A few weeks ago I was struck down with bronchitis seemingly overnight. It was one of those times when I couldn’t ignore feeling sick for a few weeks and immediately went to the doctor the next day. I’m not sure if that is something that I inherited (you never get diagnosed with anything if you don’t go to the doctor) or if it is my hypochondriacal nature to avoid finding out if my self diagnosed symptoms were accurate.
I muddled through my day, popping out for the quick doctor visit and continued to work for the rest of the day. Now, let me point out at this time that I was very, very sick. I had to get a breathing treatment during my appointment and was prescribed multiple medications, including an inhaler. As the day went on and I walked the halls and people popped into my office for different reasons everyone asked with the usual nicety, “How are you?”
Hi. My name is Katie. I don’t like to share. This is not stemming from anything other than the fact that I do not believe that I am very interesting and such have nothing to offer. I find it very difficult to open up about really anything and once I find folks that I do open up to, I never stop. And over share. Lauren can attest to this. So I spent the greater part of my day feeling like death warmed over repeating, “I’m great!” I was lying. And it got me to thinking.
Why do we feel like we cannot tell people the truth? I lied. To everyone. All day. A few weeks ago, I was with my friend Stacey who is both a wonderful person and an amazing stylist. Sometimes, when I spend hours with her getting my hair done I feel as though I have spent quality time in a Buddhist temple in Tibet. Relaxed, invigorated and incredibly self reflective. (Also, beautiful. She is great at her job.) I have never done that before but I can imagine that is how you feel. During my last appointment, we discussed making a “What not to do” list. We talked at length about being a woman, a mom and how we often feel so overwhelmed and we reach a breaking point. Stacey said the whole point of making this list to be able to reach out and say, “I cannot do this. I need help.” We don’t have to do it all ourselves. I am guilty of taking on too much and feeling resentful. And then I feel guilty. And then I feel exhausted. Luckily, my husband and I have gotten to a point in our marriage where we share the equal burdens of everyday life. I know most of you are thinking “BS” and thank you for calling me on that. While we have shared roles, we also have separate roles for which we help the other succeed. I’m not going to lie. There are disagreements. And eye rolling accompanied by HEAVY sighs. But he has learned to ignore me when I get to that point. The husband doesn’t remember certain things that need to be done, schedules that need to be kept or sometimes, for that matter, which night is trash night. We will not mention all the things that he manages to help me get through. We would be here for days. But over the past year, I have spoken up and told him I need help. His response is usually “thank you for telling me! I’m happy to do that.”
Which leads me back to the beginning. Why don’t we feel we can open up to people? Trust – I know those people that you don’t want to ask how they are doing because they will tell you EVERYTHING. In great detail. But, you know, sometimes you need to let go and tell someone. I spend my time with some really great people every single day. I like them. I like to think they like me. I ask because I care; why do I assume they don’t ask because they care? Is it because we think people will see us as human? Unqualified? Vulnerable? There is this fear that as a woman, you have to do it all and if you cannot then you can’t possibly be good at your job or your life. I am surrounded by young women every day and we encourage them to have a voice and that they can have it all yet we deny ourselves the right to say “today I don’t feel well.”
My goal for this week is to be honest when someone asks me about myself. Most likely I will not divulge everything that is going on in my world today. But I will tell them how I am doing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you do the same thing?