One of the most difficult emotions I have to deal with on a daily basis is FRUSTRATION. Don’t we all?

In my previous life (pre-accident) there was nothing more liberating than slamming a door. In fact, there is no better release than slamming a car door and roaring off even if it is just to come to a screeching halt at the very next intersection a few meters away. The intensity of the emotion added to the adrenaline of being reckless and irresponsible for a brief moment behind the wheel of a powerful engine can give one such a sense of conviction – just enough to not feel defeated by anyone or anything. Yeah! Oh how I long to do that sometimes. This wheelchair is just too damn slow.

I have never been a violent person. I’ve never thrown a glass at someone or emptied a plate of unappreciated food over their head. Although, now I sometimes wish I had. Opportunities missed.

In years gone by, I may have washed the dishes a little roughly. Ok perhaps I did break a glass or two in the kitchen sink and promptly burst into tears. At times I stomped my feet indignantly like a real spoilt brat and stormed off afterwards. As if running away has ever solved any problems?

But sometimes there is a real need to remove oneself from an angry situation even if it’s temporarily. When things got really rough emotionally, I used to put my running shoes on and go for a long, hard run. The sweat seemed to dissolve those destructive emotions – frustration, irritation, anger, fury, rage – emotions we all feel at one time or another – they permeated my skin and simply evaporated.

Strenuous aerobic exercise always had the ability to clear my head. It could calm me down and bring about some rational thought – Yes guys I said rational – that is despite being a woman. Perhaps the burn in my lungs and the pain in my muscles helped me to refocus – and redirect – that negative energy. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it was – it worked – at the time. These days I think I get enough exercise by just pushing my luck.

I am – and always have been – a little bit of a control freak and a real perfectionist. I have never been a good delegator and always preferred to do things myself. I have struggled to retrain my brain. How does one change one’s personality?

 It is frustrating being so physically dependent on other people to do absolutely everything for me. Sometimes, I feel as if I literally want to explode. It’s as if that frustration boils inside of me sometimes and I do not know how to get rid of it. For me, frustration can be so intensified at times as there is just no outlet – except for my mouth. I think my poor care assistants bear the brunt of my frustration most of the time. I have to be careful though as I cannot go around verbally abusing the very people I rely on. But I’m not perfect and sometimes I do let rip – choice language, rolling eyes and pulling of faces. Freak show of note! Sigh!

I’m not a nasty person by nature so I often end up being left with deep feelings of guilt. It’s tough!

Needless to say, I’ve learned the art of effective and sincere apologizing. I’ve learned to (mostly) bite my tongue. I have to do it so often that it’s a wonder I still have any tongue left! I have also learned to become more patient and more understanding. I have learned some valuable life lessons.

It’s amazing how little things can build up – but compounded over a period of time – can literally cause the lid to flip. It drives me insane if my pictures on my walls are not aligned or hanging skew. There is nothing more irritating than that telephone that rings right next to me and I cannot answer it. The breeze that annoyingly blows my hair into my face, into my eyes and into my mouth and I cannot get it out. The lazy fly that incessantly flies into my face and sits on my lips is enough to go mad. The itch on the head or the drip of the nose can bring tears of frustration at times. The list… goes on… and on!

Added to all of that is the continual frustration of making myself understood – endless explanations of what I want, when I want and how I want – complicated by the fact that my care assistants speak Siswati – a language I am desperately trying to learn. Although I doubt I have enough brain cells left at this age.

Inherently most people use their hands in an explanation or when giving direction.  As a born teacher we tend to use our fingers to point in order to direct the other’s eyes. These days I have to tell people to follow my eyes. It’s like trying to get someone to focus on the same leaf I have spotted in a canopy of trees.

After yet another frustrating morning I opened my e-mails to find this joke. It gave me such a good chuckle and I could not resist sharing it. I know that it is a little naughty but I trust that you will take it in good spirit. The joke not only appeals to my sense of humour but I can seriously relate to it. Especially in my situation, instructions are so often lost in translation. I ask for X and I get Y.  Ugh!!!

