Frustration is one of those words that is often overused. The F word is often the go to phrase for a mild inconvenience (myself included) but actually this doesn’t even touch the surface.
The dictionary (The Oxford English Living Dictionary, in case you were wondering!) describes frustration as follows:
The feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.
‘tears of frustration rolled down his cheeks’
But for me this description doesn’t even come close to the sheer finger – curling unpleasantness and helplessness that I experience when the world seems out of balance and I just can’t roll with the metaphorical punches.
The only way that I can navigate through the instantaneous draining of positivity, is to let out a stream of consciousness, that once started, cannot be stopped or halted. It’s an insular feeling that I think can only be understood by me. My wife can see this from the outside. She supports and gives me room to verbally tumble around like a drunken badger, without her judgement, but from inside this mess I have no control.
The best way to describe the incapacitation that I feel, to give some context, is when a sad event happens. I have spoken at a couple of funerals in my lifetime. As a trained performer I have managed to pull myself through a flood of emotions and move from start to finish seamlessly. But at my late grandmothers funeral I only made it to the penultimate line. I felt a heat rise within me, a flush of the face, a pull in my cheek bones, a closing of the throat, a sharp intake of breath, and then as quick as a hiccup a grief-filled inability to breath gets moist with tears and raw emotion halts my flow.
Frustration tastes of tears and feels like my insides are bigger than my outsides. It’s a steam train and caboose edging nearer and nearer to the end of the tracks but it’s clear that it’s running out of steam.
My frustration is frustrated further by the fact that I am out of control. It physically hurts and emotionally drains me.
It’s a feeling that my lot in life is pre-determined, so why bother?
It’s simply, that the buggy that I just bought arrived broken, when every review on line was 5*.
It’s that no matter how I feel, i look, I will never stop caring what the person in the street is judging me for. It’s the computer, that never works properly, it’s the 5th time I have to repeat any instruction… this list is endless.
But with all of this comes the big G. The Guilt. That when I am inside a frustrated episode, I cannot see the good and the fortunate position that I am in. It’s hurtful to those around me to hear “why me?” With an attitude of “my life is so rubbish”. When I am really the luckiest guy alive.
Being inside this mess is physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s not the “frustration” of not getting the team that you wanted in the World Cup sweepstake, or missing the train by 30 seconds! It’s a physical battle to hold the tears back with a heartfelt feeling of helplessness.
I’m no doctor or therapist. I just know how I feel and what I can do to continue on over these stumbling blocks. I let my words out on this page, and even if no-one reads them it somehow feels better.
I can focus on being me. Me the dad. Me the husband. Me the guy who is as he is, frustrated or not.