out clerk, I think “fine” or whatever positive thing is appropriate. If it’s my husband, or someone I love/trust – I’ll be honest. “I’m feeling anxious about…. I’m frustrated by this thing”

    Learning to get to the roots of why I feel a certain way, as a certain time is… a work in progress. But for today, aside from auditory sensitivity, I’m doing well. And not sure what I want for lunch.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My irritation shows on my face. However, I usually say fine. I hate talking about personal stress because I become teary even thought I really am just pissed or frustrated. I usually keep the true feelings to myself and write them out. Writing and praying has been my raw outlet for years.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The ‘I’m fine’ answer is one I use regularly. This post really struck a chord with me.
    My concern is showing weakness, the fear that drives that is fear of failing. I convince myself that to acknowledge how I really feel would somehow be admitting that I can’t cope.
    The truth? I’m coping. But I’m scared, lonely and frustrated.
    I am not fine.
    But I am here, and I am coping.

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  15. Wow! Thank you for this post, I’m in the process of shedding my masks and at least tolerating myself. I got trapped in the “best mom in the world” syndrome and let my love for writing take the back seat to be a stay at home mom. I have three kids – 6,4,1 and I take care of them 95% of the time.
    I’m fine…ally able to admit I’m resentful, bitter, fat, poor and depressed and that I NEED and WANT to have purpose outside of being a door mat for my kids.
    Here’s to moving forward.

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      1. This is my struggle…. knowing how much is too much when it comes to replying back. I don’t want to not reply because that seems rude and I’m thankful for a reply… but I don’t want to look like a crazy person and fill up a comment thread. Ugh life with anxiety… joy!

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  16. Honesty*

    If I ran into you just by chance, at church, the store, the zoo,
    And you asked me, “How ya doin’?!” I’d say, “Fine, thanks, how are you?”
    But if I ever got the feeling your care for me was real,
    Then I just might surprise you and tell you how I feel.

    * My explanation of what I mean when I refer to “Fine-thanks friends.”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Of course I’m “fine”. Well, at this very minute…. I’m here writing a blog to have a space to be my authentic self, or figure out what that is. I started out thinking I would use a diff name, but instead I’ve not told anyone I know how to find this. It has really helped me to be true to me and what I’m feeling at the time. Thanks for your blog.

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  18. My father died suddenly when I was a self-absorbed, selfish person who had no time to give to her father. I live with shame. My mother died 3 years ago and I long for her, I just long for her every long and wretched day. Katie

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  19. Every day at work when I go to visit families I work with I am Fine Fine Fine because I have to be. When I come home, not so much. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I am unable to hide my emotions well. Even if I say I’m fine my voice, my face, and my extreme level of sarcasm betrays me every time. The people I’m closest with know when to give me space and when to push. When I try to hide my real feelings, it’s truly exhausting. I’ve actually lost friends and relationships due to being “too emotional.”

    I think sometimes I don’t like to share the real deal about what’s going on because honestly it makes people uncomfortable when they can’t just give you a quote, some scripture, or an “I’ll pray for you” and make it all better. We don’t like to sit with people who are depressed for long periods of time because we want them to get better and move on so WE can feel comfortable. Unfortunately for these people depression and anxiety don’t give a crap and continue on as long as they wish even if people leave your life. I know this first hand.

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  20. I never respond with “Fine,” because for me to do so would be, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, an outrageous falsehood. Depending on my current circumstances, I may say, “I’ve been better, but I’ve been worse, too,” or “Horrible. How about you?” (which is understood by the very few who really know me, but has great shock value when I’m dealing with the superficial or insincere, who are then startled into actually making eye contact with me).

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  21. I think we generally say “fine” – out of habit and/or expectation. How am I feeling today? I’m okay . . . but I have days where voluminous black clouds hover over my head and shoulders. Do I share that with others? No. We’re told to be positive and suck up the negativity, put our troubles and woes in God’s hands. Easier said than done sometimes. But, fortunately, I [still] hold hope and faith, so yeah, today I’m okay. And that’s good. 🙂

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  22. I am often putting on a performance, after all who wants to know that their new born baby is tearing you apart inside because you won’t ever have another one? Literally no one. I think in order to think of other people’s feelings we all quite often have to put on a front or no one would ever be able to share good news without feeling guilty and that wouldn’t be right.

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  23. not the most positive thought, but the way i see it, the world is going to eat us up and won’t even notice, so do we really need to care what others think in relation to us? i wear my emotions on my sleeve, and if someone cannot take it, well, maybe one day they will. keep pain inside for a long time would eat us up too, but that may hurt more.

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  24. Now there’s a good question! I think overall I actually am good. But not the kind of good that smiles all day and feels like everything’s fine. I’m the type of “good” that means I know where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Or at least I kind of know where I’m going, LOL. I’m learning that something’s really going on with me… more than I thought. I’m recovering from an abusive marriage – and finally giving words to my story…This whole anxiety and PTSD thing is really coming to the surface, but at least I’m working on it.

    I really like what you wrote about allowing the mask to slip and seeing your real self in the mirror. That’s the work I’m trying to do now. And as you mentioned, writing has been a tremendous help. What’s just as helpful though, is reading posts like this. It’s so helpful to connect with other people who share similar stories.

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  25. So true! I wonder how many people are actually ‘fine’… Does anyone respond to ‘how are you?’ differently? I wish I was better at sharing how I really am but just don’t know how to start! I feel the word ‘fine’ coming out my mouth before my brain has even had time to think…

    Like

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