Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

“I’m fine.”

What does the phrase really mean? Sure, we hear the stereotypical tale of the woman who says, “I’m fine,” in an argument. Is she ever really fine? Not at all. It’s almost a dare to the person on the other side of the discussion to disregard whatever nonverbal cues are being sent. It would seem obvious that someone who says “I’m fine” is anything but fine.

Yet, here we are.

My husband and I had to hop the Canadian border to get to an American hospital during a vacation because for days he insisted that he was “fine.” A blister on his ankle advanced to a serious infection that had him on bed rest for 5 days, but he was “fine.” I don’t think he was lying when he believed that it was just a blister, and it was only sore because we were wandering around like tourists. But he didn’t acknowledge the seriousness of his condition because he was so determined to be “fine.”

I’m no better. I denied for weeks that a cold was getting worse. I genuinely believed I was getting better, and when I said I felt “fine,” I meant it. I wouldn’t have trudged forward as if pneumonia is one of my favorite hobbies. By the time I got shoved into the walk-in clinic by family, I was very close to pneumonia and put on a steady regimen of antibiotics to treat advanced bronchitis.

I’m not trying to deceive others. I’m not trying to guilt my husband or martyr myself over a pile of laundry. I’m not hiding behind a passive aggressive approach. When I say that I’m fine, I truly want to be.

This is the problem that my husband and I both ran into. We were so hell-bent on being fine that we completely disregarded our own health. We shoved aside our needs for the benefit of others, even if it wasn’t on purpose. My husband wanted us to enjoy our vacation. The last thing I wanted was my own doctor visit when I was fielding two sick kids. Some things you can wish into reality, but when it comes to your physical and mental health, it can’t be ignored.

This is something that I’m going to consider the next time I reply to someone that “I’m fine.” Am I really? Or could I be doing more for myself? Should I speak up? Think about how many times you tell others that “it’s fine” when it’s anything but fine. What could you have said differently? There are so many alternatives, and it doesn’t have to be an argument.

“Actually, I think my leg is about to fall off. Should we get this checked?”

“I’m pretty upset. Can we talk more about it?”

“No, I’m not doing as well as I would like, but that’s ok.”

“I could really use your help.”

“I need a break.”

Stop being fine. Be more than fine. Be annoyed. Be honest. Be frustrated. Be happy. But let’s kick “I’m fine” to the curb. It tells nothing of what you’re really feeling, and you deserve better. As parents our needs don’t always come first, but let’s at least put an honest label on our concerns.