by Anne Day
Recently when I was in Florida, I watched a little boy leave the pool area. This young fellow held his head low, bottom lip quivering as he slouched off, walking very slowly back to the main building.
Without a word being said, you just knew he was not a happy camper. Likely his father had told him he couldn’t go in the pool. A totally different picture to the same kid the day before who had been frolicking around and having fun in the water.
Children are so expressive with their body language, and before they have developed a broad vocabulary, you can tell exactly how they are feeling.
Not like the grown ups. What happens to our ability to show and express our feelings? Because by the time we reach adulthood, we’ve been trained and conditioned to squash our negative feelings, especially as women.
And that’s too bad in some ways. Now I am not talking about explosive displays of temper or abusive behaviour that put all around at risk. No, but it should be OK to express how we feel. I used to slam doors myself, maybe that’s why we now have an open-plan concept at home – most of the doors are gone. Darn. ☺
But seriously, if we numb our feelings – where do they go? They end up bottled up inside, festering away until one day you reach the end of your tether – and explode, often not over the real issue that is bothering you. Or worse still, with all that pent up anger, you make yourself depressed and sick.
I grew up in a household where there were no fights, no arguments. My parents never seemed to disagree and my mother would passively tolerate my father’s idiosyncrasies.
I had no siblings, and as my husband is quick to point out, I therefore never really learned to fight, to express strong, negative emotions.
I’ve since learned over the years to stick up for myself and what I believe in, but initially it was scary stuff. I think I believed that if we got into a disagreement or fight, we were headed for divorce. After a long marriage, I know better now and I am pleased to report that we have survived the thunderstorms that are inevitable when you are in a close relationship with someone else.
You find wisdom in the strangest of places. On the washroom wall at a restaurant, I once read “be who you are, say what you mean and always tell the truth.” Seems to me that this is sound advice. Perhaps we need to revert back to that little guy by the pool and be more transparent on how we are feeling but use our words to share and articulate our feelings.