Life with a smile: The healing power of the whine

Published 9:32 am Friday, May 15, 2020


Community columnist

I’ve come to the realization that sometimes, you just need a good whine. Please note the “h.” This isn’t a story about cabernet sauvignon. I rarely drink and it took me six tries plus Google to spell cabernet sauvignon correctly. 

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No, I’m talking about whining. Grousing. Complaining. Whingeing That’s a personal favorite, although spellcheck doesn’t think one should try to add an ‘ing.’ 

As I have said previously, this coronavirus-homeschooling-social-distancing-teleworking stuff is hard. Really, really hard.

We’ll get through this together, but sometimes you just need to whine. There are days when the only reasonable response to the tsunami of disappointment that is Spring 2020 is to throw yourself onto the ground and kick your feet for a while. Whether that tantrum is metaphorical or literal is mostly determined by your age. My kids actually fling themselves to the ground. I am more inclined to stay upright, but have been known to stamp my feet and shriek – yes, even as a grown woman. 

I recently spent an hour on the phone with a high school girlfriend and most of that time was devoted to venting. There is no summer childcare. All the camps are closed. Homeschooling is misery. My much-anticipated family reunion has been cancelled. The dog has decided that children on bicycles might be armed robbers in disguise and barks like a psychopath and it’s making me crazy. Mother Nature is kicking us when we’re down by freezing all the spring plants. My children are manifesting their stress through constant, high-octane jerkiness. If one more person greets my home cooking with gagging sounds, I am running away to join the circus. 

And that was just my half of the conversation. 

Sometimes, you have to get it off your chest. Another friend of mine now curates a weekly “whine post” on her Facebook page where, on Fridays, everyone is invited to share something that is making their life difficult. It can be big or small. Existential or practical. There is no judgment, and problem-solving is not encouraged. No one is told to buck up or look on the bright side or seek the silver linings. She simply loves each post, affirms that our whine is valid, and expresses support.

I tell you, that woman is doing the Lord’s work. 

I’m not being facetious. The biblical authors knew that there was power in collective wallowing. There’s an entire book of the Bible devoted to it. “Lamentations” is named that for a reason! When the hurt feels overwhelming, the only way to manage it is to weep with friends. 

There are worse things in the world than telecommuting and picky eaters. I understand that. Truly, I do. I acknowledge that my experience – with all its challenges – is wrapped in layer upon layer of privilege. But the hurt is still real. And it is valid. 

This is a difficult season. There’s power in acknowledging that fact. Just saying it out loud can sometimes ease the tightness in my chest and create room for more positive thoughts. After a thunderstorm, the world is temporarily clean and fresh. 

So, we lament and we whine and we cry on the phone with our best friends. Because that’s what you do when the world is broken. And then we pull ourselves together and make dinner. Because that’s how you get through it.