Friday, April 23, 2010

Sweet Little Lies

"How are you?"

Such a loaded question.

I've made it my habit to lie when asked how I am. I say "fine", or "fabulous" if I'm feeling sassy. I don't like lying, even if it is a white-ish lie, and not meant to hurt anyone. I like honesty. I think it's important to know the truth in life, even if it's awful. But, I don't always want to be the harbinger of doom and gloom, so with the oh-so-innocent "how are you?" I try to keep it light.

If I am honest, it's still usually a kind of twisted-positive, something like, "I don't feel like killing myself today and it's awesome!" Which, I could probably work on my phrasing with that one, but it really gets the point across, for the four people I dare say it to.

I recently spoke to a woman I've known since I was a kid. She has struggled with chronic pain for longer than I have been alive, so from the beginning of my ordeal I've always been dead honest with her. She asked how I was and I responded without thinking, "Well, my migraines are the same, maybe worse in some ways, but I'm learning to cope with it better!"

It felt so good to be able to say that unselfconsciously. I had no idea how much this was weighing on me. I am not fine, and apparently saying so constantly, through gritted teeth and a painted smile, has been wearing me down and making every interaction feel like a big stressful performance.

But there are some very good reasons to lie. Some old high school friends that I haven't communicated with in 15 years found me on facebook and it immediately started with the "What have you been up to?" and "What are you doing for a living?" thing. If I answer honestly, it inevitably becomes the focus of the conversation because how can you not quiz someone who has a migraine all the time? I get it. It's unusual and therefore fascinating or subject to disbelief. But I don't have the energy to explain myself to everyone on facebook. I was a very social person, in my former life. I never thought that would come back to haunt me. So, I've taken to ignoring the question altogether, saying something funny about my dog, naming all of my hobbies, or saying that I am unemployed, "like half of America".

Besides avoiding the awkwardness and spoon draining explanations, lying also protects me from being the subject of gossip. I know how people are. It'll be, "Did you hear about steph?" and "She's got some crazy migraine thing going on," neither of which are terrible things to say, I just really hate the idea of people feeling sorry for me, or people I haven't told about my migraines asking about them.

My pain is personal, and I don't share it freely.


4 comments:

Migrainista said...

Oh Steph I know what you mean! Most of the time it is just what we need to do. And the pretending is absolutely exhausting!! Well said.

shalunya said...

Steph,
I understand completely what you are speaking about. Even with people that we know well, we either seem like we are complaining all the time because we answer that question truthfully or we stuff the truth down our craw and lie. Unfortunately, it's a no win situation which is why I am thankful for forums like chronic babe where I can speak the truth. I am here any time you need to speak freely!! :)

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I know how you feel [in more ways than one!] I just say - having a good day or having a bad day when asked by those in the know. They can read into that what they want!!!

Mo said...

I have one answer I give people...I'm OK today. If I'm out and about this is what they get. And I really wonder if they really want to know, or are they just trying to be polite?
maureen