The Goddess Speaks
When balance and control go bust
REGARDLESS of age, income or other demographic denominator, every woman I know yearns for one thing: balance. A fragile equilibrium among kids, husband, work and friends is the grand prize in the great game of womanhood. Other achievements feel like honorable mentions if the scales are tipping off to one side or the other.
"I'm trying to find balance in my life" is a catchphrase we all understand. Perhaps its appeal lies in semantics. Balance sounds so reasonable, so nice, so, ahem, ladylike. But like high heels or a single-digit dress size, balance is precarious. It requires exquisite sensitivity to the needs of the people around us and constant readjustment to circumstances caused by forces beyond our control. Balance is exhausting. I'm tired.
What I really want is control. Control is order, predictability and power. And I know I can't have it. Control is as unrealistic as balance is elusive.
So when life resists all my efforts to shape it into something I want, I can accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things I can, find the wisdom to know the difference, or have a tantrum. I choose the tantrum.
AH, THE delicious emotional forbidden fruits of adulthood. Now let me be clear that I'm not talking about yelling at people. You can't have a completely unrestrained meltdown if you think someone hears you -- someone might take you seriously.
Alone in my bedroom, I surrender to my inner lunatic and fling nasty little shards of emotional shrapnel all over the place. It is liberating. I am frustrated, there's nothing I can do about it and don't I hate it? Yes. Scream.
Tantrums are also efficient. From wind-up to calm-down, they last only about 10 minutes. Let's face it: Nobody has time for a real psychotic break with kids' schedules the way they are nowadays.
Finally, tantrums are effective. Have you ever watched a 2-year-old as a tantrum subsides? His tears stop, his gasping slows to deep, calming breaths, his jaw goes slack, his body relaxes. He feels better.
Tantrums do have their downsides. A tantrum is only a release. It won't give you a better perspective. It's not a solution. Take your tantrum too seriously and you might even make yourself feel worse. If somebody catches you in the midst of one, you'd better have a good explanation. ("I just lost my life savings in Vegas" works. "The kids are driving me nuts, my husband won't pick his dirty shirts up and the cat barfed up a hairball that everyone expects me to clean up" does not work.)
Of course, I'd much rather not have tantrums at all. I suppose I could take up compulsive shopping, eating junk food, or drinking heavily. But when my life spins out of control, or out of balance, I choose the tantrum.
Dawn Yoshimura Sinclair is a Honolulu writer.
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