I say this a lot. This, and “I’m fine.”
I’m often lying when I say this. It’s not a passive-aggressive bid to get people to pester me into telling them what’s wrong, just so it can be proven they care about me. I know they care about me. When I say “I’m fine” or “Nothing’s wrong” and something is wrong, and I’m not fine…I’m really saying “I’m not ready to talk about it.”
Either with the specific person I’m talking to, or with anyone, or on the blog — in public. Sometimes this means I journal about it privately, on my Dreamwidth or LJ. Then, of course, people in my specific access filters can see it, but I’m not posting it there for them. I’m posting it there for me to work through it myself.
Sometimes I just sit with it, quietly, and don’t write it down or talk about it until I’m truly ready.
To be clear, I really hate passive-aggressive behaviour. I’ve been trained into it by a world that devalues aggression from people socially classed as women, but I fight hard against it. It’s an easy path to take whatever society has trained into you. An easy path worn smooth by generations before you.
So, trust me when I say I am not being passive-aggressive, trying to manipulate you into proving you care about me, when I say “I’m fine” or “Nothing’s wrong.” It’s just my short-form way of saying “I’m not ready to talk about it.”
With the Ogre, I’ve had to train myself to state, clearly, that I’m not ready to talk about it. Or that there is something wrong, but it’s nothing to do with him, so he can stop worrying. Otherwise he will keep asking.
With the rest of the world, I continue to say I’m fine or Nothing’s wrong. Because, unlike the Ogre, most people don’t respect it when I say “I’m not ready to talk about it right now.” They try to force me to talk about something I’m not ready to speak about. “Talking helps!” Yes, it does. That’s why I’ll talk about it at my own pace. Not yours.
People need to feel like they can help. We hate feeling useless in the face of pain or suffering. We need to do something.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Sometimes support means a whole bunch of “Don’t just DO something, STAND THERE.” That’s a hard truth to swallow. It’s easier on everyone if I just pretend everything is alright; they don’t feel obligated to force me to accept help I don’t want nor need at the moment, and I don’t have to fight off a flurry of well-meaning torture as they try to get me to talk about something I need to avoid.
Everything is alright.
I’ll talk to you when I’m ready.