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  • ellenwohl712

SNAP! Avoiding the Complaint Dept.

In the midst of my husband’s latest illness, I qualified for a caregiver study conducted by Case Western Reserve University. I met with an interventionist to receive training on ways to cope with my anxiety. Some of it was common sense, but there were things I just never did … like asking for help. It was pointed out to me, “If you don’t ask, everyone will assume that you are coping.”

There’s a Yiddish expression, “If we all put our troubles on a table and saw everyone else’s, we’d take ours back.”

When I share my feelings with Mom or my sisters, I feel like a real bitch. I always end up apologizing because it is difficult to filter my emotions. I’m not looking for answers or solutions. In fact, I know there are no answers or solutions. Sometimes I just need a non-judgmental shoulder to cry on.

Okay, I have two thoughts on sharing, venting, or holding back. One is to do it. The other is don’t.

No one ever got a medal for being the strong, silent type. They don’t hand out trophies for never complaining or asking for help. It makes me so uncomfortable going to a funeral, and the family says, “Oh, she was so selfless. She never complained about

(a) supporting us,

(b) taking care of our father,

(c) giving up her dreams.”

Bullshit! Did anyone ever ask her?

It’s hard for me to admit when I need help. I was raised to be strong and “roll with the punches.” Mom wasn’t a complainer, so I tried not to be. It wasn’t always easy. But seriously, I was learning that complaining and asking for help are two very different things.

Complaining is passive. It puts the listener in a powerless, uncomfortable position. What can they say to make you feel better? Nothing. But explicitly asking for help actively involves them.

“When you go to the grocery store, would you pick up a few things for me?”

“I have a dentist appointment. Would you watch TV with Jack so I can run out?”

At last, there is something constructive they can do to help you. It’s a win-win.

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