One Easter morning, over eggs Benedict, my dad just threw this statement out there. It was apropos of nothing. There was no segue. He just launched this thing. The statement was met with silence, then incredulity, then hilarity. We came to call those kinds of statements Conversation Grenades. You just toss one out there, wait for it, then Boom! enjoy the aftermath. (In this case, it turned out that he had found the bobcat on a road where it had been killed by a vehicle. It would make perfect sense for him to have it if you knew my dad.)
A few times in recent weeks, I’ve been in situations where others politely inquired, “How are you?” My reply is something vague and innocuous because there are those who would be gleeful at my struggles over the past 18 months. They would appear to commiserate, but would gather later to gloat. I know they would and, maybe I would deserve it a little. But, since I had no interest in watching the Goblin joy of these members of the Schadenfreude family, I smiled, nodded and said I was fine.
But, just once, it would have been kind of fun to lob a conversation grenade, just sit back and watch. Don’t you think?
When someone who doesn’t really care inquires about your condition, wouldn’t you like to give them a shocking answer just to see what they’d do?
“How are you?”
- Back on the pipe, but what can you do, right?
- Suicidal and bankrupt, thanks, and you?
- Well, the voices are back, but at least I’m never lonely!
- Super excited my case was dismissed!
Of course, we can’t do all that. We have to be polite (except in therapy) or things will grind to a complete stand still, if just from the shock alone. We have to say that we’re fine or something vaguely positive, right? No one wants to hear the other stuff.
Well, most don’t, anyway.
I was reminded by a friend who once let me down in a MAJOR way, that there are people in our lives who do care. Sometimes they screw up and let us down, but, as he said, they can learn. They may not know how to help or how to spot a crisis unless we tell them, but we should never mistake their inability to see the problem with an unwillingness to help. These are the people who will deal with our grenades.
They might fumble with them a bit at first, but eventually, they’ll get control. They will comfort us or help us while we deal with the issues. We just have to let them. We have to expose our vulnerabilities, our soft underbellies to them.
But sometimes that’s the hardest part.