Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stupid Question

On Friday afternoon, we went to the nursing home again. Mary was there and when she saw me she asked how I am. I replied that I am good, then asked her "How are you?"

I immediately began kicking myself mentally. I mean, can she answer that question? Her mother is dying and I ask how are you. It is pretty obvious that things stink for her right now, and we don't have a close enough relationship for her to answer with anything other than the socially acceptable "Fine." So basically, by asking that question, I am either asking her to lie to me or I am saying that I really don't care. And neither of those is what I intended, but I just didn't stop to think. I didn't measure my words before allowing them to leave my mouth.

Thankfully, she just didn't answer.

I wonder how it has become so ingrained in me that my answer is almost always just "good" when someone asks that question. And I wonder why I ask it back even when I know that the answer is "Life really stinks right now," and I also know that the person I am talking to is not comfortable enough with me to tell me how he/she is really doing. Have I become so insensitive to people's feelings and needs? It would seem that the answer right now is yes. Rather than stopping to think and really communicate with others, I go on autopilot and just say what is habit. It looks like I have some serious work to do.

And now, I will go try to remove my foot from my mouth.