Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Life in Exile: A Little Muse on That Thing We Call… Frustration

I have heard it said that unhappiness is when your expectations do not match up with reality. OK, fair enough. If that is so then frustration is when reality does not match up with reality. What I mean to say is, generally when we are frustrated it is with something/one (OK, let’s face it, usually it’s a ‘one’) outside of ourselves. If we are to get to the crux of true frustration, as opposed to say, a temper tantrum, it would be when your reality does not match up with the reality of that thing with which you are frustrated.

A phrase sprung to my mind upon hearing of the demise of Elizabeth Edwards, the much suffering-with-grace-and-a-good-publisher wife of former VP candidate John Edwards: Don’t be too OK with things, it might not actually do you any good.

In the long run, I was meaning, you know with the cancer and all. So in the long run, squashing your feelings and taking that trip down denial you’ve been dreaming of may not be such a good plan. But I wish to posit here that faced with untenable frustration, a little jaunt on a cruise boat down denial – weather permitting – could be just what the doctor ordered. Just make sure you get off at the next stop. Not getting off is what I suspect leads to high valium and other recreational/FLIPPING NECESSARY drug and alcohol use by wives, harried parents, harried assistants, etc.

Such as not enough time. Your reality is that you need to get X done, but the T available is not adequate to complete X, ergo X/T – T = F. You follow?

Or when you need a youngster to do her homework. Said youngster does not want to do her homework, did not read the cost/benefit analysis memo you put together for her, and can’t envision being held back in 1st grade and is therefore not freaking out as adequately, as say, a harried parent might.

There is also the usual partner frustration. You have relationship need, let’s call it R, and partner doesn’t care/notice/see what’s the big deal/is incapable of providing. You try to reason with partner, “I really need R!” P agrees to ‘get right on it’, forgets. So see, Self as reliant on Partner for Relationship success often leads to the dreaded Frustration. Or this equation can be expressed as: S + P/R = F

Or just go to work, oh anywhere really, and find a numbskull, add a task that needs to be accomplished alongside said numbskull and there you go. Instant frustration!

Or the frustration of exile let’s say. Want career. No career to be had in area of your exile. OK, settle for decent job. No decent job to be had in area of your exile. OK, don’t have to tell me twice, change tack, head Self on different career path. No, different career also not available in area of your exile. Alright bloody fine! Learn to be OK with family life. Family life rife with above frustrations.


“Someone hand mama her pills!”… repeat mantra of “At least the kids are in a good school, at least the kids are in a good school…” as often as needed, take two glasses of wine, and try not to be OK with it in the morning.

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