How are you doing? An invitation to practice and open graciously into the present moment….
How are you doing?
This is a common question to ask a family member, a friend, a colleague… sometimes asked as a mindless social habit and sometimes asked out genuine concern and curiosity.
What’s the big deal, you may wonder?
I see myself dreading this common question during this time in life of medical issues and recovery from mold illness and vaccine reaction and SIBO and malnutrition …
For someone with a chronic illness, fatigue or medical situations, the question can feel complicated…. It can cause stress.
When asked this question, I sometimes feel tightness in my stomach and diaphragm and hold my breath … the inner reflection and dialogue begins…
How do I really feel right now?
Avoidance is here. I’d rather not check in because I don’t want to feel into the exhaustion.
Then the negotiating, okay maybe I can for just a bit…
Then the filtering, if I feel terrible can I honestly share with this person? Can they hold the pain, confusion and truth of what I have to say without making it a problem or issue? Or is it best to be polite and be brief in my answer? I recognize their kindness. I don’t want to experience pity. Maybe I’m being judgmental of them assuming they will reply that way. If I am honest, maybe they’ll be supportive and loving. I could really use that right now. If I feel great, will they expect me to do something or be more than I can be right now?
This becomes a loaded question for those who are experiencing illness and fatigue…
Sometimes I reply, “I am okay enough right now…” because I am.
Sometimes I am honest and really feel I can open sharing the challenge of what’s there….
“I’m feeling stressed, because the last time I took a 4 minute shower, I get so exhausted after I need to lay down and rest, but I really need to wash my body….”
“I’m happy I just read a few pages of my book and can remember what I read.”
Sometimes I don’t answer directly and completely change the subject, commenting on something beautiful, “It was a super sunny day, grateful to see the sun….”
Is my answer truthful? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Is it the right time?
Sometimes truth is hard to hear and sometimes it is hard not to fall into my own self pity for the difficulty in illness. Sometimes it is necessary to be honest or to protect myself by staying brief in reply. Sometimes it is kind to myself and others to realize I don’t owe anyone any particular answer, and it’s kind to not self filter. Sometimes it is kind to another to be simple with words. Sometimes the right time is now and sometimes not at all.
I have come to realize I don’t owe anyone any particular answer. It’s not my job to make others feel okay about the illness I’m experiencing. It is not my job to care for their discomfort if I answer with the honest answer. And yet I don’t want to cause harm.
I’m grateful people care enough to ask and give myself permission to not answer the text or email immediately or at all if I am not up to it.
I invite myself to open into the desire to avoid asking myself the questions and into the defeat when it’s another day of “the body is off today or sadness is here… “
I invite myself into the possibility of recalling something beautiful when someone cares enough to ask…
I invite in the sweetness of being acknowledged and dropping any unnecessary stories …
Answering “How are you doing?” is an invitation to open into loving the present moment…. and it’s complicated.
Please don’t stop asking, but know it is not so easy for some experiencing illness to answer. And if you ask, be prepared to receive a variety of replies.
What is someone who wants to be supportive to do? Asking, “Do you want to talk about how you’re doing today? I’d love to know.” feels more spacious and open for the one experiencing illness. Or a simple “Thinking of you and how you’re doing, no expectation to answer” feels loving. Acknowledging you are aware it is complicated to answer also opens the door of communication, it is a gift of kindness.
I’d love to hear from others who have gone through illness and how they experience this question…
Thanks for caring, considering & continuing to ask. 💕