Anger Management

The Cast: Meanie, Myself, and Why.

“That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.” — Bruce Banner, as delivered by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers (2012).

Anyone else feel that way? Have that issue? Anyone?

Anyone?

Anger issues. Phfffttt…

It is possible to assume that I may have a bit of an anger management problem. Possibly. We’ll see. So, put on your pith helmet and let’s go exploring, shall we?

As the last child I did have some privileges (my mother developed ovarian cancer while pregnant with me, I was the last child). Those who are the youngest in a family may know what I’m talking about. Usually, the youngest gets treated a little more special—I believe that most parents do it subconsciously. It’s the last, everything. It’s difficult. At any rate, because I was the youngest and the last, my mother gave me some extra attention, that maybe the oldest developed contempt for.

I say ‘maybe’ because I really don’t know. What I do know and have shared here and here, is that my older brother, Rawlin, had a tendency to be a little unpredictable and cruel. I vividly recall how he and a friend almost suffocated me. No joke. They had this game: Do You Hear That?, in where no matter what I would say they ‘couldn’t hear’ me. And there was one time where Rawlin decided to ‘lay down for a nap’ and while he was doing so I happen to have my face shoved under the very same pillow he was using. After his nap, his friend took a turn. It was this event that would become my breathing teacher. At six years old, self-discipline is not something I had in abundance. In fact, I probably owed the Discipline Bank. You don’t scream when you’re not getting new oxygen. If you do. You die. I almost did.

A least favorite memory is when I actually wanted to cut Rawlin’s fingers off. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not proud of it—well in a way I am. I am in that I’m-not-going-to-let-you-bully-me-any-more kind of way. Not in the I’m-mentally-deranged-and-wanna-saw-off-your-fingers way. They are two totally separate types of pride—and psychosis.

We were hand washing and putting away the dishes and I had a serrated bread knife that I had dried and wanted to put away. Rawlin demanded that I hand over the knife so he could put it away. Now (as in the present tense) I understand that the easiest thing to do would have been to just hand it over. But as a bullied six-year-old, nothin’ doin’. I had the capability to put it away. I already had it. Plus, the drawer was right in front of me. Rawlin continued to demand. I continued to refuse. This went on for some time. The rest of the family was in the house moving about and doing other things. This knife fight was private.

I had the knife by the handle (because that’s how you hold one) and Rawlin decided he would grab for the blade and take it from me (he had assumed since he was stronger than me that he could just take it—that’s what he told mom). As he did, I pulled the knife away from his grip. If he hadn’t let go, he may have lost his fingers. As it was, the cuts were just on the I-only-need-Band-Aids-and-not-stitches side. Oh, mom was mad. At both of us.

Years of being overlooked and ignored have only added to that. It’s frustrating. But you don’t always know how much that frustration has built inside you. You want to be happy. You have no reason not to be. Life is good to you. You have friends. People who care about you. A lovely spouse (seriously, my wife is ‘all that and a bag of chips’). But there is this spot in your soul that says ‘Anger: Place in here’. Why?!? This question only adds to the anger.

I recall one incident where a bunch of us (a group of high school friends—during high school) were watching a movie at Richard’s house: Cindy and I were dating at the time and we were laying on the front room floor, next to each other. At some point during the film, Cindy went to the kitchen to get something to eat. That’s when all Hell broke loose. Apparently, even in my sleep, I can get angry. Which did happen one other time.

Speaking of time, I’m sure that most of you readers have seen a cartoon, or comic strip, where a kind, sweet, sleepy character is awakened by a loud alarm clock, only to silence the clock in a most violent manner. You know what I’m talking about? Typically, the character smashes it with a hammer or their fist, or sometimes they’ll shoot it. Ring a bell? (pun intended) Well, I had a dream like that only once.

The Pink Panther, S1: E55, In the Pink of the Night. Created by Friz Freleng and David DePatie.

