How are you?

White Lies
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen this. I’ll be talking with one person in recovery who I know is having a very difficult time. A friend of theirs in recovery will walk in on our conversation and ask, “Hey! How are you?” Without a second’s thought or hesitation the response is “Good! How are you?” Inevitably the response follows, “Good!” I know they’re both lying and I know that this is a well played out façade.

At some point, “How are you?” stopped being an actual question in our society and became a greeting. I notice that people rarely respond with any thought or much more than a one word response. People who know me understand that when I ask that question, I’m waiting for an honest answer. Sometimes folks will explain that they’re not doing well but don’t want to share and so when I reject their statement that they’re “good” or “fine” they ask, “Well, what the heck am I supposed to say then?” I’ll point out that they can just as easily tell me that they’re doing lousy but they’d prefer not to talk about it.

An old timer in recovery once asked me how I was doing. When I said, “good” he laughed and said, “You ought to tell your face that.” He was right – my facial expression showed very clearly that I was not doing well. Very often we’re not hiding what we feel as effectively as we think. Worse, we tend to be hiding it from ourselves. Today I offer the words of Dr. Seuss who said, “Be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”