"I'll be fine," said one woman after another. But, will they? Will we?
"I'll be fine," she said. But she wasn't really fine. She'd learned to squash, hide, deny her feelings because expressing how she really felt wasn't safe.
So, she became the good girl who said, "I'll be fine" so she could maintain her good girl persona. She received loved when she was a good girl, so she didn't tell you, "Actually, I'm f*cking angry." Instead, she just hid how she felt so you wouldn't stop loving her.
The girl who learned to say, "I'll be fine", when she had sh*t to say became the woman who learned to hide in plain sight. She'd hide beneath or behind anything she could find. She'd be hiding right in front of you and you wouldn't even know it. She became brilliant at hiding. Hiding how she was feeling was her specialty.
The tough girl, though she appears different, is just reacting differently to the same circumstance. The woman you see today who says, "I'll be fine" in such a way that you dare not challenge her was once a vulnerable young girl who so wanted to be able to speak how she felt. But it was not safe. It was never safe. So she grew a bold exterior. She grew, what we call "thick skin" and now people are too afraid to ask her how she really feels.
Meanwhile, the rebel who said she didn't give a shit, who was so ready to prove how "totally fine" she was--through her hair, tattoos and piercings--is anything but fine. The loudness, the brashness, the rebellious nature itself says, "if I can't tell you with my words that I'm angry, then let me express myself another way". She too, the precious girl that once was, also wanted to say "I'm anything but fine," but was anyone willing to really listen to her pain?
Then there was she who felt so vulnerable around others, the people who stopped her from expressing how she felt, that she had to create a distraction. She went to extravagalent lengths to hide right in front of you, distract you with dark make up, that really belied her true emotions that were locked up in her throat, unable to escape.
The girl who learned, early on, that she had to be perfect became the woman who wouldn't leave the house without looking like she had it altogether, all the time, every time. She was so polished, so perfect, so practised at saying the phrase, "I'll be fine," at any kind of incident that you'd easily believe her. She was so convincing with her steady gaze, her charasmatic smile, her endlessly practised poker face. But inside she was slowly dying. She stopped believing, long ago, that she could actually tell anyone the truth about how she was really feeling. There was just no time or space for that.
As we circle the globe we find yet another woman who has been forced to say the lie, "I'll be fine". Once a little girl who carried this coping mechanism into adulthood, she decided it was easier to spend time alone with her feelings than try to find anyone else safe to share them with. Instead, she shares them with the land she walks on, the trees she meets and any bird or bee who will listen.
Of course, there was also the girl who hid behind studying, because that was safer than interacting with other humans. She knows she'll be fine as long as she stays buried deep within her studies focused totally on learning and thinking, not actually feeling her many, valid, human feelings.
And then we found the girl who became such a powerful woman that no-one would even think about touching her. She was so powerful, in fact, that few would be brave enough to even speak to her in such a personal, intimate way to ask if she was okay. And even if they did--and even if she was being torn apart by a huge and heavy emotion--she wouldn't dream of admitting it out loud to anyone in the general public.
Finally, in a completely different part of town we found a woman who epitomises the last (necessary) coping mechanism. Before she lifted weights and got covered in tatts, she was once a little girl who wanted to be hugged, and held, and soothed when she was crying. But nobody came when she cried. And since people kept hurting her and she was anything but "fine" she did what she had to do: she became a scary, bad-ass that no-one was game to go near.
Of course, under every version of every mask is a woman who is not fine. She's been abused, neglected, hurt. She's been used, dismissed, walked over. She's been humiliated, ignored, minimised. And she is not fine.
She might be hiding, struggling to continue to repress how she's feeling any longer.
She might drowning, lost in a pool of every heavy emotion she's never been able to express.
She may well be crying herself to sleep, feeling so totally alone with everything she's experienced.
But what do you do with the months and years and decades of pain already living inside of her?
As bravely as you can.
As intently as you can.
You show her that you care.
And then, maybe, she will begin to heal and tell you how she really feels.
This post was prompted by @ mariannewest's post last Thursday and fueled by recent world events. If you want to try your hand at some creative free writing then check it out! There are endless things you can do with a prompt. Don't do it my way, find your way!