The two little words I’m Fine are often deceiving. Are you fine? Are you merely saying that because you feel that no one wants to hear your problems? No one wants to shoulder the burden of your sorrows? No one will understand? It’s possible. But I can tell you with certainty that there are many incredible souls out there that will listen, will help, will take action, and will truly care. It’s learning to deconstruct the barriers that we place upon ourselves, to allow someone in that will make the difference between acceptance and forgiveness or isolation and fear.
When I was a teenager I was living in a broken home; my relationship with my parents was difficult and strained. They were focused on their marital issues, and because of that I felt forgotten, isolated, and alone. It was a very dark time in my youth. But, I was “Fine”. And it wasn’t until I went to my Family Doctor for a check-up that I crumbled. It was the first time I was meeting this new doctor of mine. He sat down at his desk in the examining room, opened my chart, looked up at me and asked “How are you?” I began to talk about why I was there, but then he stopped me. He placed his hand over mine, leaned in close to me, and said, “No. How are you, really?” I will never forget the impact that small gesture had on me. The facade that I had created, the mask that I was wearing, crumbled in that moment. I poured my heart out to my Doctor, this person I had just met, who patiently sat and listened. His small gesture granted me the release of all the emotions that I had been hiding for 15 months – stress, pressure, angst, fear, loneliness, and anger. And because of that moment, I was able to acknowledge the impact my parents’ separation and pending reconciliation was having on me, and begin my own process of healing. That moment – his kindness – taught me a life-long lesson that I still carry close to my heart: It’s okay to admit when you are “Not Fine”.
The ability to acknowledge and accept what life tosses your way is an incredible strength to acquire. It takes courage to face the hurdles, faith to tackle them, and acceptance to forgive the circumstances. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I felt scared. I was scared for my life, and scared for my family. I did not want to take them on this dark journey with me. I wanted to protect them and keep them safe from the fear and uncertainty that cancer evokes. But they were the ones who wanted to protect me. And so the very moment when I admitted that I was “Not Fine” my family – my entire family – rallied together. And then friends, acquaintances, and even strangers came out of the shadows to help in any way they could. They enveloped me and my family in their kindnesses, and helped to shoulder the burden that I (and inevitably my family) was enduring. I am still overwhelmed by this amazing act of selflessness by so many. It’s a remarkable example of the human spirit and the love we all share for each other. And I’m so grateful to have witnessed this movement and been blessed by it.
Having cancer has changed me. It has altered my perception and strengthened my faith; and although I may be a little beaten and bruised with pieces of me missing, I have survived. I overcame the barriers, and in many ways I have become stronger and feistier. But I was not alone. I was not alone because I admitted that I was Not Fine. You see, cancer can isolate you. You experience a level of fear that is incomprehensible and difficult to express. Many suffer through the diagnosis silently, and many more do not admit the full extent of the pain, sorrow, and angst that they are enduring. But to all of you, whether it is cancer that you are battling, or whatever it is you are going through, please take courage. Admit when you are Not Fine. Because, by admitting that you are Not Fine you are then allowing yourself to heal. You are giving yourself the ability to accept what you are going through and the opportunity to heal from it. And I promise that there will be someone who will help you along the way. They just need your invitation. They are there, waiting patiently in the background, unobtrusive and concerned. Have faith in yourself and in the human spirit. And if you do, if you take that first step toward healing, you really will be Fine.
I’m Fine. Published by Crystal Joy Hall