I was grumpy this morning and it was my lovely personal trainer Emma who copped the brunt of it.
It wasn’t anger or aggression or rudeness, it was a po-faced expression (I just checked the spelling of po-faced and found it comes from the French pot de chambre – chamber pot- after the distasteful expression one gets from being presented with a full one). Yep, that’s how I was feeling. Tuesdayitis. You name it, you get my drift.
I felt embarrassed as I’m not supposed to feel this way. Aren’t I the guy who’s supposed to lead the charge of the happiness parade? The one with the permanent smile? The older version of how every younger person must look today on Facebook, direct from their blissful holidays in Bali? Who are we all kidding?
It is Emma who has trained my body and mind over the last twelve years whilst offering some home spun truths. You know, the sort of person who pretends that she’s pushing your body into shape when she’s actually massaging your mind. Often it’s my mind that needs far more attention than the body. No good having a shiny car when the engine’s broke! And the early mornings are the worst.
So, whilst I’m protesting embarrassment, she’s putting it into perspective.
“How do you expect to be offering help to men using the principles and ideas you have developed for Life Again if you no longer face those dark places? You don’t feel their pain.”
She then reminded me of something I talk about all the time – we all face the highs and lows of life, some more than others. It’s not a question of whether somebody is better or worse off than ourselves, because we will never know. The real issue is how we deal with it when it happens. We are human. It happens.
Just because I suffered serious depression 17 years ago and use this as the starting point for my next journey in life, doesn’t mean that I have been given a “Get out of jail free” card for life.
What it has given me is a better understanding of who I am and how I function and how I can work my way through the forest when I find myself back in it.
In fact another good friend and counsellor was the first person to to put this into perspective. It might sound like spin but it makes sense. The black dog and recurring dark days are part of my make-up. They are neither good nor bad. They are who I am. They are my test. It’s only when one realises this that we don’t feel so locked into the downward spiral of life. We know we can always fight back. It just takes hard work. Churchill had chronic bouts of black dog and did ok didn’t he? He won a war.
My hour’s gym session with Emma finished, I headed to the door. Another trainer Tash said something to me and I smilingly replied. She responded by saying I “always seemed happy!” Little did she know. But also little did she need to know. There’s no sense transferring the weight on my shoulders onto somebody else.
So many people have conditioned themselves into wearing a Po-face. The twenty past eight mouth and the pained look. They are screaming out for sympathy. Hoping they’ll meet somebody who’ll listen or, better still, hoping they’ll meet somebody who is in more pain. Give them a measuring stick of how badly off they are.
Nonetheless, there is only one thing you can be certain of. Unless it’s your lover or your mother and not necessarily either, the other person does not really give a damn about how you are feeling.
Perhaps they’ll listen- but are they really listening? Perhaps they’ll give you some word of advice or encouragement- but is it truly from the heart. Perhaps they’ll give you time- but chances are they’d rather be somewhere else.
The truth being that they have got their own problems to deal with. We all do. We are forever processing our own issues throughout our waking hours. We have to resolve these as they arise rather than try to resolve somebody else’s. And when we think we’ve got them worked out, the next lot have arrived.
We actually don’t have time for negative people and when they manage to dig their way into our overloaded minds, they cause unnecessary disruption.
Something told me I was on a hiding to nothing if I gave trainer Tash the frown. I didn’t and she happily responded.
Turns out it was the morning that I couldn’t trust.