90 Second Tantrum

Hey Soulmate,

I just had a tantrum at IKEA. Don’t worry, I made it to the car before I started screaming and crying and then laughing at what seemed to be happening to me or through or me. It only lasted 90 seconds and then I felt silly, a little pouty, and then I forgot about it. According to my hero, most-watched TED talker, and Neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte-Taylor, 90 seconds is all it takes to let a mini-emotional storm pass through.

When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds. This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.” – Jill Bolte-Taylor

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Imagine what the DMV and IKEA might look like if we all took 90 seconds to honor our emotional reactions to whatever nonsense we are experiencing. It would look super weird and funny, much like a loony-bin I imagine,  but I wonder how it might impact our overall experience. Instead of waiting for the pressure to build and then freaking out on our loved ones or waiting for our hour of therapy, everywhere becomes a spiritual center. You don’t have to go to Bali or India, getting a traffic ticket will do.

I’ve been around babies a bit lately and watching their face is like watching a Doppler weather map where clouds, sun, rain, and snow are simultaneously flitting across the screen. They are little emotional weather systems. What is telling is how we react. We can know, for a fact, that all their needs are being met but when a baby cries it feels like a personal affront to the knight inside. “I must make it stop by any means necessary!” I have a theory that we remain a multifaceted weather system but instead of allowing the weather we build a biosphere around ourselves.

(I just googled “emotional weather system” and found this! EmoFlux is a system by artist Gil Park that visualizes the emotional flow as a weather pattern. It allows the audience to see the emotional circulation and distribution across the country and the neighborhoods that they live in.)

Soulmate, I don’t want you to think I am “crazy” or “drama”, god forbid I lose control (which I am actively seeking btw), but I have to be honest that at times there will be tantrums. There will be times when energy runs through me at every temperature and all I need are a few minutes to allow it, instead of judge it. It will probably be super helpful if you don’t judge it either but listen, you be you. I just wanted to let you know in case you needed a little permission to feel too.

Love, Me

90 Second Tantrum

Permission to Rage

Hey Soulmate,

I realize why I haven’t met you yet. I’m nervous to write this but I have faith you are willing to listen. Every now and then, I feel emotions I can’t explain. I sometimes feel like a radio tower tuning into different frequencies. Whether it is a primal wave moving through me or a reaction to a mediocre date, I recently discovered a sizable and strangely non-specific reservoir of pain and judgment against men. Actually, it is more than judgment. It is rage.

The moment after I felt the rage, I felt guilt. My Father and Ex are both remarkable, loving men and the few men after them never hurt me in any direct way. But here it is anyway and in my dogged pursuit of freedom via total transparency and authenticity I’m letting it come up and sharing it with you. In my guilt, I heard a voice in my head say, “men are just little boys doing the best they can to be a ‘man’ in a time when no one knows what that means.” Who am I to kick you? That isn’t very feminine. And you are just a little puppy underneath all that pretending and no good person kicks a puppy.

Let’s say hypothetically that you, or all men, in fact, were born the physically weaker sex. And in the beginning, beginning your primary function was to have babies and try desperately to keep them alive from the brutal elements of Earth. Your survival relied on the opposite sex to protect you from other invading men who would try to kill you or your children and take your stuff. Then a book is written by men, that literally all men read (you can’t read), that tells you that you are actually just an extension of the opposite sex and your value is equal to what they say it is and especially in the eyes of this new idea being tossed around of a monotheistic “God”. The written word, across all religious texts translated by men, dictates specific rules about what you can wear, whom you can wed, how you can worship, and what your purpose is (which is to serve the other sex). There is a sense of progress because religious shame and brutal punishment stems a bit of the raping and stealing but still, your primary function is to be a virgin and find a man who will bring you protection, wealth, and perceived power. This leads to a few thousand years of brutality where men are fighting wars everywhere in the name of family, God, and country. You begin to play more of a role here in the higher ranks, very Lady Macbeth, in pursuit of power. But the power is never truly yours. It is always your mate’s, and if you get too proud your head will likely be severed from your neck. There was also a period where you were burned alive, like a lot, because the opposite sex claimed to actually be God. And then came the age of reason (Woo-hoo!), a time when some reasonable men thought you had your own inherent value and others made very “intelligent” arguments for why you were still the weaker sex only here to serve them. But education was on the rise and ideas were viral and you soon had had enough with the current state of affairs. You rallied together, even while getting beaten, and stood up for what you knew was right. You demanded to be heard, to be seen as equal and so you were. The End. Just kidding. It was just the beginning.

Just as it wasn’t our fault we were oppressed for thousands of years during a reign of patriarchy, it also wasn’t your fault that you played the role of oppressor. It just IS.

So now what? Have we evolved past our primal instincts enough to become aware of and consciously choose what drives our behavior? What is emotional responsibility and how can we take it? What does “manhood” even mean now? We are babies in the evolution of gender equality and we are acting like it. Between #gamergate and #shirtgate, the Internet served as an aggressive platform for punishment. A few women used it to express their long overdue exasperation at insidious sexism, other women chose to tear those women apart, and teenage boys threatened to rape them all.

Source: @TreyRatcliff
Source: Embrace by The Pier Group Photo from @TreyRatcliff

Soulmate, I guess what I am asking is, can we talk about it? I think keeping my mouth shut only dishonors us both. If you say yes it scares the shit out of me. I can’t imagine anything more vulnerable. Can I express this rage without you hardening your heart? That is the opposite of what I want. In truth, I think underneath this rage is all the infinite patience and loving acceptance we both long for. Is it cool (and safe) for me to express it? I don’t think it would last long and, and in actuality, it really has nothing to do with you (specifically). It is just an emotion, neutral until aimed and fired. If it meant freedom for both of us, could you just listen or maybe even hold this pillow while I’m whacking it with my fists? I’ll hold the pillow for you. I want to hold for the healthy expression of your rage too. Perhaps manhood (and womanhood) is the brave and healthy expression of every emotion, even one as frightening as rage. Come on! Let’s take turns freaking out on a bouncy castle.

– Bristol Baughan

Permission to Rage