On Communicating in Difficult Times

I remember vividly a period of time, when I was very much broken hearted – even shattered, and one of my close friends kept asking me this “how are you” question.
It’s not easy to answer a “how are you” question when you’re not very sure on how you are. Especially if the questions are asked by people who supposed to know you well. For those strangers, it’s easy to say, “I’m OK, thank you.” You don’t have any obligation to tell them the truth, or they just don’t care, or you know it’s just one of those courtesy question. Or sometimes it will be in opposite condition, you’ll be so easy to tell them the truth, because… you know they just don’t care, or they won’t judge you, or you won’t meet them again, or… you just feel safe because perhaps it’s just the only time you’ll talk with them.
But for those who are labelled as “friends”, I personally find it’s hard to answer this question when it comes to hard times.
I had a difficult time in expressing my sadness, my dissapointment so most of the times I just kept my mouth shutted. Perhaps it began when I grew up and learned that a friend might not be ready to listen to you all the time. Perhaps I learned how that sometimes they’re also full with their own problems, doubt, sadness – that it was just hard for them to listen to you, let alone feeling with you.
As I grew up I learned to cope with my negative feelings (sadness, anger, dissapointment) by keeping them all inside and try my best to be OK. I learn that people loathe complaining people. (I hate it too when I have to face someone who complain all the time). I learn that telling people my problem didn’t make it dissapear, it could sometimes make it worse. And above all, I learn that lettting people know my feeling often makes me even sadder, madder, or more dissapointed. So I began to keep everything inside, just sharing the happy moments, thinking that the world is already sad enough, why should I add the sadness with mine?
“Hallo Dea, How are you? I’m sure you are OK. You ARE OK, aren’t you?”
What kind of asnwer should I give to those kind of questions, when I was pretty much damaged and tried my best to keep my smile all the times except when I was alone, and those questions came from someone who knew best that I was broken hearted?
I wanted to scream to her saying, “no, damn it, I’m not OK and you know why!” I couldn’t help to think that she was actually not ready to that answer… because she wasn’t ready to listen to me, to comfort me, to be with me. So she kept asking the same questions, and kept answering them for me… making a confirmation that I was OK. I was very much frustrated meeting her at that time and I began to avoid her, not knowing how should I react on that kind of question.
Now it happens again. I’m broken hearted. I’m shattered inside. I’m scared. I’m frightened. And I don’t know how to tell them out.
I have cancer. But I also have children. I have cancer. But I’m a mother.
I don’t have time for grief. I don’t have time to cry and being hysterical. I don’t have extra energy to be drown in tears and surely no chance to lock my self inside my room for three days and refuse to get out except for food and toilet. (That’s what I did in my younger time).
So I resume life. I smile. I laugh. I sigh. I work. I sleep sometimes in fear. I wake up again. I pray. I cry and I continue life. I carry on. I carry on.
But it’s the same thing all over again. When I get messages asking, “how are you”…. I often feel difficult to answer how I am. Should I be honest about my fear? Should I tell them I’m OK when actually I’m tired of being strong? Should I elaborate my frustration and sabotage their time with my story? Will they be OK to hear me? Will they be care? Am I disturbing them? Do I steal their time? Will they understand?
But above all, I myself feel it’s fearful to be honest about how I am, because perhaps if I answer that I’m not strong, then I won’t be strong and this is, my friend, is really not a good time to be not strong.
More than anyting in this world, I know that God is the one who supports me with this calmness all of these months since I knew that I have cancer. But still everyday I wake up with doubt and lay down with fear, thinking about the worst and frightened about the future. I’m so strong, yet I’m so weak in the same time.
And those feelings are just so difficult to tell about. I’m very tired of being strong all the times. But I’m scared that once I give up in my fear then I wouldn’t be able to stand up again. I’m so hopefull of tomorrow, but I’m also so scared of it. It’s like being pulled to two sides all of the times.
So this is the first day of the last week I’m being a “normal” person. This Friday, I’m going to the surgery room and got out formally as a cancer patient, having the surgery done, and will start all those scanning and treatment. I will lose one of the important part of my body (which I never experienced before) and I will have to deal with that. I will learn to live a new life.
And after all those things are done, I hope that I would enter the next phase, as a cancer survivor.
While I’m happy to get the surgery done and let the doctors (God bless them!) remove the monster, I’m also scared in the same time of entering the new life and all those risks of the surgery… will I wake up again? Will I be allergic to the anaesteshy? Will I be able to talk again? Will I be able to sing again? After the pathology done, is the cancer still local? Has it spread? How far is the stage? Will I survive? Will I be able to stand the pain? Will I be able to perform on my role as a mother? As a wife? As a housekeeper? As a person? Will the cancer came back? Will I have chemoteraphy? Will I live long? Will I live short?
So these are all my thoughts, (and many more), and truly if I was being asked, “how are you”… it’s never easy to answer it, not knowing exactly how I am, and fearing about being honest and being destroyed by my honesty to admit that I’m not OK.
So please, my dear friends and family, please understand. And forgive me. If a lot of times I don’t reply messages. If a lot of times I postpone to asnwer, thinking hard what kind of asnwers I should give and life took the keyboard out of my hands and I forget to answer again.
I’m very very sorry that I ïgnore” your kindness and care. I’m very very sorry for being rude and not grateful that you are there. I’m very very sorry that I waste your time to give me your attention.
I really don’t mean that. It’s just hard and this is my odd way to cope and to carry on.
Four more days, and the nightmare will begin. I don’t know if I would able to answer your messages again. Because it’s just getting harder to define my emotions these days. It’s just getting too much to express… and I hope you all will understand.
Please pray for me, so God will keep His hands lifting me up in this tough times. I will always be grateful of your prayers, I will always keep your love with me to the surgery room. I will always know that God loves me, because He sent you to me.
But for now, I’m sorry if I delay giving answers… if I keep silent. If I don’t know what to say.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. That’s what I can say to you

One thought on “On Communicating in Difficult Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *