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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Leaving puffs of evil everywhere

I feel like lately I just leave puffs of evil everywhere I go. I have been so unhappy, and it leads to feeling disappointed in everyone and everything. I feel a huge amount of discontent, and I can't shake it.

Here's an example of something that leaves me feeling diappointed and frustrated - thus leading to extreme discontent.

In the class I am taking, we were to turn in a proposal for the paper we wanted to write for the class. We were to explain what we wanted to do, and include a thesis.

I wrote a 1.5 page proposal in which I first described the article I was using as my guiding theory, and what the authors (one of which happens to be me) proposed in the article. I then noted that that theory had implications for another area, and noted those links. I then noted a couple questions I hoped to answer, and then outlined my argument (thesis).

The prof gave it back to me, and here was the feedback:

when I wrote about what the original article proposed, she wrote, "This is a thesis."

then when I noted a few questions I wanted to answer, she wrote "not a thesis!"

and then when I put forth my thesis, she wrote, "This is a thesis."

Ummm.... huh? I know what a thesis is. How about some feedback on the proposal?

I then included a question for her, as I was having trouble finding a specific type of article or source, and asked for some help in locating it. She wrote "I am concerned about how you will find research on this." Duh! That's why I asked for her help!

So I read this and felt wholly frustrated that I got no feedback or help. And that is basically my feeling about everything lately. And I end up getting so frustrated, I can't really contain my emotional reactions, and it just leaks and leaks. And out come the puffs of evil.

After one bout of this this morning in a meeting, the facilitator said, "Is everything okay with everyone? I'm feeling unsettled here." And I knew that was my fault, so I made a joke about it. But I left feeling so badly.

Everywhere I go, I spread my discontent. I try hard to keep it contained, but it leaks out.

There are two areas that are safe from this: every context related to my dissertation (and all the bad feelings associated with that are infecting everything else - which is how it should be, actually) and with my clients.

And I totally know why I am so leaky and so evil - really, quite frankly, things are very very difficult to manage right now. If I can just tow (toe?) the line and keep my nose to the ground and work hard, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I don't really want advice - but if this resonates with you at all, I'd love to hear how you got through it.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger betty said...

When I feel like this (and I have many times) I usually try to not interact with people if possible since that almost always results in me feeling bad about being mean or grumpy. For the times when I have to (or for you like with your classes and meetings) I try to either talk to one person I can trust and ask them for perspective (since I have essentially none in this state) or I make lists. List of stuff - sometimes random stuff sometimes "to do" lists. Or I clean. These things calm me down. I try to give myself permission to do little things I really enjoy (like the crossword) and take it easy on myself. Usually it goes away in a few days, but sometimes it doesn't. Then I have to think lots about what's going on and figure out what it is that is actually bothering me - then I have to either accept that thing or try to find a way to fix it.

You'll get through this, I know you will. I just hope that it doesn't last long!

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Limon de Campo said...

I can relate to this, Shrinky. I get through it by trying to remind myself that it's temporary--I won't always feel this way, it won't always be like this, etc. I can enhance the temporality of the situation by focusing on making plans for future changes; for me, that means saying, "I just have to get through this year, get these things done, and then I'm going to..." I also know that I have a tendency to revel in my own feelings of badness, so I like to find someone who is really well-adjusted and content with his/her life; then I try to imagine myself feeling that way too. I particularly like to surround myself with people who are not like me--my angst almost always revolves around achievement (or lack of it), so I like to have people around me who are content with NOT being ultra superstar scholarly achievers and who are content with themselves, beyond what they do in school/work. I like being reminded that there's life beyond dissertations and tenure-track jobs.

I'm sure all of my strategies are terribly unhealthy, but that's what I do.

I hope things get better for you!

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I know that leaky feeling. It's awful. Feelings are up and they won't go back down.

Is there anyone you can just sit and feel leaky with? Just sit with them, tell them how you're feeling, and let yourself leak until the floodgates open. When I'm in your position, I need to scream, fight, rage or really really cry. And I don't mean polite tears. I mean the kind where you're afraid you'll wake the neighbors. I'd be willing to listen to you any time.

Barring that, the only thing that helps me is very very vigorous exercise to exhaustion. Punching or boxing (or a cardio version of that, like cardio kickboxing), lifting weights until my limbs are rubbery, whatever I can think of.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger BrightStar said...

This totally resonates with me. I am not doing a good job getting through it. Hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel helps, like you suggest. Actually, this sounds bad, but I have to honestly say purposefully blowing a thing or two off (such as rescheduling or bowing out of some committee meeting... I know, not good!) or not working through a weekend really helps me feel better, even if I feel behind as a result, because I feel more in control of my own time again and happier because I had some fun in the short term. I don't know if that's the best strategy or not.

The exercise thing totally does not work for me, because that's just one more thing I feel bad at.

Anyhow, I relate. My heart goes out to you. I'm sorry things are overwhelming lately. I think you rock, if that helps.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger dr four eyes said...

As requested, no advice from me. But I do relate to the leakiness. And I hope you'll continue to post here if that helps--I've missed your posts lately!

At 10:40 PM, Blogger Bella Sultane said...

I know the leaking evil feeling well. When I feel leaky I usually try to strike a balance between doing some work and giving myself license to just ... feel leaky. I eat sorbet, watch dvds, read mystery novels, and cry. For me, it's usually one of those things where I can't get past my feelings without going straight through them.

I hope you find something that works for you that makes things a bit more bearable.

At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Marie said...

I find it really hard to keep things inside when everything is going wrong, but I usually find that others are less than helpful when I confide in them. So I usually turn to my journal to get out all of the nasty, painful thoughts that are running in my head. Coming up with a plan to get out of a bad situation seems to help me too - even if there is no good plan. I like to write down all of my options. Then I try to motivate myself to do something to help the situation. There are times, however, when I'm too down to do much to help myself, so then I will treat myself to something I think will take my mind off of it.


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