Walking on Fresh Grass
“I am so sick of everything! My work, where we live, how hot it is all the time. I’m not getting any sleep and I’m tired and cranky. I’m …”
Grizzle, grizzle, grizzle.
We were on our usual bushwalk. I was stomping along and gesturing madly with my hands. Occasionally we would pass other people out on walks. They stared at me as if I should be on stage or locked up. I should be – on stage, I mean. No-one ever seems to talk, or gesticulate as much as Christian and I do. Above us cockatoos were screeching out obscenities that suited my mood perfectly.
“And I nearly lost it when she said….”
Whinge, whinge, whinge.
Brits whinge . North Americans gripe. Australians rag on, grizzle, do our block, do our nut, and when it gets too bad we spit the dummy.
“And I’m really worried about….”
Gripe, gripe, gripe.
“I know that I have no right to complain, but … ”
“Wait a minute!” Christian almost yelled.
He had to raise his voice. I had been having such a good complain for the last 20 minutes, and had become so used to the sound of my own voice that I almost forgot he was there.
Why did he stop me then? OK … I must have touched a nerve.
“I hate it when people say that. You have every right to complain.”
Sure we were alone together but, ooh… “hate.” Strong word for Christian.
I knew I was in for one of his delightfully long-winded explanations. The fierce Queensland sun was slowly setting and a gentle wind cooled my heated emotions. We had time.
This is the short version:
When you hold things in, you repress them. Repressed feelings, hurts, troubles, problems and emotions always manifest in some other way in your life:
You become highly-strung.
You get sick.
You get bitter as you age.
Complaining is often called “getting things off your chest,” because that’s where repressed thoughts and feelings sit. They weigh down heavily on you until you can’t breathe anymore.
People have so many shoulds and shouldn’ts in their heads:
“You should be positive all the time.”
“No-one likes a whinger.”
“Always look on the bright side.”
“Some good will come out of this.”
“Others are worse off.”
I was brought up with these sayings. I felt guilty whenever I complained. As if I had no right to do it.
I have since learned otherwise.
It’s OK to complain. It releases built up tension. It’s real. It’s cathartic. It also means that you trust someone else enough to show them what’s really going on inside.
You privilege them by letting them know what’s really going on inside your head. That helps.
It also helps when they just listen.
As we retraced our steps on the way back we saw the flock of cockatoos again. They had alighted on a plain old grey gumtree, transforming it into a mass of white “flowers.” They were no longer screeching. They had had a good whinge and were now perched on the branches, in harmony with each other. Together they happily chewed on the gumnuts making a big mess on the ground.
A deep peace crept over the bush as we slowly walked home.
Question: What "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" were you told as a child? We'd love to hear. Please write it in a comment.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains a little story of our journey and an insight drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience as a psychiatrist. The central ideas are in bold. We post every fortnight and would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.