Thursday, May 15, 2008


Yesterday was not a good day around here. While I try to avoid bringing that kind of stuff to this site, it holds a larger message.

Charles Eisenstein writes about "The Age of Control", the inherent belief that we have the right to control everything, that nothing should ever inconvenience us or irritate us. It's an extension of the belief that we are separate from nature and that means we have a right to control it for our convenience and benefit. That's the larger picture.

In the small frame, yesterday provided me with a lesson about control. Here's just an overview of what occurred around here.

1) My email was broken all day. Couldn't get my mail to work so I had to spend all my time tracking and trying to make sure things got where they were supposed to go. For the most part, nothing went where it was supposed to go which means I had to keep trying and trying again, only to find out wires were still crossed.

2) Some strange guy came in off the street and for a fleeting moment, I believed we were experiencing a home invasion. The guy finally left and we're okay.

3) Thieves came by during the night and stole two huge potted plants from the front of the house. My housemate was bereft and complaining all day

4) My housemate called her son and discovered he is drinking again. He was drunk by 9.00 a.m.

5) For some unfathomable reason, my housemate believes that I want to hear all about it ~ and not only that, I am supposed to come up with answers to her questions,

6) I could not do one thing without her interrupting me which occurs a lot. One day I counted how many times she interrupts me in a day and it was nearly 20. It doesn't matter if I am reading, on the Internet, gardening or anything else. If I'm present, I am interruptible.

7) One of my housemate's son's friends decided that I needed to be his counselor. I was sitting in the back yard with a book and he interrupted me to tell me all of his issues with women. Every other word started with an 'eff' or "em eff". He told me that when he takes out women, he expects them to "give it up" right away before he takes them out so that he'll know it's "worth my time". Needless to say, he got a severe talking-to from me. I'm at least 20 years older than him and I talked to him as though I am 20 years older than him.

All of these things combined caused me to have something I haven't had in a long time - and that is a panic attack. My head began to pound and the shaking started. The chest pains started. I was short of breath. I really thought my head was going to explode. I couldn't take one. more. thing. No more chaos. No more negativity. No more whining from my housemate. No more frustration from the email. Seriously. I was at the end of my personal rope and there was nothing left to tie a knot.

But... all boiled down.. it was me trying to control my environment. I so needed to control it that I went into my room and shut the door for the remainder of the day. I didn't check my email or talk to anyone in the house.

I needed.. that control.

Somehow I need to learn to roll with these things a bit more - to not get so upset that I am having physical reactions to it.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about control... and how much you deal with frustration. It seems to be the weakest link in my personal chain. Frustration.. and my life is, if nothing else, rather consistently frustrating.

So... that's what I'd like to discuss for the weekend. (I will not be posting again until next week.) What are your thoughts on coping with frustration?



Mariposa said...

Chani, love the new look of your blog!

I have my not good moments right now as well...and I'm not just in control in any of it...I'm trying to though...*sigh*

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The strange guy who wandered in probably also stole the potted plants, but that's not the serious issue here.

Your housemate is a shit-seeking missile, as I've said before. Her extreme negativity expects and therefore attracts bad occurrences, and because she is a selfish person who doesn't seem to learn from her own problems, she puts them all on you.

We all need some control over our environment. To say that we don't is to say that we are corks on the ocean, and I believe that we are more than that.

Your soul is screaming out for peace while your body lives in a place that has none. The solution is to move. Your housemate has no respect for your privacy or peace of mind, and since you can't change her, you need to change the place where you live.

That household does not exemplify Western culture. It exemplifies a very messed-up version of it, as every family has its own dynamic. You have placed yourself in a particularly unhealthy situation which would stress out the Dalai Lama, and until that changes, your stress level will not.

I hope you are able to move soon because until you do, you will not be living on all cylinders, and that is a terrible waste. I wish you better than that, as you deserve.

Anonymous said...

twofold: I either need to let go of something, or I am overwhelmed and I need to break down what needs to be done into parts small enough for me to handle.

slouching mom said...

re number two, chani, that's very frightening. i'm glad nothing came of it.

when i'm frustrated, i first get angry. i have quite a temper. luckily, very soon i realize how futile anger is and manage to laugh at myself. once i'm calm, i'm usually able to approach the problem from a different angle -- which, if it doesn't solve what's frustrating me, at least gets me some of the way toward a solution.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

You know, I totally understand about the need to control your environment. I suspect everyone struggles with that to some degree. And you're right, there are things within our environment we just can't control; and to try to do so just causes you pain(stolen plants, or the weather ruining a planned outing, or email/internet/the modern world as we know it).

But I think setting boundaries for those who who take advantage of your good nature is something all together different.

You seem like a kind hearted person, and it sounds like your roommate takes advantage of that to use you as her own personal sounding board. Maybe by setting boundaries with her would help with your own feelings of frustrations. At least if there are predetermined "rules about personal space and time", when she crosses those lines, you can feel okay about calling her on it.

