I have thought about writing this post for a long time, but always chose not to. I am afraid it will make me sound like an ungrateful jerk, but as I hear similar things from various people, I have decided to just put it out there. Before I get to the topic at hand, I want to say that all the support everyone has shown for me is humbling and amazing. It has reconnected me with a lot of people and helped me through some extremely difficult times. I go back and reread them now and again and I am always moved. This post is in no way a complaint about any of that, merely an observation about life as I am experiencing it and something that has been raised in conversations. In fact, it was also a topic of conversation with a friend while watching the episode of “Sex and the City”, when Samantha tells everyone she has cancer.
“Everything is going to be OK.” Is such a common things to say when someone goes through a difficult time in life. I have said those words myself to so many people, but only now I have come to realize how they can be both comforting and annoying at the same time. Because the fact is, when it comes to something major, nobody knows if it will be ok. In my case, even the doctors don’t know, and hearing those words is sometimes like fingernails on a blackboard. I apologize to anyone I have said that to when it had that effect on them. It was not my intention. My intention was to be positive, show support and try in some way to offer comfort to someone in a situation I may or may not have understood.
There are two types of people who say those words; People that have gone through the situation or have a lot of knowledge about it and are speaking from a place of experience, and people that mean well, but often do not know what else to say. When people speak from a place of experience or knowledge, the words can still be annoying, but they can back it up with facts or personal details that add weight to the words and don’t immediately trigger the question “How the hell do you know it will be OK?”
When other people say them, people who mean well, but don’t really know what else to say, they can feel hollow and many times, it feels they are saying it more to comfort themselves than the other person as a way of giving themselves hope and a way to deal with what their friend or family member is going through. I know it comes from a good place, but it just doesn’t always feel good to hear.
After all, what does that line “Everything is going to be OK” mean? Does it mean I will make a one-hundred percent recovery? Does it mean I will just learn to deal with it and work around whatever doesn't recover? Does it mean I will wake up one day and not think about it? Does it mean I will use my experience to help others? What exactly determines then something is “OK” and how do we know we will ever get there? I don’t know at all what it means for me. Sure, I am OK, compared to four months ago, but not OK compared to five months ago. Hearing “Everything is going to be OK” doesn’t usually make people who are in the challenging situation feel OK at all.
While watching “Sex and the City”, my friend asked me what someone should say in that situation. He told me a friend of his just told him she has breast cancer and he asked what to say. I told him not to tell her it would all be ok, but instead to tell her that he was there for her. That is what I want to hear. I am very aware that things might not ever be OK, but if I have my friends and family around me, I know I can deal with it. I want to know someone will be there for the victories and the failures. I want to be cheered when something goes great and helped along when I can’t do it on my own. I want someone to make me laugh and help me forget just for a few seconds and I want someone to hold me and let me cry. Sometimes, it is enough just to have someone near, even if they are reading a book or watching a movie, just knowing they are there, really there. So while telling someone that things will get better can help, letting someone know you are there whenever they need, helps so much more. Sometimes, just knowing someone is there makes everything OK.
Thank you all for being there for me. It means more than I can say.