Thursday, August 6, 2009

Anger Management

God, I lost it today. We have learned through our grief counseling that in our culture grief often presents itself as anger, particularly in males. My husband is a concrete example of that in action over the last few weeks, and our counselor had been working with him to convince him to allow his grief a venue at the appropriate time. I had listened to all of this with a sympathetic ear, but with no real sense that it pertained to me. I had worked hard for years to control my rather famous red-headed temper. I had grown up with a very hot tempered father and a mother who had passive-aggressive behavior down to an art form, and I had come out of it as a kind hearted powder keg. I could kill you with kindness on a good day, but put me under a little bit of stress or deprive me of some sleep and it could potentially be Katie Bar the Door. Ironically, on some level, this probably helped me in my career. I worked as a female trying to do a man's job: be the primary bread winner, earn an ownership stake in a growing company in a rough industry (property management), work successfully in an industry where we often had to face people down and tell them things they definitely did not want to hear, and supervise strong willed, independent people. A little attitude went a long way. My temper was not always a good thing in the work place, but I cannot honestly say I would have gotten where I did without it. Face it, it's a man's world still. A little attitude in working women sometimes is necessary. But, at home, it almost never is a good thing. And even in my work, I need to know when to flash it and when to put it away for a rainy day. I have worked, and worked hard, for years to learn how to do that. But I, for the most part, did it. Over the last couple of years, with a fiery exception or two or three, I have been a pretty cool customer. I had learned that biting on some jerk's bait gets you nothing but a sharp hook in your mouth. And I like being able to stay above that muck for the most part. I like who I had become a whole lot better than the person I was four or so years ago. In one swift temper tantrum all that work came toppling down. I'll save you the gory details, but suffice it to say I only have one job now. I will no longer be doing the independent contracting job. I quit in a huff. No, make that a HUFF.

Honestly, I had been a kettle ready to boil for some time. My little issues with Mother, little disputes with my husband over ridiculous things, increasing irritations over the consulting arrangement, including slow reimbursement, have all been piling up. All things that would have rolled off my back like water on a duck before June 20. But, instead, they just all floated around in my fevered brain and festered until finally a rather pompous individual raised his head, acted like the male chauvinist he probably is, and I totally popped. When the woman I do the consulting for protested about my manner, I told her, in essence, to shove it. Did this complete jackass do it do me? No. Absolutely he did not. I did it to me. Before June 20, I would have had a chuckle at how sad this poor little person is (and he is). Now I have lost my sense of composure, exploded all over a lot of people, and accomplished nothing but giving him the upper hand. Because that's what I learned during all that hard work to control myself: when I would lose that famous temper of mine in the past, I often just gave away my position and rarely won anything but some gray hair and/or worry lines. I'm not sad about losing the position, but wish I had retained my dignity and found a way to extract myself differently. And, really, what is it to me that some jerk with an attitude has to make himself feel better by belittling what he thinks is a clerk compared to what I have lost? Nothing. He is less than nothing to me, so I am furious with myself (See? There's that anger again.) for letting all that effort evaporate in a matter of minutes. I wonder who I'm really angry at. Myself for not doing enough for Kelsey? Kelsey for not doing enough for herself and making us go through this? The insurance companies for not covering her illness so we could afford to help her. God? All of the above? I have no idea. So, for now, until I figure it out, I think I'll blame Dick Cheney. Yeah, that's the ticket.


  1. I am pretty sure Dick Cheney deserves it. You know, I am not so sure I agree with you about "losing it". I understand what you are saying and understand the necessity of controlling anger. But, I think controlling anger all the time for the sake of controlling anger probably isn't all that healthy. Anger is there for a reason. The same as love or joy or grief. To keep it in check all the time, only letting it out here and there, for this or that. I don't know. I think that leads to malaise. Think about what happens to POW's who are abused but can't show anger, can't fight back. Think about that experiment with monkey's where they shocked them and shocked them and the monkey couldn't figure out why or fight back. They became depressed and broken. No. I think if anything, getting angry and not being able to express it probably causes more problems, physically or mentally than it abates. But, if we could find our inner buddhist monk that didn't get angry in the first place, that would be ideal...grasshopper.

  2. Grasshopper replies: I will ponder on your comments, but here's the thing - I am about 99.99999% certain the person I exploded all over is not actually who I am angry at. I don't discount that the gentleman in question is a donkey's hind end and his wife deserves my pity, but I did nothing to help myself in dissplacing my anger in his direction. He won that chess match, and he really didn't deserve the karmic energy I wasted in his direction. I think the thing one has to decide is where the anger really should lie and how to productively deal with it. Fighting for health care reform so other parents can afford to help their daughter leaps to mind. Fighting with this bozo, not so much.

  3. I don't think we are ever angry at the people or person we go off on but we have built up anger from our circumstances that with a little bit of help from that person causes the explosion that has been lerking in us for such a long time. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time and so they got the blunt of our fustrations and anger. Anger is not a bad thing. As you know I am a sample of letting it go at times and I feel much better after I have. Whether the people around me were at fault of not is still up for debate but I know I really don't care. I guess I will never deal with my anger because I have accepted that I have it and I try to cage it as much as I can and actually not let my anger build to an explosive point. I have done pretty good as of the last few years. I have tryed other outlets and they seem to work. You really didn't want to deal with this guy anyway and you don't have to now. You are only human and you have supressed your anger for so long that you needed an outlet and he was there. I know how you feel. Don't beat yourself up over being human.