I wasn’t lying, although I appreciated the question. I have had a cold for three weeks now. I am an average of 67% mucus, which means that I am constantly sniffling and blowing my nose. My eyes are red. I blew past this colleague in a hallway, she saw the red eyes, and the quick interchange of “how are you/I’m fine” stopped when she turned and said “You are lying. You are not ok.”
I explained the cold, the sniffling and red eyes were not tears.
Although they could have been. They often have been.
I am in the dying days of my master’s class, slogging through an essay which is not coming easily. Constantly worried that I am not smart enough and I don’t know enough of the right academic words to succeed.
Work is terrible. Having given my all, I have been removed from a project. My boss, tired of the vagaries of the world we were working in has resigned and moved on to another project. I’m hurt and weary, without much acknowledgement of being human. I was “bulk assigned” to a new manager. He’s a nice enough man, but I am aware that I lost a cheerleader when I could use one.
My nephew’s diagnosis weighs on me. I find myself at turns unreasonably angry, heartbroken and weary. I am so far away, there is so little I can do. Horror has come to them and I cannot protect them from this. They have only the dimmest idea of what this sort of tragedy is like. They are not sure if they can stand in the face of it; I don’t know either. I do know that the universe does not care if they can stand, they are simply going to have to.
Out of the worst of 2014, I developed a trick. I call it the kind stranger. Effectively, if a stranger told me what I was going through, would I exercise care and empathy? If I can do that for a complete stranger that I am in no way invested in, could I not do that for myself? Could I not offer myself at least the care I would offer a stranger?
And the problem is the voice in my head. The voice which insists that I should be better at this, that I should be able to manage all of this. The voice that insists I should know imposter syndrome at school when I see it, and just be able to push past. The voice which reminds me that I must learn to separate my sense of self from my work life; that this has been a habitual and continual problem. I will not always succeed at work, and it will not always be my fault when I fail. And the voice which says that I am not dying, my husband is not dying, my parent is not dying, and I should be able to separate my grief and rage in order to support them.
I won’t lie, I’m struggling with those voices.