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We Don’t Always Have to Say We’re Fine — and That’s Fine

Heavy emotions are isolating — we don’t know how to deal with palpable sadness hanging off a person we love, we can’t handle the anguish layered over their familiar features. We’re afraid to be vulnerable, because it might mean rejection.

We’ve been spoon-fed since infancy this lie that the only acceptable face we can show is a happy one. Beneath the shiny smiles we’ve perfected and are too scared to put away, our upside-down bones groan in protest at being locked away yet again.

But what if we didn’t imprison our frowns or throw our pain into solitary confinement? What if we could just let our grief out on a day pass?

The poet Muriel Rukeyser once said, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” But I think that’s how it works for all of us.

If you ask me how I am, and I told you the truth of my life in this moment, the world we’ve created in a desperate effort to not acknowledge this sh*tty human birthright of suffering would break open, split under our feet, cave in and fall into the sea. If I ask you how you are, and you tell me the truth of your life in this moment, the trees would tear their roots from the ground, rivers would flow backwards, stars would flare and wink out of existence in the space of a single breath.

It’s a wonderfully simple truth hiding in plain view, which is that we don’t always have to be OK, because we’re magnificent even when we’re broken. Maybe even especially when we’re broken. The cracks are how the light gets in, right?

Honesty is a powerful spell. Truth-telling is magic. Think of the new worlds we could call into being if we simply allowed ourselves to sit in silence and grow comfortable in our own pain, and in the pain of others.

Let’s just be real, for ourselves and for each other. Let’s stop pretending we’re doing OK when we’re not. Let’s be sad, or angry, or heartbroken. Let’s be bitter and ugly, flipping tables and punching walls. Let’s stop holding back the oceans of tears right behind our eyes.

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Let’s take every moment as it comes, strip off our pretense and skinny dip in authenticity. Let’s admit that sometimes life is really f*cking unfair, that there are mountains and there are valleys, and that control over any of it is mostly an illusion. Letting go of what we’ve always known is terrifying, but remember that flying feels an awful lot like falling at first.

So, no. I’m not OK today, but thanks for asking. How are you?

This guest article originally appeared on No, I’m Not Okay, But Thanks For Asking.

We Don’t Always Have to Say We’re Fine — and That’s Fine

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APA Reference
Guest Author, P. (2018). We Don’t Always Have to Say We’re Fine — and That’s Fine. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 21 Aug 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.