The Fiery Fallout of the Final Straw! When an incident pushes you over the precipice of anxiety and sends you plummeting to the pits of…enlightenment and gratitude.
Setting yourself up for a nose dive
There is no such thing as a mentally stable person. We are all a shower of nutters as far as I’m concerned. It’s just that some of us are better than others at avoiding situations where the madness comes out.
I’m solid useless in this regard. If there is pressure or anxiety to be had, I’ll inadvertently find it and I seem to be doing an especially good job of sending myself off my rocker recently.
The trouble with being a bit of a clown under normal circumstances is that it becomes the least that people expect from you. However, no matter how jovial or thick skinned a person is, there are rare occasions where they are not.
Every human being has their stresses and burdens and no one is exempt from a shitty day, week, month or year. There will be a time in everyone’s life where they just need to focus all of their attention on staying upright and coping.
I am a talkaholic. Everyone who knows me expects to hear me before they see me. I interpret the ‘Quiet Carriage’ sign on the train and the ‘Silence Please’ sign at the library as ‘Whisper’.
I am usually smiling and it is genuine. I like to feel and act happy. However, I’m not an around the clock cheerleader. I suppose I’m 95% Susie Sunshine, 4% Father Stone and 1% Janet Street Porter.
When people with firm boundaries and more subdued personalities show up straight faced and silent, no one asks any questions. They are “obviously having a bad day” or “who knows?”
I am currently trying to overcome some pretty significant personal hurdles – one or two of which are overwhelming and often dumbfounding. This week, I have been less like myself.
I have avoided anyone who asks too many questions, makes too much noise or demands more of me than is currently available. Father Stone is in situ.
The trouble with being human
I don’t blame them or myself. Life is a bit of a mindf**k at times and often there isn’t enough time or opportunities to give individual explanations. As my aunt used to say, “Those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter”
So how did Father Stone lose the plot and end up in an emotional heap before the working day even began? I returned a phone call.
Anyone who has plodded through a life crisis will relate to the compulsive need to keep everything simple and predictable. When under pressure, we shield our minds from other outside influences and disruptions by avoiding them.
I made what I expected to be a simple, routine and non eventful call to a friend this morning.
“Those who expect nothing are never disappointed”
– My Aunt Jo
The problem with expecting things to go a certain way is that they never do. Everyone is handling their own agenda and their view depends entirely on where they are sitting.
From where I sat, my last encounter with my friend and those around us had been a personal triumph.
I had overcome a difficult day, moved past my own issues, insecurities and personal problems and the entire evening had been a success. I had spoken to people, held my countenance and things had moved along nicely.
From her seat, yes, I was having a bad week but I had been aloof and offensive to such a degree that it was necessary to address it with me.
So…I lost the plot.
I love words. I never struggle to express myself. However, on this occasion, I don’t have a word to sum up the surge in anger, frustration, distress, sadness and pure, raw, certifiable madness that I experienced on the street this morning.
My family would describe me as a hippy dippy, happy-go-lucky pushover. My husband constantly jokes that I possess the breaking strain of a wet tea bag in terms of saying no to people.
However, this morning, all I wanted to do is lay my weary and burning hot face on the cold pavement and scream like a toddler. I wanted to cover my ears and roar, “BE QUIET! GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!”
As a residential care worker, I watched teenagers make crumbs of ornaments and property, smash car windows, rip pictures off the wall, kick doors in and bawl their discontent. It always seemed like an extreme reaction to a minor problem.
For the first time in my life, I think I truly understood the compulsion to behave in that manner. I was so tempted to completely unleash. It would be so liberating.
I didn’t. As I said, life is chaotic enough right now without adding a criminal damage charge to my problems.
After about 20 seconds of shouting my indignation down the phone and realising how redundant that was, I hung up.
On a really funny note, during my tirade, I had heard the person at the end of the line say, “Hold on”
Isn’t it funny the things we come out with during conflict?
“Hold on” is up there with “Calm down” in terms of quenching someone’s rage, It’s like throwing a litre of brandy on it. I’ve never heard anyone respond to “Hold on” with “Do excuse me for a minute while I catch a grip…Yes…There we go. Please do continue”.
I proceeded to work and didn’t stop until I was just outside. I sat back on my haunches, head in my hands and took gasping breaths.
I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve really lost my temper so I found it extremely hard to pull it back and control the sudden flux of emotions. I feel sorry for habitual hotheads. It must be bloody horrible feeling like this frequently.
Shaking hands, racing pulse, roaring temperature, shallow breath, panic, tears and a whole plethora of shite that I felt I could really have done without right now effected my senses.
I can totally appreciate how people lose their minds. After all, isn’t our mind our biggest enemy when we are in a personal pickle? I don’t know why people use the term “out of your mind”. We are generally at our worst when we are too much in it.
Hindsight is 20/20 Vision
I’m a big advocate for forgiveness. Forgiveness of others and forgiving ourselves are equally vital on my list of priorities. I’m not angry with the person who was at the other end of the call.
I can’t expect people to prioritise my concerns over theirs’ no matter how significant they seem to me. In hindsight, I should have known that there was some issue because people don’t usually request a call unless that’s the case.
I should have explained that I wasn’t up to sorting through personal stuff until things had settled and communicated that I needed to hang up and be in touch at a less hectic time.
I’m not angry with myself either because at the end of the day, we can’t always get it right. Our mistakes and misjudgments are how we learn and improve.
In the midst of all the drama and adversity, I remain secure in the knowledge that my thoughts and intentions are always kind and that any negative reactions are merely that and have a context.
“You’d do well to mind your own household”
– My father
Nobody is in the wrong. Sometimes people just can’t be the person that the other needs them to be. There are times in everyone’s life where selfishness isn’t an innate personality flaw. It is a necessary and valid choice that they have had to make in order to keep going.
This might not be convenient or agreeable to those associated with you and there will be fallout which is unfortunate but inevitable. If items don’t fall out of an overloaded wagon, the wheels are going to come off anyway and nobody is going anywhere.
Historically, I have always found space for other people’s items on my wagon but right now I am at capacity but very determined to make it to my destination. There are lots of other vehicles out there and all I can do for now is wish everyone else a safe and pleasurable journey.
“This wasn’t meant to be no sad song. We’ve heard too much of that before. Right now I only want to be here with you…” – Paul Brady
On a happy note (because there is always a happy note), the tears that ensued when the rage had dissipated were not ones of sadness or defeat. They were a manifestation of my gratitude for those who have weathered my changing mood and relentless schedule.
As distant and distracted as I’ve become, I’m ever aware of my good fortune in terms of friendship. There are too many unconditionally accepting, forgiving, positive and helpful friends and family to count.
My husband (who is a saint) often asks me where and how I get the energy to keep ploughing on. I always think it is ironic that he is the one to ask because he is in fact the main facilitator of my limitless energy and drive. He tries to make everything possible and makes me giggle when it isn’t.
He and a group of our mutual friends are responsible for my every victory and dilute my personal adversity. This morning was a bad morning in what will hopefully be a good day in a very lovely life.