My son has this funny habit of falling asleep with his legs shoved halfway into his pillowcase. Tonight he was really frustrated with the process and kept saying "not like that!" as if he were scolding the errant pillow for being uncooperative. I tried to help several times, but he was just as frustrated with me as he was with the pillow, so I stepped away from the struggle. Poor kid - mom just doesn't understand the delicate process of pillowcase-sleepingbag transformation.
Frustration isn't a new thing for Gareth, but his awareness of frustration is. When he was a tiny boy, all of his existence was one moment of frustration after the next as Cliff and I frantically tried to interpret his wordless cries and wails. Now, though...now he understands perfectly well when I look him directly in the face and say "No." and that kind of frustration? Well, that kind is much more difficult to bear.
I've used the words relentless, unending (and the like) many times to describe the nature of this present darkness. And those terms still come closest to the sense of the thing, but there is also an element of malevolent frustration. Sometimes Cliff's sentence feels less like an impersonally severe judgment and more deliberately wounding (especially when we read stories of teachers having taped orgies with students and only receiving a 5yr sentence). There are some moments when I look around at my surroundings and think "who is messing with me?!" I feel like an infant must: confused, afraid and utterly frustrated by this bewildering and unknowable terrain that most around me call "life." I would much rather someone would look me right in the face and just say "No - you can't have your life back." It would be devastating but at least cut-and-dry. Sometimes hope itself seems to be just neatly repackaged frustration.
In talks with my therapist, we're pretty sure I'm approaching the angry stage of grief. I'm feeling much less charitable, much less forgiving, much more likely to snap than to pause for anger to abate. My sense of frustration most likely is a symptom of my simmering anger, a prelude perhaps to a stage much less pretty or languorously pitiable. I'm trying to rein in the more inappropriate expressions of this emotional tidal wave, but I'm sure I will soon be tendering more apologies than usual. Now though, now I merely snarl at red lights, scoff at political rhetoric and glance darkly around the sky as I cynically wait for another cosmic boot to fall.
Plus I'm feeling fat.
Pray that this time of frustration is a short one. Pray that I quit struggling with my own metaphysical pillowcases and learn to pull up the already provided sheets instead.