in which, for just a moment, I get real



I’ve had a good amount of people ask me how I’m doing, lately. It’s a pretty common question-  we say it in some form to just about everyone we see, every day. I have a policy about lying, even little lies; I’ll evade like mad, and I’m an old pro at diversions, but I don’t like to lie. That turns this average, simple question into a real stumper most days. I know that it’s all form- that very few people are really asking how things are. It’s an opening gambit, not an invitation to get into the real muck of one’s daily life. I know that. But saying, oh, I’m fine, or worse, we’re great– it sticks in my mouth, every time, because it’s a lie.

I mostly choose diversion. When confronted with the question, I’ll bypass it altogether and go straight to weather. It sounds something like this- Q: “Hi! How are you?A-“It’s another beautiful day.” “Happy to be here,” is also a good answer, but that only works if I am somewhere, and never on the phone. It is a lot less awkward in real life than it reads on the page, but it still makes me feel horribly socially stunted. I have a horror of over- disclosure (she says in her BLOG, I know, the irony) and I’m convinced that I’ll just blurt out the truth if I’m not hyper-vigilant.

Which is funny, really, because I have the hardest damned time telling anyone. I’ve tried to rely on the blog to do the dirty work for me, but I’m well aware it’s a coward’s way out.  I’ve had several phone conversations where I just chicken out- I can feel it happening, like a slow- motion fall from my intentions into mediocre small talk. So if I’ve called you recently and the conversation was shapeless, rambling and insufferably inane, I’m sorry.  I still haven’t managed to tell my daughter, despite having decided I’d do so six days ago; I just freeze up inside at the idea.

The real answer to how I’m doing is that I am doing. That’s it, just doing. I press forward, because motion makes me feel like everything is still humming along, unchanged. I have some rough days- days when nothing I write or type comes out right, when the words just don’t come, when my hands fail me, when I feel shaky and unsteady, when I am confused and lost, when my head just pounds, when I pretty much live in bed and wait for it to pass. More often, though, I have days where it’s all so minor- just a memory of the bad days, really- that I can pretend it’s not really happening until I have to stop and take a pill.

I still don’t know what this means- if it means anything– to me. I don’t know how I feel about any of it. I know I can’t stick my head in the sand and make it all go away- as comforting as that might be. I know I have to get proactive- run more, eat better, sleep right, make good choices- and I know I need to start that right now, although I’m having problems getting started. Tomorrow, I think, every day.

I am trying to ground myself in the small moments of my life- because that really is all that there is, the small moments one after another- instead of getting mired in the scary unknowns of the bigger picture. I fail, but I keep trying. That’s the one thing I’ve ever truly excelled at, really: trying.

(Today's post brought to you by Samuel Beckett, the genius behind one of my favorite quotes: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.")

  One thought on “in which, for just a moment, I get real

  1. mel
    September 25, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Try to be kind to yourself and take the time and space you need, you would offer the same lovingly to a friend and it makes perfect sense that you need it yourself. People will be patient, do what you need to do. I so wish that I had some words of real comfort here. Warm thoughts… xo, mel

  2. September 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Thank you, Mel. I’m trying to learn to slow down and take care of myself, although honestly, I’m the worst patient- even when I’m the one trying to help myself. 🙂

  3. September 25, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Sending well thoughts your way. I find fall are very unstable time made all the more surreal by the beautiful weather.

  4. September 25, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Misa, thank you. Really, if this had to happen, at least it happened in autumn- the most comforting season of them all.

  5. Gracie
    September 27, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Sarah, I’ve tried to leave comments a couple of times but it’s very hard because you are articulating so well the thoughts I had nearly 11 years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, a time I thought I’d put behind me. Even though I understand to some extent what you’re going through, on another level I’m well aware that no one else can truly understand what you are experiencing. Thanks for your courage in writing about this.

  6. September 29, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Thank you, Gracie.

  7. September 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I should know you. Do I?

  8. September 30, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Not yet, I don’t think. 🙂 Hi!

  9. Mia
    September 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Everyone has good days and bad days. You just need to learn to slow down and take care of yourself first. And you know that you have friends who are there to help out in what ever way we can. I mean I would gladly cook you dinner and bring it and drop it off. So will Corrine and everyone else.

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