Losing our shit – literally and figuratively.

Lindsay, Bordeaux, France

There are multiple ways to say “to lose one’s temper” :

to crack, to blow up, to freak out, to fly off the handle, to lose it, to lose your shit… 

but I’ve always thought the best was “to snap.” 

It conjures up an image, for me, personally, of a ruler.  An old-timey wooden ruler (because let’s face it, most of them are in plastic nowadays), wrapped at both ends by strong fists, slowly being bent until suddenly – you guessed it – it snaps.

It puts up a pretty good fight – resisting at first, fighting back against the pull of the fists, then giving just a little under the pressure, but still holding it together.  Bending slightly to handle the weight, adapting to the force exerted upon it. The fists continue, never letting up, and the ruler continues to bend, becoming a deformed, tense, trembling version of its former self.

And, at some point, the pressure becomes just too much to handle. Maybe the ruler has been bent to a trembling point too many times, so the wood has tons of tiny fractures throughtout, and the next time the fists begin to pull, the ruler no longer has the ability to resist. Or perhaps, the ruler has been kept at a trembling point for so long, that even the slightest addition of force in one way or another is just too much to handle.  Either situation results in a loud snap and two jagged pieces, and maybe even a painful splinter in the eye.

Now, you are all smart enough to work out the metaphor here, so I won’t spell it out for you.  I once had a teacher who said that to snap, or to lose your temper, was a failure. That nothing good can come of it and you just end up hurting people.  But I can’t completely agree.  I think that sometimes we need to snap in order to recognize and acknowledge the pressure that is bending us out of shape, and to figure out how to best put our jagged broken pieces back together. 

Ella, Llangefni, Wales

Losing my shit. Have to say, happens pretty often. Or at least some people think it does, you see I’m a classic potty mouth. On the phone to customers at work I would never dream of even using a grey area word like bloody (I know, it’s about as British as cursing gets, but you get the point). But once the professional game face comes off that’s it, it’s f this, b******s to that, you get the idea.

This probably makes me seem like a massive hot head, and I definitely can be at times. But I find that all the swearing actually helps me not completely lose it. I just let the anger out in a string of bad words, and I feel better. Lifting weights also helps with this, especially when the anger helps me lift more.

So I guess we all have our own little ways of trying to prevent ourselves from completely blowing a gasket. For some it’s going for a nice walk, ideally somewhere nice and calm. I’m lucky enough to have this view from my work, so it does make this very easy for me.view

So what do you do if you’re in a situation where you know you’re about to lose it? This time I don’t mean being annoyed because yet another idiot cut you off on a roundabout, I mean steam coming out of the ears and nostrils level rage. For me it has to be one way or the other, either just walk away and let it out, or go completely ballistic. Although I know that it’s not healthy to bottle things up, I also think it’s important to not take the going completely nuts route *too* often, it can become such a vicious circle that’s nearly impossible to get out of. Let the little things go and move on, it’s a much healthier way to live.

Now to only try and heed my own advice when I’m behind the wheel…

In case anyone wants to ask, the photo really is the view from where I work on Anglesey. You’re seeing the Menai Strait and the Snowdonia mountain range. I’m pretty lucky

Hannah, Paris, France

I try to make it a rule to not work myself into a state where I could feasibly “lose my shit.” You know the sort – calm, cool and collected if perhaps completely in denial. That’s my MO. But even in largely respecting this mantra, I have been known to flip out on occasion. And it turns out that that is fine, because when you have good people around you, they will pick all your shit up for you and make the world manageable again.

And as luck would have it, I do indeed have a favorite anecdote for this very subject. It was Wine & Chocolate weekend in Lodi, California 2016 and Hannah had not made excellent sleeping decisions the night before going into work. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of galivanting through Lodi wine country on this particular weekend, you may not be able to imagine the madness that was underfoot, but I assure you, it was inebriated, chocolate-induced folly. After several hours of being denied cheese, handling customers asking for refills while extending horizontal glasses and opening bottles every 3-4 minutes, I had had quite enough.

Hungry, dehydrated, and dealing with a barrage of drunk lovers – I was at my limit. Fortunately for me, my pour buddy that day was the fabulous Mark who has a particular knack for identifying my workplace emotional status. And he could see the lack of calories and patience in my eyes. With a hug, a bag of pistachios, and a few contraband bits of cheese in hand, he sent me off to find some cool in an abandoned corner of the winery.

The stunning site of my tale – m2 winery in Lodi.

Now I fully realize that I was largely responsible for the state of affairs that I found myself in on that Sunday afternoon, and in truth, I concede that pouring wine in a gorgeous winery can only be the scene of such stress in an extremely exaggerated version of this story. I have dealt with worse and been much more collected about it in other situations. So what I especially appreciated on that day – and on every day that my beloved friends and family look after me when I’m about to crack – is the knowledge that the right person at the right moment can quell the sometimes illogical tides of life. Choose your circle wisely, and your shit will always be found. And sometimes you’ll get snacks too.

Kirsten, Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia

This is the time I actually lost my shit. Literally.

Living in Ethiopia definitely has its culinary benefits. Try anything from berbere powder, tibs, or juice at just about any local restaurant, or even better, inside someone’s home (the best way to have local food by the way.)

But I digress.

It was over two years ago during my training as a Volunteer in Ethiopia. Or was it just this past weekend? Point is, there were many times when I just couldn’t keep that stuff that comes out of the other end in. Legend has it that about 90% of American Peace Corps Volunteers poop their pants during their two years of service. I’ll spare you from telling you which side I fall on.

Anyway, on that grand day during my young and green days in Ethiopia, I ate and thought myself on top of the world. “Of course I’ll try raw meat that’s been sitting there awhile.” “Fresh salad! Yum!” “Draft beer, of course.”

It wasn’t until one night while out with some pals that I drank two draft beers (mind you, 3-5 is tiny little Kirsten’s limit) and walked home feeling a bit off. I knew I wasn’t tipsy, but also knew I wasn’t feeling the best.12338564_529444170562849_78162982_n

About 9 P.M. comes along, a friend texts me asking if I got home alright. I reach to respond but suddenly have the urge to get to the toilet.

Now what you need to know is that the host family I was staying with had a main house with the “shint bet” or “pee house” separate from the house. Due to hyenas or just a general feeling of security, my host mom would lock the house, thus barring my way to the toilet in the middle of the night. So what would one do if they had to take care of business? Use a chamber pot.

Thus, I utilized the chamber pot and my laundry bucket, as one eloquently and proudly term “double dragon” all of the beer, lunch, and any other stomach fluids that I had in my body. If you don’t understand what double dragon means, just focus on the “double” aspect of it.

And there you have it. That was an epic time that I lost my shit. Double time.


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