Two little words (or three if you’re being fastidious) yet somehow it’s the biggest lie I’ve ever told.
It’s the answer to most questions I’m asked these days and part of me wonders – if I keep saying it long enough will it become true?
At what point after losing someone you love – someone you can never replace – do the words “I’m fine” stop being a lie and finally become reality? A month? Six months? A year?
At this point I find it hard to imagine there ever being a time when I can say the words “I’m fine” without lying. Because it seems that there will always be this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that nothing will ever be quite ‘fine’ again.
Some people have told me not to tell the lie. “When people ask you how you’re doing, just tell them the truth,” they say.
I can picture the conversation now.
“How are you doing?” Someone asks.
“Well…” I reply. “Since you asked…actually…”
And three hours later their face is a fixed grimace of horror, and they swear a vow to never ask me how I’m doing again.
The truth is, it’s not something I can share with people around me. I’m not going to say nobody understands what I’m going through. Because that would be a lie too – I’m not the first person to lose a father far too young and unexpectedly and I won’t be the last. It is true though that we all grieve in our own ways – so the way I’m feeling isn’t something anyone else can quite understand – not fully.
My normal routine for heart-break and sadness is to let it all out on paper. My books are where the “I’m fine” lie ends and the truth pours out. It’s where I lay bare my feelings, and rant against the unfairness of the world.
For some reason this time I’m struggling. The “I’m fine” lie is even translating to the page where I play it safe and stick to the easy parts of what I’m writing. My characters are currently living in happy la-la land populated by unicorns and puppies because I can’t face writing anything real. Yes, I know what people are thinking – I write fantasy filled with knights and dragons and fey folk, none of it is real – but the emotions of my characters, those are real because they come from somewhere inside me, and right now I can’t bring myself to make them feel pain. I’ve got far too much of my own to deal with.
So I guess for now I’ll stick with “I’m fine.” I’ll keep repeating the lie in person and on paper and I guess that one day – without even realising it – I won’t be lying anymore.
One day I will be fine. Well. Fine-ish anyway.