Thoughts, Musings and Reflections

“How Are You? No. I Mean Really, How Are You?”

This weekend I ran into a friend that I have not seen in a while. It was at an event with drinks flowing, fancy hors d’oeuvres being passed about, and people impeccably dressed in beautiful attire. As we stood at the bar, my friend turned to me and asked, “How are you?” I smiled and said, “I’m good,” nodding my head just hard enough that perhaps I would believe that I was good. 

My friend paused and said, “No, really, how are you, Hannah?” I felt my chest tighten as I sucked in air, afraid that I would suck all the air from beneath the tent if I inhaled anymore. I was standing in a space with affluence, incredible drinks, trendy music; the sun was shining peppered with an ‘on the cusp’ breeze of Fall. I shouldn’t have a care in the world, yet still, I found myself fighting back the tears when they asked, “No, really. How are you?” 

Immediately my mind found the pathway back to when another friend met with me on Zoom. It was for a pre-call to a workshop that I was conducting for their organization, and they asked how I was doing. I said, “I am fine.” Then they asked, “No, really, how are you?” Even on that Zoom call, I fought back the tears. I lied, forcing a smile that I hoped looked genuine as I said, “I’m good. I’m good.” I am the strong one. I am not allowed to have bad days.

Do people really want to know how I am doing? A part of me feels like, who am I to complain? So many people have it harder than I do. Who am I to tell people about things that are bothering me when people are dealing with so much at this time? My concerns seem frivolous. I have a roof over my head, employment, food, transportation. I have all the things that are supposed to make us happy, make us okay, make us say we are fine, even as our world is falling apart. 

However, their question made me wonder, what would the world look like if we didn’t ask that question (How are you?) expecting a generic answer? What if we asked, “How are you,” and truly listened for an answer? And what if it was okay NOT to give a standard response. 

What if I could say…

I am not okay. I am not good. I am not fine. 

I am fighting to hold my head up above the water, all while I feel like I am drowning. And if I may be honest, a part of me wants to drown so that this fight will be over. 

I am sad. I am hurting. I am traumatized.

I am tired – physically, mentally, spiritually. 

I am dealing with my Mom having breast cancer and never calling me to tell me but telling my sister who passed the message along to me.

I am fighting to understand that in life I have made some horrible choices and now I am fighting to do better.

I suffer from social anxiety and just being in spaces with people causes me to second guess who I am. 

I am doing my best to stay healthy in a global pandemic, amazed that people have made wearing a mask political. 

I am disgusted that racism continues to be a tool to divide this country. 

I hate that those in power play on the ignorance of people who are suffering. 

I fight to resist the urge to say I told you so because I believe in karma, and their ignorance is not an excuse for me to lose my humanity. 

I am tired of fighting for a nation that seems hellbent on destroying itself. 

I am sick of talking to White people about racism. If you hate me because I am Black, say that, and let’s just move on. 

I am fighting for something I know I will never see in my lifetime. I am tired of living a life fighting, protesting, and just trying to get this world to see the truth.

I live in a city I have given my best only for this city to teargas me when I demanded justice for Black people. 

I am tired.  Tired of being the strong one. Tired of the word resilience. Tired of it all.

I am tired of buying melatonin and Z-quil. I am tired of fighting to sleep. Rest seems unattainable.

I fight to find any pleasure in food. It all tastes the same. One day chicken, the next steak. On good days perhaps fish. Who cares? But how can I complain when people are dealing with unnecessary hunger in this society?

I am filled with anxiety about what the next moment holds. 

I watch the same shows repeatedly on Netflix because I use it to drown out the deafening silence in my house. 

I am lonely.  My house is big and quiet. Too quiet, and the silence speaks. My only happiness has been my new puppy. 

I scroll mindlessly through social media – half disgusted by the things I read, the other half of me disgusted that I am wasting my time when I should be doing something productive, right? 

I worry about myself and my daughter as women in this world. 

I want to close my eyes and rest on my back deck, but I cannot because drugs and lawlessness overrun my community.  I cannot go on my back deck without carrying my gun. 

I am tired of not feeling safe in my own home. 

I am tired of life impacting my relationships. I want to be in a relationship where we are both happy, living, smiling, not surviving. 

I want to have deep intimacy without thoughts of revolution. 

I am sick of just surviving. 

Every single day is a fight to just get out of bed. I want to sleep the days away. 

I hate that I am not rich and cannot just live a life where none of this matters. 

I want not to care. Every day I wonder why God made me care. Why do I care about the state of this nation? If this is how this nation wants to be, so be it. Why am I constantly fighting for people who wouldn’t spit on me if I was on fire? 

But every day I wake up, I care. Every day I go through the world, I care. 

And it is tiring and draining and often unrewarding. But some days, I get a glimpse, just a tiny glimpse of what could be, and it makes it worth it.  It makes me decide I will run on and see what the end will be. 

But of course, no one wants to hear all that. 

So, when you ask me, “How are you?” I will nod and say I am good fighting back the tears that seek to fall like raindrops, inwardly denying the storm that rages inside me. 

7 replies »

  1. I think the capitalistic drive of our society has made it into the values of people; how we hold and relate to each other.

    We always feel like there should be a exchange so interest easily falls off within folks. Everyone wants to get something out of an exchange, instead simply showing up to witness another person’s existence as a part of fully taking in life. We relate to people as things to acquire or resolve status as a society, leaving little room for actual interest.

    Tbh, people even relate poorly to their purchases, due to the media selling us on the entertainment aspect of everything. So what we are left with is a shallow or abundantly pretentious society.

    I hope your mom gets better and hope you and your daughter stay safe.

  2. I’m an athiest to the core, but I cannot deny that sometimes the bible can be very comforting to me. I don’t know if this is comforting for you but one answer for why you care so much:

    “Be careful if you make a women cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man’s ribs. Not from his feet to be walked on, not from his head to be superior, but from his side to be equal, under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved.”

    There really are two kinds of people in the world. You care because you are born into this world to offset the many (and there are plenty) who do not care. That’s who we’re fighting. Somebody’s got to care and you (and me, and those like us) got drafted to this side.

  3. Yeah, the Cluster B spectrum is really having its way with us right now. I’m having trouble managing the surrealism versus actual reality that people keep ignoring.

  4. I said I would wait until the next day before reading your blog “How Are You? No. I Mean Really, How Are You?” I knew it was going to bring tears to my eyes and take me to a place of vulnerability that many “strong” individuals experience in silence, simply because we care. I can relate to how tiring it can be to just exist in a world in which your efforts to bring about progressive change will never be enough. This might be the same level of fatigue expressed by Fannie Lou Hamer when she said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Hannah Drake I will always love and support you from afar because the authenticity of your written and spoken words strips away our facades and forces us to have those uncomfortable conversations regarding our reality, as we stand naked and exposed. It’s actually very empowering. Thank you for opening that door. Much love my beautiful, Black Queen! 🌹

  5. “ And if I may be honest, a part of me wants to drown so that this fight will be over.”

    I felt every word you said in this piece however, the above quote hit me hard because that’s exactly how i’ve been feeling for some time.

    I’m still fighting, we all are, but never lose sight of your purpose. Praying for you sis.

    Peace & Love

  6. Dear One. I felt every word. I am typing this with tears in my eyes. I truly love you. Though I don’t know your person in person, I love your soul and I am grateful for you. I get it. Thank you for writing your truth and helping me feel my own with less loneliness.

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