“Are you okay?”
An innocuous question but for me, it comes tethered to my husband’s emotions, and has done for many years.
It has always been my job to make sure that he was okay. It would take many forms; making sure dinner was ready when he came home late, tired and grumpy. Putting the kids to bed so that he could close his eyes for a while; taking care of the house, and just generally making sure that he had no responsibilities within the family unit such as school paperwork, groceries, sex, anything at all.
In these ways, I made sure that he okay. And if he was okay, then I was okay but I really wasn’t, and I never knew how to express that I wasn’t.
I am learning to loosen my grasp on the honesty of my answer. I don’t have to hold in the truth. Don’t be afraid to say no, I am not okay, but I’m working on my shit and I will be okay in some form or another.
I am not responsible for how you feel, and I will not apologize for how I feel.
My husband is a lovely man, and would never make me feel badly about myself, but I know that when he asks me this question, there is an underlying reason for it. He may not like what he hears from this point forward but opening up to the truth is not an easy thing.
We are accountable for our own emotions, not anybody else’s – not our children’s, not our parents’, our partners’, or our friends’. It’s such a liberating thing to realize and become aware of and yet, we feel so intertwined and buffeted against each other, it’s easy to lose ourselves in those closest to us.
So, I say this is my emotional well. That is yours. Mine had run dry for a while but it’s filling up nicely now. Yours is, too, I see. If you feel yours is murky from time to time, or dipping below the plumb line, do not look to me to clean it up or refill it. We can share from our wells as long as it doesn’t compromise the depth or quality of the water.