Bitching In Private

Today’s Daily Post prompt is to write about what it takes for you to ask for help when you’re unwell. I’ve had a lot of practice at being sick as of late, so part of me feels that this prompt is a natural fit for my circumstances, while the rest of me just wants to ignore it and move on. Which is fitting, really, since that’s how I deal with illness and misfortune, in general.

I learned pretty early on that no one really cares if you’re not feeling well, or if you’ve got emotional issues to deal with that impede your ability to function day-to-day. Sure, if I call my parents and complain that I’ve got a bad cold, and can’t stop coughing, my dad suggests herbal remedies and my mom expresses general concern. But in the end, they live 1,000 miles away and no one is hopping on a plane to come and comfort me. I’m pretty sure that if the cough grew into lung cancer or tuberculosis, no one would hop on a plane then, either. It’s just not the way my family functions.

A few years ago, my dad almost lost his leg due to an infection. He didn’t tell me for a few months, by which time it was just a hint thrown into a passing conversation. My grandfather had cancer a few years back. He didn’t tell my mother, his daughter, until after he had been treated successfully. My other grandfather died of cancer of the lymph nodes. He didn’t tell anyone – not even his wife of over 40 years – that he was seriously ill. One day he went to the hospital and was admitted. He died a couple of weeks later. You can probably see the pattern here. My family doesn’t talk about being sick, and as a result isn’t equipped to deal with you if you are sick.

Unfortunately, the same applies to mental health and general life issues. Having trouble? Keep it to yourself. Or tell someone, but they won’t have anything constructive to say because the code of conduct calls for ignoring life until you die. Anything other than soldiering on without complaint is so disruptive that all you’ll hear on the other end of the phone is embarrassed silence, followed up with a, “Well, you hang in there.” So useful.

And The Man is no help, either. I try to talk to him about what I’m feeling, but it turns into a mess. A good solid half of my problem is my upbringing, but he’s no better at the task of sharing. We both feel stupid when we talk to each other about things, so we don’t. And it doesn’t help that I love to hear him talk about himself, but he hates hearing me express my needs, since he can’t understand what I’m saying and thus can’t “fix” it. Typical problem between men and women, but talk about a recipe for disaster. I’m tired of living this quiet little mouse life, when I want something big and effusive. Maybe I wouldn’t let my problems eat me alive if I had somewhere else to put them.

Interestingly, now we’ve come full circle. I feel sick. I bottle it up. It makes me unhappy. I cope in unhealthy ways, so then I feel more sick. I only share here on the blog, which is why you guys get an earful of complaints. That’s my life – bitching in private, trying to figure out a way to break the circle. Thanks for being there for me, readers.