You’re Never Too Old to Throw a Tantrum. ~ Jessica DeLoy

Via elephant journal
on Jun 14, 2012
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Go ahead, have a fit.

I’m tired, hungry, stressed and don’t want to be social.

It’s Friday night after work. I’m planning on going out—and I will. I just need to throw a good old fashioned tantrum first.

Some people thrown down. Some throw a party. I’m throwing a fit and my local swimming pool is hosting.

Starting my usual warm up, I push off the wall. Instead of stream lining 25 yards ahead to the opposite wall where I usually do a flip and head back the other way, I finish a few strokes, arrive at the 13-foot deep end and start to tread water. My magnificent display of utter flailing foolishness begins.

I’m at the pool but I don’t want to workout. I don’t want to follow the black line at the bottom of the pool. I don’t want to jog from point A to B. I don’t want to bend over or breathe when someone tells me. I don’t want to sit and watch my thoughts. I don’t know what’s for dinner, where it’s going to come from or whom I’m going to eat it with. I need to go to bed.

So, I do what any adult would do—I throw a tantrum.

I kick the water, pound it with my flexed heels, making unladylike splashes. I jerk around and somersault forward tucking my head into my chest, squeezing my eyes shut, giving my core a real good glare. Interrupting my momentum, I arch and open backwards. I’m all staccato. Sharp fists pound the water. My neck snaps side-to-side.

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I don’t want to go with the flow. I want to move against it—create my own waves.

I’m already in deep water, in over my head, and here I find the perfect place for an adult to throw a fit.

It’s never packed.

Friday nights at the gym are usually sparsely attended. The chance of having a large audience is minimal. I have a whole lane to myself and only two other swimmers with me in the pool. Space is key.

There’s a built-in lifesaver.

For a $5.50 fee, I’m guarded by a high schooler paid to care about me. Between texts, he will save me from myself. Plus, I can’t break anything. There’s nothing to throw, no walls to dent or people to upset.

It will end.

I’ve had a brooding temper simmer for days before. Tonight, though, there’s a time limit. This production has to end in 30 minutes. The pool closes. I don’t want to be removed kicking and screaming, so the large clock on the wall reminds me—move furiously, stay focused.

I have to breathe.

I can’t hold my breath. I gasp. I welcome the urgency to come up for air, a forced break before the thrashing starts again.

No puffy, teary eyes.

Fill goggles with tears, rinse and repeat. Treading water with goggles on, I can’t rub my eyes. The cool water helps reduce red, swollen, puffy, crying face. No one will ever guess what I’ve been up to.

After my unruly spectacle, I swim back to the wall in high spirits. I’m spent and ready for a shower, a warm transition back into the world.

The elderly gentleman in the lane next to me says, “I saw you out there. Do you swim the medley relay?” Ha! I probably did look I was trying to swim the back, breast, butterfly and free—all at one time. Like my onlooker, I too am trying to make sense of nonsense.

Do you ever fall apart to keep it together?


Jessica DeLoy lives, works and freaks out in Denver, CO.





Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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5 Responses to “You’re Never Too Old to Throw a Tantrum. ~ Jessica DeLoy”

  1. Juiceica says:

    Yes! I had a total hissy fit after cutting my finger on yet another broken mug my roommate felt the need to keep (we had a million mugs but she kept all the ones she broke the handles off of) so what did I do? After weeks of simmering anger, frustration and misery I got out a garbage can and threw every broken handled mug into it. Hard as I could, Smashing ceramic and glass safely in the trash can but the noise and the feeling of purposely breaking things like that while I yelled and sobbed felt INSANELY satisfying. After I was done I bandaged up my finger and was in the best mood I'd been in in weeks! Adult temper tantrums are great!

  2. mike says:

    Emotion is a warning signal to take action. But tantrums, stress, anxiety and other negative emotions in themselves are useless and merely placate the ego in the short term. They are a band aid solution to a problem that has not yet been appropriately confronted.

  3. Sam says:

    I love this piece. The perspective and the writing are so refreshing.

  4. […] found myself curled up crying in the dirt last night in the rose […]

  5. ivanteach says:

    I enjoyed this piece as well, nicely written. What Mike says above is interesting, in that yes there might be some deeper issues that are being avoided. But a kinetic reaction and the resulting catharsis is in fact a way of taking action, and not necessarily a band aid. In the thrashing in the pool the emotions are safely channeled, and the body is being relieved in the present moment. I wonder what Mike would recommend instead? Talk? Meditation? These are good too, but we need all the tools in the toolbox, and a brilliantly channeled tantrum isn't a bad choice in my book.