Not that Im that great at it either. I just like to give advice that I couln't possibly apply to my own life. :)

Defiantmuse said...

I am in the same exact place at the moment. It's funny, I was actually gathering thoughts very similar to post this morning and read this post here and nearly fell out of my chair.

I have no helpful suggestions because I'm struggling myself. I do want to say, however, that I feel you and wish you luck.

Olivia said...

Hi, Chani,

I am sorry to hear about your struggles, and I can empathize, as I thrive in an environment where I can have a lot of peace and privacy and a minumum of interruptions or distractions. Take me out of that and I start to wither, and eventually would probably dry up. You sound very dry, and I wish you much watering in whatever way you decide you need it.

I know that one of my problems with my seminar is this idea of control. They went through many exercises that were pretty comprehensive to establish and maintain control over us as a group. I just hated that. I resisted it. It made me want to rebel.

I don't like it when I feel like others are controlling me, or when I can't establish enough control to get my needs met.

It sounds to me as if your body/system is rebelling against things that a part of you is wanting to still handle, or thinking that you should handle.

Anyway, I so struggle with this. I sort of envied the Indians who can sit on their haunches, who are comfortable being pressed closely together physically, who responded in unison as required, who "threw their intellect out the window" as ordered, and who almost seemed to worship our leader. They were happy to give up control. They didn't have needs like I did.

I am convinced, though, that whatever culture I'd be in, even an idyllic one, part of the enjoyment of it for me would be me being able to be ME---which does necessitate a lot of alone time. I can't process things without it and my brain and body short circuit.

I guess I'm saying that I have needs, and a certain amount of control is one of those things. It's about time for me to admit it, accept it, and go on about my life owning it, not feeling badly about myself because I am unable to "fit in" or be like others whom I respect, or meet the needs of everyone I want to.

I'm sure you do too. And we have a right to have needs. I know I take a lot of criticism for being who I am and maybe you do too, but I look forward to the day when I can just be me and not let what others think upset me so much. Even when the "others" is some weird parental voice from the past or our nasty spouse or a dysfunctional friend or roommate. I know you know all this probably better than me...

It's what I think about your situation. You sound like you need some peace, and this is what I wish for you---that you get it---SOON!

Love and Peace,


Anvilcloud said...

When you're frustrated about something that happened in the past, even ten minutes ago, you are living in the past.

Also ... say to yourself, "This too shall pass." It shall.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'd be tempted to sit down with said housemate and explain that you have a problem with being interrupted all the time and try to figure out a way you can set boundaries together. I have to do this with some frequency with my son and DH, as they both love chaos and I need more order.

I just try to make sure that I don't put it as either of our needs being the more important - just different.

Say It said...

I have to maintain a certain level of control in my life or I lose it. I get very frustrated when things go off course. I've worked so hard to be flexable and bendy and not stress. But there are days I just can't.

Amy Y said...

Oh wow ~ that was a tough day. It was tough to hear about it...

I have a hard time dealing with frustration... Mostly it helps to "get it out" ~ by venting to my husband or on my blog. Sometimes another point of view is just what I need to solve the problems that I do have control over.

I hope this week is going better for you...

And I love the new look of your blog!

Julie Pippert said...

De stole my answer.

But, sometimes, in order to get to that place, I need to feel a little in control.

So I have these things I do that make me feel in control, and they really vary because the circumstances of what's going on and how I need to feel in control vary.


Health. Am in bad down spiral on health condition. Need to feel in control of health. Am out of control of trying to control health.

I will give myself a sick day, or a sick period of time, LOL. I will eat VERY healthy, do some exercise, and relax...out of the house (my place of work and major source of stress, often).

Things beyond my control, such as worried about jobs I applied for and money needed.

I will rearrange my house or clean it. Fold laundry.

These things can give me peace if I do them mindfully. I am clarifying in my mind what I can and can't control and working through some letting go.

Gets me in a better frame of mind to handle the real issue.

So that's me.

And if I could, I'd pack your boxes and move you someplace better myself. In lieu, glad you got some peace.

Dandelion seeds said...

I dunno-I am learning about letting go of the uge to control too. And I'm in the phase where when the urge comes up, I give myself a reminder, an affirmation and try to move on.

but I also think sometimes, we can decide that while we can't control people, we can decide not to be around them.

great post.

painted maypole said...

i find that i sometimes need to do what you did, which is step away, be alone, take deep breaths, etc. but I'm not very good at it either. fortunately, I do bounce back fairly quickly, but I think that's just always been my personality.

and GOOD FOR YOU giving that guy a good talking to. as if he expected anything else after revealing to you what an "em effing" CAD he is.

Stephen Newton said...

