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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A life with anger


Why are you angry? What's frustrating you? How do you resolve it?

Those were three questions I probably needed to hear when I was growing up. I needed a positive way to resolve the frustration which often turned quickly into anger. I was quick to loose my temper, it was ridiculous but in the moment I felt completely out of control. Out of control with whatever frustrated me, then with my anger, it just compounded the frustration. The people around me reacted in different ways some would just freeze or ignore the spectacle, others would laugh or make fun and or egg me on. The people that egged it on were probably not my friends. The ones that froze or ignored it, were never mean spirited. I can imagine they were either embarrassed for me or just wished I would stop. I wish I could have stopped, it was not their responsibility to stop me.

My wife was the first person to ever breach my fit of rage. I had completely lost my temper at the dogs, I ended breaking a piece of furniture in the process. She started crying but staid steady and asked what it was that was really frustrating me. I had never been confronted this way, I think I started crying too. It started a conversation about the real cause of my anger. Which of course was not the small disruption the dogs caused. It was a build up of issues that either I could did not know how to resolve or did know how to ask for help. This conversation still continues to this day.

That eruption of anger is still there, most of the time it shows up as a verbal rant. I think in last ten years there has been at most handful of times were I completely lost it. When that happens I am surprised by it, because of the rarity. I feel like when I was a kid it was a something that happened weekly if not almost daily. I was really frustrated with my Dads drinking amongst other things. He would loose his temper in the same way. Rarely was his anger directed at anyone but you could easily enough get caught in the crossfire. I know I have done the same to people near me, for that I am truly sorry, I can't take it back or justify that behavior. No matter the intent I was wrong and an asshole for having ever harmed anyone directly or indirectly. I have to wonder if I became too my friends like my Father was to me. I was always on egg shells around him waiting for the next display of drunken insanity, I was not drunk but the behavior was not much different. Often the worst part for me was the fact I would lose my temper and than shortly after the blow up I would find a good solution to the problem. If I could just skip the blow up, how productive would I have been. That is till the fight today trying to walk around my own anger/frustration and go directly to the solution.

One reason I am writing this so maybe someone can help a kid deal with their anger, before they become a middle aged guy who looks back with sorrow for his anger. I can't tell anyone how to arrest their temper, other than find the root of the frustration and deal with that. Friends and family don't shame or make fun of them have empathy for them. I had a lot of good people around who tried, sometimes it was years before their lessons sunk in. Second reason I am writing this, is out of fear of becoming one of the angry old men I saw when I was a teenager. I don't want to view my past with rose colored glasses. I want to engage in the second half of my life with creativity. I have learned, and still learning that when I feel frustrated. To stop what I am doing and ask myself the three questions Why are you angry? What's frustrating you? How do you resolve it?