Tell Me, How Do You REALLY Feel?

Sarah Broady
February 4, 2023

Whenever I run into someone I know in public, and especially when I’m somewhere that includes many people I know (such as church), the typical walk-by greeting goes something like, “Hi (name)! How are you?” The typical walk-by response is usually, “Fine, thanks. How are you?” to which the initial greeter will answer in like kind and the two parties will continue on their merry ways. This response is given pretty much regardless of how one is actually feeling, especially if how one is actually feeling is something they know the greeter has neither the time nor the desire to listen to everything one would say if they said how they were actually doing, whether positive or negative, but especially negative.

I do not care for this sugar-coated shallow exchange. I have certainly participated in such (even as the initial greeter!), but I do not care for it. It is simply not genuine and sincere. But I don’t want to dump on the poor person who is trying to be sociable by holding them hostage with my tales of woe and potential episode of tears that is sure to well up recounting my story of how I came to be caught up in such emotional wreckage. However, I also don’t want to be fake in my response, so I typically pause for a moment (sometimes I really do have to think to myself, “Self, how are you really feeling?”) before giving a truthful, yet concise answer. It’s great when I realize in that moment that, hey, things really are great, and I really AM fine! Not just fine, but I can say I’m doing well! They always seem surprised, as if I should have known this all along, but sometimes I surprise myself!

If someone were to ask me right now, “How are you doing?”, I would probably say, “Fine”. I’m not horrible, but I’m not good, and certainly not great. I would likely also add, “I’m pretty tired.” But then they would assume I had exerted some sort of physical activity, like running or biking or cleaning or working in the yard, etc, and would then ask the fatal question, “How come?” Ah, the poor soul. Little do they know what’s coming. Had they known better, they would have accepted “fine” and moved on their merry way.   

By the way, I really am fine, but I really am also pretty tired. As you guessed, it is not from any amount of physical activity. I don’t believe in exercise. 🙂 Ok, I’m kidding. I do, I just don’t do it. That’s beside the point though. Where was I? Right. I am tired. I am emotionally tired.  Now, the fatal question: “Why?” Well, I’ll tell you, you poor soul since you asked for it. Because

* I’ve been crying a lot lately, and that’s just exhausting
* My son has autism, and it’s just hard to deal with all the time
* I have 2 other boys and they need me just as much as Sam
* I am constantly reminded that our life is different than what I pictured and wanted
* I have been reading and reading and researching and talking with people trying to figure out better ways to work with Sam
* The methods and techniques we use with him last only a short amount of time before we have to switch to another method or technique; therefore, it feels like nothing is working
* Sam is a screamer, and my nerves are simply shot from all the screaming, crying, and overreacting
* I keep trying to hide away, but I keep getting found
* Even though we just had a date last night, my husband and I feel distant from each other because we’re both tired
* All I can think about is autism, and anything else I try to put my mind on keeps reminding me of it
* I want to be an encouragement to other autism/special needs moms, but I feel like I’m not a very good example if I’m whining in my blog. (Although… “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”)
* I am a participant of this great thing we call “LIFE”, and autism is not the only thing in my life I am dealing with

Unfortunately, sleep does not seem to help this type of exhaustion, because when I wake up, it’s still there. Autism is still there. It will always be there. It won’t always look the way it does now, but it will still be there. I can’t erase it – and I don’t think I’d want to necessarily since it is part of my son and part of what makes him who he is. I don’t want to change him. I want to change it. I can’t fix it – I can only help him function appropriately (a word I am beginning to despise) with it, and if I were to set my sights and goals on aiming to “fix” it, I would be neglecting to accept him for who he is – my sweet son with autism who is cute, and smart and funny and quirky and cool and knows an absurd amount of information about flags and is learning an absurd amount of information about every country and culture in the world (which I am convinced will make him Jeopardy Champion one day and win an absurd amount of money) and can even recite all the countries (that he knows so far) in alphabetical order. That’s GOT to be worth something, right?

Perhaps I am struggling more with the wavering line between doing everything I can in the fight against autism to help him cope and function well and appropriately in life and just accepting him as my son with autism. He is still so young, only 6 years old, so I know that he’s not fully developed and by no means has reached his full potential. God is so not done with him yet, so I should not be either.

Therein lies the clutch. I’m just tired.
So, how are you doing? (Really??)

Meet Sarah

Sarah is a wife and mother to three sons, one of whom has autism. She is a writer, speaker, and produce and host of A Special Hope Podcast.

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Discovering special hope in the stories of those living with special needs, those who strive to minister to special needs families, and the God who is making all things new. Available here, or anywhere you podcast.


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    First off Honesty…I love honesty. I love the raw honestly of your blog, and how you just put yourself out there. It's encouraging and refreshing!

    How am I…I am tired also. Sometimes phyiscally and emotionally, but almost always emotionally, and your right sleep doesn't make that tired go away. However I have never been happier and filled with more joy ( I credit Jesus). My

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    Hang in there, Sarah. You have folks who do love you, you have great parents, and an adopted sister who is going to miss you very much when she has to move out of MD!!! Cyber hug, sis. I feel tired too right now. But I have an end in sight. I wish I could do more for you. May God grant you some sweet reprieve and some light at the end of the tunnel!!!

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