14 June, 2011

it is...

I’m fine….

I grew up with these words.

Everything is “fine.”

It occurred to me, after hearing them for the millionth time a few days ago, that why does it have to be “fine?”

Things aren’t always fine.  Sometimes they are less than fine.  Sometimes they are so beyond fine that there is no word to describe them. 

As my daughter and I stood, both in tears, on Saturday, I heard her say her own “It’s fine” in the form of “It’s okay.”

I turned to her and said, no, it isn’t okay… it just is.  It hurts and it is hard and it is challenging… and it isn’t not okay and it isn’t okay, it just is. 

Somewhere in the past few weeks I have started to wonder if we use words like okay and fine to remove ourselves from the feelings that we are experience. 

Sure, it will work out and things will be “okay” or “fine” if we want to use those words… but why not just say that right now, at this moment, I feel…?

While I stood there with my daughter, she felt frustrated; I felt frustrated; she felt let down and sad; and I felt sorrow  and a sense of complete helplessness… and that was how we felt.  Those feelings are okay; they are just as real as everything else around us at that moment… and to gloss over them or not allow them; to hide them behind words like fine or okay…

They are what they are

It is what it is

I have had years of experience using logic to attempt to understand my emotional response.  Applying rationale and empathy or compassion are wonderful tools that I have employed to deal with them.  My guess is that I am not alone in this.  One of my dearest friends is a master at it as well.  We explain away the feelings which is not exactly denying them but it isn’t exactly allowing and accepting them either.

And I caught myself doing the same with my daughter – helping her rationalize and use logic to come to terms with a situation over allowing her to feel the emotions and sit with them. 

We are learning; I am learning.  Life is a work in progress. 

It is what it is – the feelings the mental gymnastics, the attempts to figure it all out and to have answers or create them when we don’t.  It is learning and learning and learning again to sit and “be” over doing everything possible to fill our lives with “doing.”



BigLittleWolf said...

The "I'm fine" mantra. It has so many guises - some helpful, and others in their automatic fashion, serving only to hide our realities from others. To dismiss opportunities that we may not afford ourselves.

"I'm fine" unleashes so many thoughts, TE. But yes, self-soothing and as self-prophesy, we can come to use these words to find some measure of peaceful "being."

Belinda said...

Such an insightful post. I find myself saying "I'm fine" if the state in question is my physicality, say, if I bump into something hard. If it's about my emotions, I tend to say, "I'll be fine." There's a hopefulness to this that quietly acknowledges that "I'm not fine now" but "I'll eventually be".

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi TE .. since I picked up on this phrase "I'm fine" .. which we all use all the time .. I realise it's a platitude by me .. saying it'd be great if you could actually put yourself in my shoes for a few minutes and empathise .. but people don't ...

... they can't realise that even by gently agreeing, offering a few words of comfort and consideration - would help make me feel they're in 'my camp' and understand a little.

I'm fine - can be a plea for a little understanding ..

I love your thoughts ... thanks for posting on it .. I hope you both have a lovely weekend .. Hilary

MrFancyPants said...

Yes. I remember trying to comfort my mother as my father lay dying, and several times I wanted to say "everything will be okay" or "it will be just fine", and I had to catch myself because---well because it wasn't going to be.

We insulate ourselves with these words. But painful things happen. It's okay that things aren't fine.. because that's how they just are sometimes. I think Belinda is correct, though: eventually you are better.

MrFancyPants said...

That took me a long time to learn: that it's okay to feel something. It's okay to not be fine. "You feel the way you feel", someone once told me, "what matters is how you act upon that".

I hope that you're well, Exception!

Aileen said...

I agree - it does seem like we "use words like okay and fine to remove ourselves from the feelings that we are experience." - or rationalize out of the raw emotions.

I had the habit of saying things like "okay" and "fine" to not make someone else (who was listening) feel uncomfortable.

It is empowering and valuable to really own our emotions and be be true to what we feel.

I sincerely hope this new month of July brings you and your daughter amazing blessings.

cathouse teri said...

I only say "I'm fine" if I either don't think you really want to know how I am or if I don't feel like talking about it.

Sara said...


You make an excellent point. We do over use the phrases like, Everything's fine or I'm fine or You'll be fine.

I think part of the reason we do this is our discomfort with letting a painful moment sit. I know I struggle with this.

Still, it's such a hard habit to break. I just did with own daughter recently during a crisis. You've given me something to think about:~)