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VI. Fine: Feelings Inside Not Expressed.

Expressing joy is not actually generally accepted in our culture of careful public expression of feeling. How many times do we mechanically respond “Fine,” to the question, “How are you?” Imagine if you responded honestly when you were in a state of abject misery? Or when you were in a state of elation? Neither would be the usual, expected response.

I wrote about “Fine,” in my blog ( and someone commented on how a stranger had once said of fine: Feelings Inside Not Expressed. And that about says it, really. We clamp down on the big feelings to make them socially digestible. Those of us who don’t get looked upon with askance, or shunned. We have to find our particular group of people who will accept our big expressions of feelings. But many of us haven’t been able to find our people, and we carry on, lonely.

Once I was having a really hard night with my youngest kid. In order to shift our interactions, we decided to go for a drive in the van and get gas. I had a coupon that I wanted to use so I had to go into the gas station and do my transaction with a human instead of with the pay-at-the-pump machine. The young woman at the till asked me how I was doing. I automatically said fine, even though I had been weeping quietly in the van on the drive there, and then I caught myself and realized that even here, even in this minor interaction with a human, I was doing us both some kind of disservice by pretending that I was fine. So I said, actually, I’m really sad. And she said, yes, you don’t look like you’re fine. To my well-socially-trained dismay, I started sobbing in the gas station. The young woman came out from behind her protective glass, through the little door to her till space and came and held me.

It’s hard to go honestly through the world that expects you to be together and emotionally tidy when you’re out in public.

It’s hard to let life rock you and fill you and love you back when you have to keep it all in a polite line.

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