Hormonal Surges Fuel Temper That’s Uncontrollable — but Could Power Gotham
At my son’s summer camp, the kids get to know each other by answering the age-old question: If you could have any super power, what would it be? Flight and invisibility are popular answers. Some kids say teleportation or time travel.
I’ve never liked that question. While I have unwavering responses to the Desert Island Album question (Beatles, white) and the Celebrity Sex Freebie question (Harrison Ford, any age), I’ve never had a solid super power at the ready. Are you supposed to choose from powers that already exist in the comic-book oeuvre? Or be creative and say, “Parthenogenesis. You know, so I could make babies without male involvement”?
The question actually irritates me. But to be fair, everything irritates me just now. I have begun spasming in and out of what The Google tells me are fits of perimenopausal rage — defined as “outbursts beyond your typical anger level” brought on by “fluctuations in hormones that typically begin in the mid-forties” and which “can be unsettling.”
I mean, sure. You could describe it like that. Personally, I’d say it feels like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors and D’Artagnan, the Stranger Things Demogorgon, have mated and their bloodthirsty hell-spawn offspring is clawing its way out of my soul in order to tear the face off whichever human being had the misfortune of interacting with me last.
On the upside, though … I think I’ve found my super power.
My temper is utterly uncontrollable, but I’m fairly certain it could power Gotham — which is a strangely thrilling sensation. I might have believed my newfound fury was not hormonal at all, but just a natural reaction to the political offal being flung at us daily by the current administration. I might have … except for two things:
- My rage comes on like a vegetation fire during a summer sundowner and — unlike any other mood that once plagued me, from mild disquietude to marked chagrin — it cannot be muffled with a glass of zinfandel. In fact, booze, cruelly, acts like gasoline on this particular inferno.
- It is accompanied by semi-hourly fantasies about salacious rivers of creamy, melty peanut butter entwining pornographically with thick, glisten-y ribbons of hot fudge. Don’t judge me, or I swear to god I will cut you.
Things that suddenly steep me in rage: The band Chicago. Really any music in which the singer isn’t screaming and the bass isn’t rattling my ribcage. Pedestrians — all of them. The crow outside my bedroom window, at whom I shrieked “YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU’RE AN A—HOLE!” at 7 a.m. last Sunday. Ads of hideous shoes defacing my Facebook feed. (Who designed the algorithm that reckoned I’d wear those clunk-tastrophes? I want names. And addresses.) Drivers who wave my car ahead of them at stop signs even though it’s their right of way. That anarchy-disguised-as-kindness BS will not stand in a civilized society. Learn the rules, Gandhi!
Clearly I need coping strategies, but the advice I’ve read says to eliminate caffeine and sugar. As a responsible adult, I should issue a warning that anyone who tries to take either of those away from me should be watching over their shoulder for the rest of their puritanical, extortionate lives.
I downloaded an app called Calm that promised to help me “be kinder to and less judgmental of others.” But seconds into a recording called Cricket Pitch, I punched a pillow. I tried popping pellets of evening primrose oil; no dice. I’m considering loading the rest of them into a BB gun and aiming it at the crow outside my window.
Studies show that self-silencing our rage puts women at risk for depression, and I don’t need to be both mad and sad. Besides, by this age, haven’t I earned the right to erupt occasionally? So I’ll follow the lead of my mother, who actually found this life stage empowering.
“People learn not to [mess] with you,” she says. And, hooboy, does she mean it.
My other new role model: Super crankypants The Incredible Hulk. Dude could throw a tantrum to set off car alarms. But you never ever saw that guy in ugly shoes.