How are you?

“I’m fine.”
“We’re doing ok.”

it’s the well rehearsed and expected response when asked ‘How are you?’. When we ask people we only leave enough time for ‘fine’ or ‘ok’, we’re often on the move. We don’t have the time or the energy to deal with answers of any more depth or complexity.

It’s socially awkward to overshare, isn’t it?

I don’t think we deliberately set out to deceive, but sharing when life is hard, particularly when it comes to our children makes us very vulnerable. We naturally like to take pride in our children and their achievements which means we often only share half the story. When your child doesn’t fit the mould and their achievements aren’t comparable with their peers it can feel isolating and a lonely struggle.

One of the things I have grown to love about H is that his emotions seem so simple. He struggles to hide his real feelings in public. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t feeling lots of anxiety underneath, he’s just not able to follow the expected social cues just because everyone else is.

This mind-blindness can lead to lots of laughing and at times tears and stress on all sides! Some examples of the funny side was when he was calling everyone with grey hair ‘grandma’! Saying ‘hello fat controller’ when it was just in fact a large man in a suit at the local steam railway and shouting ‘stop that noise’ during the singing at church!

It can be stressful too mainly because it hurts our parental pride like when he’s refusing to take new presents (most not even opened) and playing with his old ones. Asking to go home when we have just arrived somewhere. Refusing to interact with family members that we love including his own brothers. Running away and hiding from familiar people and things that should be enjoyable.

He wouldn’t humour you by trying something you have lovingly prepared or thank you if he hadn’t wanted it. His world can seem easier as he generally ‘says what he means and means what he says’.

For us neurotypical types it can be so much more complicated! Working out what people really meant, trying to fit in and say the right thing can be exhausting and a likely cause of anxiety. Or is that just me?

At times when H is not conforming it’s forced me to let my guard down and to share that life is tough. There’s nothing like a meltdown in public to scream that we don’t have lots of things sorted! He doesn’t allow me to hide the real picture as much as I would’ve probably chosen. It’s amazing how these opportunities have opened up conversations for others to share their concerns, worries and fears.

It’s a good reminder to me that we have a creator God who made us and we cannot hide anything from him. Not in a creepy big brother way but in a comforting, ‘I am known and loved’ way.

It’s ok not to be ok! So next time someone asks you ‘how are you all?’ Think about your response and maybe an ‘overshare’ from you will allow them to open up too. Friendship and support can come from the most unlikely sources and everyone has a story to share.

Follow me on Instagram @alibourne.85 and do share your stories!

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1 Comment

  • Adele
    Posted 9th October 2018 at 11:15 am 0Likes

    I’ve started to say ‘surviving’. It’s a more honest answer, but still short. I’ve found this then gives the other person an option to leave it at that or to ask more if they are genuinely interested. I’m naturally a person who overshares (almost certainly autistic myself, but that’s complicated) and find it hard to understand why others are not the same or why people don’t seem interested in my honest answer and so get upset with myself for yet again saying to much when I promised myself I wouldn’t this time. I also really struggle with others not being true with me. I hate the ‘I’m fine how are you’ questions I want you to be real, actually no, I need you to be real! Massive hugs! X

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