Many memes and many jokes (mostly at men’s expense) have skirted around the fact that if a woman says, “I’m fine”, there is an emotional undertone that means something far beyond being fine. My experience with the phrase ‘I’m fine’ has completely surpassed that, to the point that nobody in my immediate family uses those two words to describe their current state of being.
Both of my parents were alcoholics and suffered through a myriad number of complications through their later years. It is an ugly disease with ugly consequences. The worst part of watching the effects of alcoholism deteriorate a human body is having that person tell you that, while they are suffering numerous symptoms and contrary to every doctor’s diagnosis, they are fine. Fine is no longer a word I use to describe how I feel and for very good reason – it’s bullshit.
I sent a text to a friend yesterday to ask about their well-being and was given the response “I’m okay”. Although it was not the tried and hated response of “I’m fine”, it ranked right up there and it made my Spidey senses tingle. I knew there was more going on but I also knew not to push.
When you get a text message from someone you know on a very personal level, the inflection in their voice is heard loud and clear above the silence of a text message. The only thing I can do is be here when they need to vent, to be present when they realize that I know they are not “fine” or “okay” and just be ready to listen.