I’m a Jenga Tower

I’m so proud of how I handled my pain yesterday. Despite being alone all day, tackling a tough job assignment, feeling freezing, and the searing pain in my joints, my positive attitude persisted. I got my head in a good place right off the bat during my 4:00am meditation, and after that, I kept it buoyed over the long day, despite the tumultuous seas, crashing waves, and strong depression undertow. There were a few times when my resolve started wavering, and I felt depleted in terms of mental strength. In those moments, loneliness, sadness, and my physical pain spiked through the ceiling I had built for my discomfort tolerance. Instead of reviling myself for these falters, I caught them, accepted them, and tried to redirect my mood to a better place. This sometimes involved getting up and switching activities, texting a friend, or implementing a treatment modality for the symptoms (ice my joints, applying the heating pad to my back, putting my ankle in a removable cast for support, etc.). These strategies helped me get back on course with my attitude, which in turn, helped keep my pain perception at mostly manageable levels.

Today got off to a rocky start because I was having computer problems, which is one of the most powerful anger-instigators for me. I’m in the process of switching computers, from an old, problem-riddled broken machine to a powerful new one, purchased with the unparalleled (and perhaps undeserved) generous support from my mom for Christmas. She knows how frugal I am, yet sees the great importance of having a reliable, fast, and fully operating computer for my job responsibilities, and for my sanity. Needless to say, I’m beyond psyched to start using my new laptop fulltime, because it will mean far fewer hair-pullingly frustrating technology issues. And yes, I do literally pull at my hair when I get stressed. I’m still straddling the two machines because I have projects in progress on the old one that would be far too cumbersome and inefficient to migrate to the new computer, despite the painfully slow last legs of the old one. I’m anticipating being ready for the final switch by this coming weekend.

Unfortunately, this morning when I went to turn on the junker to get going on work, I was greeted with the dreaded Windows dotted wheel, tumbling at a painfully slow rotation speed, indicating that Windows was updating yet again (I just went through this on Monday!). I’ve discovered that I vehemently hate Windows 10; it’s presented nothing but issues and a cumbersome platform that seems to attempt to be adorned with far more bells and whistles than it has the processing power to support. It’s constantly freezing, crashing, and “attempting to repair.”

This morning, after eventually reporting that the update was 100% complete and “do not turn off your computer,” the screen continued to stay black for 19 minutes. Finally, my normal login box popped up, but when I entered my password, a dialog box opened that said “preparing your personalized settings.” This stayed frozen for another 30 minutes. No matter how many times I tried to force a restart, the same thing kept happening. I tried to boot into safe mode six times but it alerted me that the safe mode was not available. At this point, my frustration boiled over the cap that contains my emotional response. I burst into tears. I desperately wanted to get it operating so I could clock in and start working. All the technical difficulties had set me far off my normal work schedule and I was anxious to get going on my project. As I’ve admitted many times, I can’t easily navigate unanticipated changes to my schedule. The bigger issue was that I feared my crappy laptop was finally digging its metaphorical heels in, signaling its final operating refusal. This wouldn’t be the enormous deal that it was had I not committed the rookie mistake of not having an accessible current backup of my project. I’m usually obsessively diligent about staying on top of this smart (and necessary) step, but in true Murphy’s Law fashion, I didn’t have a recent backup of this particular project in the cloud nor removable storage drive because other projects that took priority got spliced in between the last time I worked on it and now. Over the week since I’ve last dedicated a significant amount of time to it, I’ve made many minute changes, that while individually minor, in aggregate, amounted to a lot of work that would be difficult to recreate. None of these such changes had been properly saved in an accessible location outside of my busted desktop.

And so I cried. I pulled my hair and allowed my babyish frustration tears to spill onto my cheeks while I watched the machine routinely boot to the same frozen error. As shameful as this immature reaction was, it functioned to allow just enough emotional steam release that within 5-7 seconds, I was cool enough to gain composure and tackle the problem with my logical brain instead of my primitive emotional brain.

I did some Google troubleshooting on my phone and some praying. I’m not sure if it’s the strategies I threw at it or a fortunate change in my luck (or power of prayer) that eventually got the laptop to get over its massive operating system glitch to boot up to a place that allowed me to access the documents I needed. Of course, I immediately saved them in numerous locations, counted my blessings, and took several recentering breaths.

I’m relieved that I can get back to work on my assignment, no progress was lost, and I will operate for the remainder of the project like my computer is on its dying breaths (proactively saving it every five minutes to my cloud).

I’m very disappointed in how I handled my bubbling frustration this morning. It’s ironic because this post started with me lauding my accomplishments yesterday and now I’ve taken a giant leap back today with the laptop problem. I so deeply want to have better emotional control like a “normal” adult. I don’t want to feel like I’m constantly sitting in this place where I’m about to blow over with a demonstrative emotional reaction. I feel like I’m a tower of poorly assembled Jenna blocks. I have awkward gaps, loose pieces, and shoddy construction that has left me vulnerable to imminent collapse. Should any stimulus contact my tower (be it the pull and attempted removal of one of my blocks or the careful addition to a new one at the top), I nearly inevitably collapse, and by this I mean my emotions spill out (I cry, I tremble in anxiety, I become depressed, or even become hyperactive, silly, and full of exuberance). My tower lacks the integrity of most buildings, rendering it vulnerable to a significant crumble with a seemingly minor assault to its structure. I look over at the other adult skyscrapers in envy. Their beautiful mirrored glass panes extend upwards in an impressively erected building with a strong foundation and an apex far above. Meanwhile, my loose wooden blocks are nearly beckoning various stimuli to incite a collapse. My recent self-improvement work to try and strengthen my emotional control is my genuine approach to shore up my fragile building. Brick by brick I will try to patch gaps and lay mortar between my mobile, wobbly blocks. I don’t need to focus on reaching higher yet through adding to my top, I just need to stay committed to bolstering what I have. I’ll get there. Brick by brick. Day by day. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a stable low-rise!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.