What Happened? Are You Okay?

I got hit in the face with a door last month.

If you laughed, that’s okay. I would, too. I’m laughing now.

That day? Not so much. The good news is that it happened in the hallway of my doctor’s office, so I was immediately surrounded by people who were ready and willing to help. The bad news is it was so public, and so loud, and so obvious, there was no way to hide it. 

The swing of the bathroom door made a direct, hard hit to my forehead, and I immediately went down to the ground, ears ringing and stars swirling. I was knocked so far back by the blow that I was certain I’d remove my hand from my head to find it split completely in two. 

Fortunately, it was not. But the giant bruise and matching goose egg I had to wear prominently on my forehead for the next few days left me something to show for it. I ended up laid out in the doctor's office for a while with an ice pack on my head, getting my vision, and my memory, and my ears, and all the indicators of a major concussion checked and cleared. 

By the time I left the office that day, I did so with a line of people walking with me out the door. My doctor, the nurse who hit me, the nurse who brought me the ice pack, the other doctor who saw it all go down, the office manager probably trying to avoid a lawsuit of some kind. This small head injury opened me up to a floodgate of support from every person who saw just how much pain I was in.

And for the week that followed, I got a similar response most places I went. The girl next to me in my Pure Barre class eyed the bruise from the mirror the entire time before finally asking me if I was okay. (I’m good, thanks girl). My roommates who I texted to tell about the story were shocked to see just how big the bruise really turned out to be. My chiropractor greeted me with an, “Oh gosh, your face!” (Something you don’t usually want to hear, right?). Even my two-year-old nephew peppered my sister with questions about the whole thing.

That giant black and blue goose egg—this obvious sign of pain and injury—drew the attention of just about everyone I encountered while sporting it. Honestly, it was hard to miss. I mean, I’m talking right in the middle of my forehead, you guys. As soon as people saw it, they followed up with two immediate questions: What happenedAre you okay?

Here’s what’s interesting. The week I got hit in the face with the door also happened to be a pretty difficult week in my personal life (door in the face just really sealed the deal). The details aren’t all that important, but let’s just say, things weren’t going great. I was carrying a lotof stuff, and for a number of reasons, I was carrying it pretty silently. I’d been keeping it mostly to myself, but the pressure was building (as it often does when things forced inside of us need to come out). 

And honestly, I was just begging someone to ask me those two questions: What’s happened? Are you okay?

A personal note from an Enneagram 2: We don’t offer our feelings up easily. We’d rather talk about your feelings. And if you ask us about our feelings, we’ll brush it off. We’ll push it aside. We’ll give you a solid and confident, “Oh, it’s fine.”

But it’s not usually fine. And that week the door hit me in the face both literally and figuratively, it most definitely wasn’t fine. But nobody really knew because honestly, nobody ever asked.

Now let’s just stop here and make one thing clear: This isn’t a woe-is-me, nobody-asked-about-my-feelings blog. It’s not a feel-bad-for-me-cause-my-friends-don’t-care blog. It’s quite the opposite, actually. My friends care. Like a whole helluva lot. They care more than most people do. I will confidently say that I have the best friends in the world, and I will fight anyone who tries to tell me otherwise.

No, this is really more of a Sara-get-over-yourself-and-stop-waiting-for-everyone-to-ask-you type of blog. Because that’s the problem. I think a lot of us have this idea that what we feel or what we’re dealing with is one of two things: 1) Not that big of a deal in comparison to someone else, or 2) Annoying for others to listen to. And honestly, sometimes those things might be true, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real to you. That doesn’t mean that a week when life hits you in the face with door after door after door, you don’t need someone to talk to about it. Is there a balance? Sure! My counselor always says to get it out, talk it out, and then move forward. You can feel it. You can even sit in it for a minute. You just can’t stay in it. There’s no progress in that.

So, what did I eventually do? I wish I could tell you that I learned a valuable lesson from all that emotional stuffing, and I handled it super well like a healthy, emotionally balanced adult. 

But I didn’t do that at all. I ate ice cream in the middle of the day and cried in my room. Then, when someone did ask me (and probably rather casually) how I was doing, I proceeded to word vomit all over them. Feelings everywhere, you guys.

But like I said, my friends are awesome. And because of that, this friend didn’t seem to mind the word vomit. She took it pretty well, actually.

And miraculously, I felt better. It didn’t fix all my problems, or take away the feelings I was feeling, or even cure the giant bruise on my forehead, but it did make me feel like I wasn’t in it alone, at least for that hour. And I don’t know about you, but that’s what I think we all want—to know somebody is in it, big or small, with us.

I learned a lesson that week. Try to stop stuffing. Find the safe place and talk when you need to. Put your feelings first for a moment. Don’t wait for the door to hit you in the face.

But also, start asking. Don’t wait for the giant bruise on someone else’s face before you start asking how they’re doing. And I mean reallyasking—really wanting to listen. If I don’t want to be in it alone, chances are you probably don’t either. 

So can we make a deal?

Let’s all just be in it together.

Sara Shelton