Black Testicles

A male patient is lying in bed in the hospital, wearing an
oxygen mask over his mouth and nose.

A young, student nurse appears to give him a partial sponge bath.

“Nurse”, he mumbles, from behind the mask. “Are my testicles black?”

Embarrassed, the young nurse replies, “I don’t know,
Sir. I’m only here to wash upper body and feet.”

He struggles to ask again, “Nurse, are my testicles black?”

Concerned that he may elevate his blood pressure and heart rate from worry about his testicles, she overcomes her embarrassment and pulls back the covers.

She raises his gown, holds his manhood in one hand and his testicles in the other. Then, she takes a close look and says,

“There’s nothing wrong with them, Sir!”

The man pulls off his oxygen mask, smiles at her and says very slowly, “Thank you very much. That was wonderful, but, listen very, very closely……

A r e – m y – t e s t – r e s u l t s – b a c k?

 Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!

I have learned that the best medicine to ease any negative emotion and most especially frustration is humour. In order to cope I had to learn, very quickly, to laugh at myself and with others. I believe you grow up the day that you have your first real laugh – at yourself.

I’ve noticed that some of my social networking friends don’t hold back in expressing their daily frustration. I love it when they share this because it makes me feel so much more normal and not so alone.

I’ve learned that acting out in anger and frustration has the potential to be so destructive. With time I came to realize that sometimes the most valuable time of the day is the time spent between two long deep breaths. It has been said that much of life’s success is based on frustration. In that case, I think I can live with a little less success. Chuckle!

What do you think?

About Tracy Todd (Brave Lotus Flower)

Author of Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon – an intimate and inspiring memoir of a quadriplegic. Inspirational Speaker. Teacher. Counsellor. Wife. Mother. Animal lover. Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly not what defines me.
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15 Responses to Frustration

  1. Bill Watson says:

    Humor is the only way to get through a lot of things.

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  4. Flutter says:

    Hey Tracy, another very cool blog. Frustration and our ability to manage it is so key in all our relationships. So very often I would like to take back teh things I have said and done in frustration.

    Thanks for the funny!! :-))

  5. Pingback: Frustrated days can be the base for beautiful recipes. « The Manly Housewife

  6. Thanks Tracy for making me laugh. A great relief of frustration. I just found your blog and will be following it now. Thank you!

  7. This is a beautifully written piece, Tracy. Thank you for sharing your unique and personal perspective on a universal phenomenon. I will think of your words next time frustration threatens to topple me.

  8. Ronna says:

    So deeply grateful for your words, your emotions, your heart – and your willingness/ability to express them all. Yes, including frustration! Beautifully written, Tracy; more beautifully lived.

  9. shael says:

    Hi Tracy.. I shall have a really good chuckle next time my eyes roll with frustration and my face shows annoyance! It will make me think of you. Unfortunately my fuse is often too short and I have to admire you for trying to bite your tongue! Mine is already far too full of holes. You inspire me with each piece that you write. Il feel such empathy for you having to experience so much more frustration daily than we ever could imagine. Good luck with learning the new language .. challenges challenges and more challenges for you and yet you keep going with love in your heart and a sense of humour nogal!

  10. Sharon Eden says:

    Hi Tracy…

    And I came across you via Colin! Appreciate your gutsy honesty and a heartfelt post on frustration… Thank you!

  11. Colin says:

    Hi Tracy,
    I came across you by complete (and happy) accident – Ok, Clive posted this link in FB 😉 – not so much of an accident!
    Thanks for the perspective adjustment. A lovely piece, thank you for making the effort.

  12. As always, you *so* succinctly sum up what we all go through. Except that your frustrations must be amplified by the power of 10 if not more (always was an ass at Maths!). This is *yet* another section of the wonderful book we’re expecting from you! And hey – loved the joke. You have the clinic address?;-)

  13. Gavin says:

    Hiya Tracy. What you say is so true, that build up of little frustrations can cause one to want to dance a jig sometimes. Everybody finds their own way to relieve frustration, and laughter is certainly a great way to do exactly that! I shall forthwith stockpile jokes for forwarding, keep them in a de-stress folder and use sparingly 🙂

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