Frustration. It is a common element in my dealings here in China. It isn’t surprising, really. I speak very little Chinese. I can’t read characters. I spend my time muddling through. This requires me to be patient—patient with my children, patient with my neighbors, patient with myself. But it turns out I am not a patient person. I have limited patience especially in the face of constant frustration. Which brings me to my newest Shanghai emotion: impotent rage.
Oh yes, the worst kind of anger is the kind you can do nothing to remedy. In an ideal world, I would be able to fix the thing that is driving me crazy, but China is hardly an ideal world—at least not for me. Here I can’t always change the thing that is causing me to get angry. So I have two choices: let it all out in a fantastic show of emotion or tamp it down and try to contain it. Out in public I usually choose to keep the anger in. While I am sure many Shanghainese would love for me to pitch a screaming stomping fit, my pride keeps me from doing this. Most of the time. At least some of the time. But the anger containment isn’t working so well, either.
My body is notorious for responding to stress that my brain thinks we have well under control. The results are always spectacular. Like the time my neck refused to work while I waited to see if I had been accepted to graduate school, for example. While my sister found it hilarious that I needed to hold my head up using my hands as a brace, it wasn’t very convenient. The result of my new anger management issues here in Shanghai is equally debilitating. I have started to get migraine headaches.
At first I thought it was the pollution or the fact that I am probably not drinking enough of our frequently delivered bottled water, but now I am beginning to see the connections. I start to get frustrated—about the crowds, or not being able to get a taxi when I need one, or about something simple taking all day—and I can feel the headache starting. If I have had a few frustrating days in a row then there will be no escaping the migraine. I try to do things to alleviate the stress. But China is the stress. And here even my stress relievers can be stressful. You know when Bruce Banner is about to turn into the Hulk? That is me in Shanghai. Which means summer vacation can’t come fast enough.
Gwen!!!I”m sorry you are not enjoying China! Some of your frustrations resonate, especially with things taking five times longer than they should!!! And the crowded bus….not my favorite thing. We have gotten the summer vaca countdown on too! Hang in there!!!
“Enjoy” is a word I don’t get to use much in China! There are wonderful things here, of course, but I get bogged down in the daily stuff. You guys seem to be having a great adventure. How much longer are you in China?
Oh man. I can commiserate with the horror of migraines. May I suggest popping an Excedrine Migraine at the first inkling of one coming on. If they do not sell them in China, I will happily mail them to you. Seriously.
We are looking forward to your return to the States – let us know when and where you plan to reunite with the Creels so that we can arrange to see you guys.
Thanks, Kristin. I have never had migraines before so I have been pretty bad at keeping them from getting painful. We leave here on Friday (tomorrow! yikes!) so I will be sure to buy some when we are home. I’ll send out an email with our dates for GA.
Acupuncture may help. But I think having identified the trigger is a huge help already. I hold stress in my throat, apparently, and once a practitioner helped me figure that out, I was able to address the stress and consciously make an effort to let it go. Not always, but it helps. Good luck! Migraines suck.
By the way, next time you’re in FL and have some time to spare, let us know! We’d love to meet up with you all. We need a Paris reunion. 🙂
Honestly, what has helped the most has been going back to work. Apparently I cannot deal with staying home here. I am unable to relax about all the house and home stuff. Still getting some headaches, but nothing as serious as before. Keep your fingers crossed!