How Are Things? A Loaded Question

I often have people ask me, “How are things?” If they are truly interested in how things actually are, there’s typically a sideways glance attached to the question. Their eyebrows are raised slightly in the center and they always shrug and nod their head slightly when they ask. It’s almost like they’re afraid to ask. I assume this is not because they really don’t want to know the answer, but instead they are concerned that their question and their general interest might stir up some uncomfortable feelings within me.

Let me just say, let’s stir up some feelings friends.

If you ask me how are things, I will tell you, honestly. Before the fire I was generally a pretty honest straightforward person, but tragedy amplified that within me. I will tell you straight up, “how things are.” I cannot at any point guarantee what the answer will be. It changes from hour to hour. I will be honest, because I don’t have time in my life to beat around the bush, or sugar coat or try to make the person asking me, “how are things” feel ok with my answer. I have found that life is far far far too short for all that.

Let’s be honest with each other, at any given moment, each and every single person is hurting in some way. How helpful would it be if we felt comfortable enough with each other, in our culture, as human beings to be honest with our current state of being? Would people heal faster?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere, Starbucks even, and the barista has asked “How are you?” And I’ve been brutally honest and said something along the lines of, “Not excellent, our house burned down in February and today we walked through the house and saw the remains of what was left of the life we’d made. It’s been a rough day.” And their face falls, and they pause whatever they’re doing and they look at me right in the eyes and say, “my house burned down when I was a kid, I know exactly where you’re at.” At that very moment, our hearts, our souls, connect on a level that would have never happened if I had just responded to her questions with, “ok”. And I truly believe in that split second a minutia of healing happens because you’ve connected as human beings who have shared a similar experience.

What if we walked every day like this?

There have been other times when I’ve been asked the same loaded question, “How are you?” and I’ve responded with the same response I gave the barista and people say “oh”. They don’t look away from what they’re doing. They don’t pause. Our eyes never meet. And I wonder when this happens if the person even care’s or if the “how are you” question it truly just a space to fill the void of awkward time when you’re waiting for the checker to scan all your groceries or for a receipt to print.

I feel these broken interactions are a missed chance for true human connection.

So that said, how are things you may ask…

-Emotionally, things are getting better. We’re healing and what we assume is healing is validated to us by our counselor, which is probably the greatest thing there ever was. There are still triggers, and there are moments when I can feel a panic attack encroaching on everyday life but I’ve learned a lot of tools to ward it off and work through the emotions attached to it.

-Physically, we’re completely moved into our rent house. We’ve received all of the things that were salvaged and cleaned from the house. There’s not much, most all of them are still in boxes in the rent house garage. We’ve received any linen/clothing items they were able to clean. Again, most of these are sitting still in the plastic dry cleaning bags in a closet in a spare room. There’s a lot of emotions attached to them, we’re taking it a day at a time.

-Our house is still standing and decaying. We’re working with an architect to draw up new blueprints. Once we do final prints we’ll send them to builders to place bids. Once we sign a builder the demo company and builder will meet to make sure they’re all on the same page (luckily we get to salvage our foundation, all else will be demolished). And then it comes down and we start the building process.

-I am partially back to work with the clients I had post fire. I’m not signing any new marketing clients at this time. I have purchased my camera, lenses and some gear but am not booking sessions. I’m still in a path of healing and rebuilding and I need to focus on that for myself and my family.

-Bill is back to work and applying for a new position within his company. Getting that job would be HUGE for us. He’s gone through the last round of interviews and now we wait.

-Issa is four and that’s been hard on all of us. We have recently put her in therapy as well. She’s only had three sessions but so far so good. The therapist has helped us in a lot of areas and we’re still trying to determine if the behavior issues we’re seeing are trauma related, just being 4 or a combo of both. At the end of the day, therapy cannot hurt, so we’re glad we have the opportunity to do it.

And that’s how we are, in a quick nutshell summary.