I spend a lot of time with men in psychological settings. Whilst this does not translate to my dating endeavours, I do spend a lot of time helping them with emotions. I heard a young man scream out a “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW” and a “We are off like bad breath” (ok well he didn’t really say that last bit, it was much worse, but for fear of offending minority groups I cannot repeat it). As he yelled this out on a plane that I was on last week as it left the tarmac, I knew straight away this guy was struggling massively with anxiety. He was sitting right behind me and I could feel it his anxiety through the back of my seat. I didn’t even need to look at him.
My ‘man whispering’ vibes were confirmed when I then heard him lurch “farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk” as the plan turned and then he attempted to order four cans of bourbon from the air hostess during service. He was a young bloke (early 20s I later heard him say). He was seated next to a much older bloke, who I think could sense the same thing that I could. But what I witnessed during the rest of the plane trip was how men support men. I must say it was a bloody interesting conversation to say the least. It went a bit like this…. Lets call plane anxiety man Fearful Frank…. So Fearful Frank comments; “Yeahhhhh mate, I bloody hate planes ay”…. And lets call his supportive seat buddy Supportive Steve, so Supportive Steve responds: “Ah dont worry about it mate once we are in the air you won’t feel a thing”. And that was it, after this exchange they were ‘best mates’.
I heard them talking about football and ‘sinking cans’, partying in Surfers (mind you Supportive Steve was in his late 50s but I think he was channeling his younger days). Fearful Frank disclosed he had just “broken up with his Mrs” and his plane journey was a spontaneous last ditch effort to make himself feel better. Supportive Steve encouraged Fearful frank’s effort to make himself feel better, plus gave him some tips on the best sports bars and where to catch cabs from. Whilst they were totally avoidant of expressing any uncomfortable emotion, despite Fearful Frank often referring to some highly emotional disclosures, Supportive Steve was so helpful to youngster Fearful Frank that it gave me hope.
My hope is that men can start to support men in more emotionally open ways. To make it ok to talk about feeling sad, or anxious. Fearful Frank’s “faaaaaaaaaaaark” was really man code for “I am so overwhelmed and anxious right now I don’t know how to contain myself”. But Supportive Steve got it, and was able to provide Fearful Frank with 2 hours of distraction and exhilarating conversations about football and stubbies. I loved listening to their conversation evolve and become more mate-like over those two hours. Fearful Frank told Supportive Steve that he had already had a number of vodka shots at the airport in trying to calm his fear of flying, plus about his family on the Gold Coast and how he loved his concreting job. Supportive Steve was a baker and had been all his life. They bonded over ‘hard yakka’ and poor football team performance. This was man code for; “Its ok mate, I am here for you”.
So as I laughed and chuckled in my plane seat, I felt privileged to eaves drop upon the “emotional man conversations” in witnessing one man soothe another in the most unconventional ‘manly way’. But one thing that shocked me in reflecting afterwards was how easily I was able to decode all their conversations to uncover the real meaning behind a lot of what they were sharing with each other from an emotional perspective. Psych Chrissy had become a ‘Manglish’ Interpreter. You’d freakin hope so with how much time I spend talking about emotions within the prison setting. My message to the men out there is it is ok to share how you are feeling, in whatever may you can manage. Just get it out. Don’t hold it in. Whilst you may not have the opportunity to have a snoopy Manglish Interpreter within earshot, there is likely to be someone around who will listen. I say this as our local community centre recently looking for representatives from local sporting clubs to receive Mental Health Training. Both men and women in the local community need this support. However, also with the local spate of male suicides, I will be gunning for these sporting groups to provide delegates to increase the likelihood that congregations of men receive the support they need during hard times. To ensure its not just all about “stubbies and poor football performance”.
So lets get this Mental Health Support ‘Training’ Party started Sunbury!!
Your leading Manglish Interpreter
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