After opening up, what next?
“You will be fine.”
To be honest, I think that sentence has lost its taste, at this point. It feels like an automated response. It’s almost like the “Thank you” message that pops up when you’re done using the ATM. Somehow, in the process of trying, the sentence lost its savor. If you confide in a friend and you close your eyes for a minute, by the time you open it, I’m willing to bet a “you will be fine” message will be waiting for you as a response from the friend.
Another word that’s on the verge of losing its savor. It’s common knowledge to open up to friends about our trying moments and there are times when I feel like my emotional state is beaten, troubled, and bordering on depression. Amid all these feelings, I often find myself with the inability to point to the exact reason that might have caused them. On the days when I can, I slide it into a conversation with a friend. I start with a self-deprecating sentence, hoping they would ask me what I meant— they would. At the sight of a shoulder that’s asking my head to come to rest on it, I proceed to tell them how I feel, and how drained I am. Then, they reply with mutual feelings:
“Babe, I can imagine”
“I’m also tired”
At that point, I sigh, always, like a grieving widow. Because I know what direction the conversation is headed, and I wonder if there was any need to talk about it in the first place.
“You’ll be fine sha”
Yes dear, thank you. I will be fine.
The end. I got proven right. Again.
I only wanted my feelings to be understood and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for. When I think about why I decided to confide in the friend, I realize it was with hopes that somehow — in a way that I, myself, do not know— I would be comforted. But not with the popular comfort words with little to no savor in their essence. In other words, I didn’t want to be comforted with clichés like;
“It’ll get better”
“I’m sorry you feel that way”
and the worst of all
“Just be happy”
I crave something different. I crave words of comfort that will be said with deep regard about how I’m feeling. I want to be understood. But I always get “you will be fine.” Still, there is a big part of me that knows how difficult it is to be human, how difficult it is to confront trials and tribulations. I know how draining confrontations can be especially when it’s inward. Maybe afterward, there’s little energy to console others.
I pretend to lend my shoulder to friends too. They tell me about their pain and I find myself in uncomfortable shoes that I’m certain my friends were in. I can’t console my friends in the ways I know they desire. I want to but I can’t and I don’t want to use the sentence I find repulsive. I don’t want to throw words that are bare of feelings at them and I hate my helplessness. I hate that when they bare their feelings to me, I struggle to soothe them with words. The clichés come easily but I discard them because I tell myself my friends deserve better. What to do though? I can’t reach into my friends’ bodies and calm their troubled hearts, even if that’s what I’d love to do. Neither can I go visit them to comfort them with my presence because we’re scattered across different locations?
All I have are words.
Words they’ve heard as much as I have. Words that I know they need to hear, but would rather not hear. Words that don’t have helpful effects on the feeling of helplessness. But all we have in situations like the ones I constantly find myself in (either when I’m consoled or when I’m consoling) in which we can’t help are our words. Maybe “you will be fine” became the default consolation sentence because there’s nothing else we can say except hope that, truly, they would be fine. After all, the peace we all desire, in other word, is ‘fine’. We want to be fine. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to say. An extension of our needs but why does it not help?
As I said, I crave something different from the usual, even when I know that most times, I won’t get it. I don’t know precisely what it is I want to hear, but I know that deep within me, hearing “you’ll be fine” and other supposedly comforting sentences adds to my emotional fatigue more than it helps.
But, hey, what else can be said?