Are you okay?

It’s hard to admit you were wrong.

Even if you’re not an overly proud person. Even if you’re prone to error. You still retain that little bit of pride in knowing exactly what you feel, even if you cannot put it into words.

But what happens when you realize you’ve been swiftly lying to yourself for quite some time, while you’ve been fervently stating how you despise any kind of lie, deceit and dishonesty?

People have been asking me, quite frequently, if I’m okay.

That question triggers an automatic response from my body and I’m never quick enough to stop the smile or swallow the words before they’re out of my mouth: “I’m fine.”

As difficult a habit as it is, you’re bound to notice the lie and succeed at stopping it. Maybe because a stronger trigger has been activated or you finally lost the energy to react so spontaneously.

At least that’s what happened to me, a few days ago.

A true dear friend of mine and I had been whispering our concerns for one another for quite some time, in a secluded corridor, away from the company of our lively group of friends. When I thought our conversation had come to an end, she suddenly dropped the dreaded question: “Are you okay?”

The ghost of a smile made its way onto my lips, but one look at her eyes and I felt the weight of genuine concern tug the strings in my heart. Another trigger was promptly activated and the worries and misfortunes I had stored in my throat in the last few months released themselves like an avalanche. In my voice I heard anger, fear, sadness, helplessness, confusion, uncertainty‚Ķ When I thought the endless torrent of emotions was done she asked: “And him?”

It’s important to clarify that your name had not been spoken yet and that, at the time, I hadn’t thought of you as part of what might further aggravate my state of mind. You were just another misfortune past. A sad and painful piece of the great puzzle of life accessed and dealt with.

That was the ultimate lie I had been telling myself.

Like mushrooms, the problems had been popping everywhere and your name kind of faded, like the glow-in-the-dark stars I still keep on my ceiling. Dusty, but far from being done yet.

With that thought in my mind, how was I supposed to answer her question?

Why would I want to tell anyone that I wasn’t enough?

Why would I want her to know that after you saw my soul, you didn’t find it worth staying for?

Why would I want to admit I probably liked you more than I thought I did?

But as soon as the questions started clogging my mind, a sigh slipped past the walls of my chest and I was too late to catch it. She listened and she understood. No more questions asked.

She left with a knowing smile and wishes of warmer and more hopeful days to come, for the both of us, and me with a lighter heart and the notion that sometimes not even I can understand what I’m feeling.

The next time they ask me if I’m okay, I’ll still probably smile and say I’m fine.

But this time it will be because I chose not to tell.

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