This is from one of my angrier, darker days. During a day of intense frustration and unequivocable loneliness. It's not especially a proud moment but a truthful one at least in regard to such a day.
What do you say when someone asks you how you are? Because except for the rare occasion, they're usually just being polite. Feigning interest or concern. Sometimes just making small talk, filling the void. So what do you say? What's the "polite" response that will discourage further probing or awkward silence or deep concern for your sanity?
Sometimes, for once, I'd like to just come straight out with the truth. Just to see some mo' fo' fall. the. freak. out.
Unassuming Stranger: "Hello. How are you today?"
Me: "I'm at the point where ripping off my skin seems like a viable option."
Friendly Acquaintance: "Hey! What's goin' on?"
Me: "Well, right now, I'm wondering if it would be possible to kick you in the nuts so hard that you actually blacked out."
People Who Know You Best: "That's great, but I really wanted to know how YOU are."
Me: "Well, mostly I'm kind of dead inside. Every morning, I wake up, cut away all emotion, and attack each and every task in front of me with a robot-like attention because if I, for even one second, let myself feel, I will suffocate. I will be unable to draw even the slightest breath. And then a flood of anger -- anger at healthcare, at shitty diseases yet to be cured, at God, the world, at you and your feeble attempts -- will rise within me beyond my control, pushing me to points where the fine line of sane reasoning wavers before me and threatens to break me wide open, beyond repair. In truth, I am best when you don't even ask how I am because I literally have no idea. Other than the fact that I am alive. I am breathing. And those are the only two things I am happy about today."
But I don't. I don't ever respond this way. Even with the people who genuinely are interested in my truest feelings. I give them the "okay", or the "fine", or if I really want to jack with them, "never better". And except for those 5 or 6 people who know me best, it's enough. No further investigation needed.
I have always been the Queen of Apologizing for Shit That's Not My Fault, but I also hold the title of Empress of Sparing You the Truth.
Not because I'm polite. Not because I'm socially graceful. Not even because I'm afraid you'll think I've gone off the deep end because somedays, I've got the Deep End plugged into the GPS, and I'm simply calculating at what point to start pumping the brakes.
No, it's none of those things. It's because I can't stand the look on your face when I tell the truth. How your face goes blank and your eyes go vacant. Because I can't take the shame that you feel. Because your hurt begins to hurt me. Because I'm not sure where the truth will send you. Because I know it will send you to all those places I cannot reach. It's not about my being a Truth Teller, it's about being a Pain Avoider. And so I spare you as many gory details that there are. I lock the demons away, put on my smile, and make my face calm before I tell you how I am.