Hi, whenever I'm faced with your situation, I ask myself what those people are teaching me. That changes the perspective from: "They're driving me crazy" to: "They're helping me." Control is what the ego does to us. I can't control all the things that happen inside me, the body just does it. It's the same outside. It just happens. We have no idea what the big picture is. The secret to enlightenment is ACCEPTANCE and NON-JUDGEMENT.


Anonymous said...

Chani - I LOVE the new look!

I have a lot of control issues, which is one of the reasons I live alone. I am with the others who have mentioned hopefully you can move soon.

As for dealing with frustration - sometimes I am better at it than others, but I really just take deep breaths and ask myself if it will matter a week from now. If not, I *try* to let it go...

we_be_toys said...

Man I hate it when folks think its a-ok to just walk up and steal your stuff - gets me all vigilante.

I don't know the relationship between you and your housemate, but personal privacy is important to one's ability to de-compress and think. You may have to have a "come to jesus" meeting on that girl, because everybody needs their own space.

How do I deal with frustration? Hmmm, not always with grace, I must admit, but generally, even if I do have to blow, I'm a solution person, and I'm big on resolution. Things up in the air make me stressed, and then I'm grinding my teeth, and THEN I'm going to the dentist with pain, so no stress for me. Stuff has to be resolved or "I can't get no satisfaction" - or something like that!

I think you need a vacation from your housemate and her baggage, because it sounds like there's no end in sight. Don't you want to live on the east coast?!

CS said...

I don't know the background here, but is moving out or getting a new roommate an option?

I'm pretty variable on how I handle frustration. Sometimes things really don't faze me at all. But more often, I'm afraid, I either quietly seethe or snap at people. I've always been a hothead.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I deal with it badly. And you CANNOT always control a 3.5 year old. He invades my space, good though he is. ANd I must remind myself that he is just being his age.

Angela said...

Well, I know panic attacks. They are infrequent anymore, but I'm currently experiencing waves of them, and I know that it is because I am angry and feeling trapped. It's about the past for me. I wish that I had answers or something helpful to share. In my case, I know that when this happens, I need to move myself out of the situation I am in. This can be very frustrating. I look around me and see others who are able to tolerate difficult situations and toxic environments far better than I am. Whenever I feel used, taken advantage of, lied to or mistreated, I work hard to find a resolution and to handle things honestly. When that doesn't work, I have to get out. I know this sounds like health, and I guess that it is, but I wish I could just be less sensitive. Because change isn't easy for me either ; )

RKK said...

I agree with helps me very much to remind myself that everything is temporary. I keep that in the forefront of my mind as much as possible.

Another thing that helps me is to be aware that nothing is ever as it seems.

Anonymous said...

And here I was all venty n'stuff today. (I did not curse out of deference to you but it was not easy. :)

Frustration, you say? I do what I can to "be" with it and not react 1-2-3. That's first on the agenda. After that, I probably allow myself to release as much of the emotional residue as possible because I know this stuff haunts if not released.

Then I do the mental work: self-talk. You know, "Wendy, stay in the present moment, slow this waaaaaaay down." And on and on.

Very important for me to remember I can "control" the speed of the process, if nothing else, and that can be an amazing grace in its own right.

Methinks anxiety/panic = stuffed anger.
Get that garbage whatever way works for you.


Anonymous said...

Oh, forgot to say this iportant piece for me: slowing down allows turbulent surface waters to settle so I can see to the bottom...of the frustration and take action accordingly.

Yes, that is key.

womaninawindow said...

Oh, I'm ridiculous. When I'm anything, sad, angry, tired, sick, blah blah I cry. Overwhelmed=cry. I really dislike this. It's not that I cry a lot. I don't actually get overwhelmed all that often but especially when I'm confronted about my feelings...I cry. Yikes. Usually I am ok not being in control, so losing it is ok, too.

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jen said...

that sounds very difficult. removing yourself from the situation makes so much sense.

i am frustrated all the time, mostly at work, mostly over things that are affecting peoples lives that don't need to be. i can't shut down and yet a part of me wants to hide every day.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

The concept of "The Age of Control" seems to be the exact opposite of the theology I was taught in seminary: we can really control very little and are always vulnerable.

As the child of an alcoholic, I grew up having a powerful need to be in control. I was in my late forties before I understood and accepted the reality of the theology I was taught in seminary.

What you experienced in all of those events is what we called SNAFU when I was an army officer.

Angela said...

Here's hoping that you are feeling more at peace this week. {{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}

I totally understand the "not one more thing" feeling. It's hard!

As to control, I've found that the times I have felt most frustrated are when I am not claiming the power that I *do* have (i.e. not to listen to people who are taking far more than they are giving -- emotional vampires, etc.). When I feel like I don't have control, I get horribly depressed.

On the other hand, I think that a lot of our feelings of control are just illusory.

Feeling stuck is no good, though. I hope a way to help you embrace your power shows up soon. xoxoxox