I was asleep (obviously) and, just like in the cartoons, my alarm began to sound. It was a plug-into-the-wall kind. It had a digital display, AM/FM radio, Snooze button (the best button). It also had that plastic artificial wood-grain finish for that extra touch of class. Well, in my dream I did what many cartoon characters did and I smashed the top of the clock down to the bottom of the clock. Springs sprung out. Red and green wires frayed and jutted this way and that. The clear plastic front, however, did not shatter. No, it looked as though it had melted. More accurately, it reacted to my fist-slam like a sheet of aluminum foil rather than solid plastic. It was kinda cool. Then I woke up.

I woke to a dull ache in my right fist. As my eyes began to open to see if anything was wrong I was able to notice that I was wearing a new ring on all my fingers that resembled my alarm clock. Because it was my alarm clock. My fist was embedded into the front of my clock. And as payback, my clock embedded some bits of plastic into my hand. It was not as cut up as I thought it might be, or as bad as it felt. Still…

My wife wonders where the anger comes from. We are starting to think it’s years of build-up. I don’t like being angry. It makes me angry (the irony, I know). I like being happy, but there is just so much ‘stupid’ out there in the world. And I have to go out into the world and interact with all that stupid! GAHHH!!

While I am pretty arrogant (some would say), I would argue that I am confident. My experiences have taught me lessons, and I have paid attention. So, when a situation develops I really hate it when someone thinks I am wrong. Now, understand, I am fine with being wrong. It does happen, and I learn from it. But when I’m not wrong, and you start yelling at me because you think I’m wrong… Ooo, watch out buster. If I know that I am right, I’m right. But, if I think I am right, then I am willing to be corrected. And people have asked me, “How do you know when you’re wrong?” To which I respond with something like, “Once, I thought I was wrong. But I was mistaken.” And then walk away.

Once, Erich and I were at my house and my mother told me that I was going to help my brother take a truckload of garbage to the local dump. Fortunately, Erich was willing to go with us (seriously, it was fortunate). My brother had gone to our uncle’s to borrow a flatbed truck with high sides for us to load the garbage onto. After it had arrived, the three of us did just that. All was well until the tie-down.

Rawlin just wanted to fasten the corners. I told him that we needed to put lashing across the middle as well because the wind—from driving—was going to come over the top of the truck and lift the tarp and then all the loose garbage will just fly out the back. Rawlin’s response was pretty simple, “No it won’t. We don’t need to do that.”

We began to argue. Me pointing out all the physics behind, wind and motion, the holes in the sides of the walls on the flatbed, what an idiot he was for thinking that just because he was older he knew better. Rawlin’s response was basically that I was stupid and wrong, and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. It almost came to blows. Erich stepped in-between us and tried to de-escalate the situation, but I had had it. All the years of not being listened to just because I was younger (not wrong, just younger). It took mom forcing me to go with to go with. I did not want to be anywhere near Rawlin. Erich sat between us, in the middle of the truck’s bench seat (see, fortunate).

We were not even out of town before the wind did exactly what I said it would. It came in from the sides and combined with the air moving over the cab, lifted the tarp and garbage was blown everywhere. Rawlin got out, Erich got out, I did not. They cleaned it up, I grudgingly helped Erich tie the tarp down. Rawlin didn’t think it would work. It did. Not a single bit of trash was lost after that.

Trying to sort out what triggers my anger has slowly been narrowed down. I believe the biggest trigger is: Stupid People.

Seriously, I do. My therapist thinks its kind of funny and tries to make me really think about what it really is. And I do. And I’m still pretty sure it’s Stupid People.

Like when someone asks, “Hey, whatcha got?” Do you even realize how vague that is? What I got?!? Where? In my hand? In my pocket? What? Then I try to clarify by asking them to be more specific, and then they get mad at me. Because I’m the idiot. How? I was trying to be helpful to understand their question and now I’m the idiot because they asked a vague question. Now I know that the example I gave isn’t a great one, but it’s that type of thing that drives me up the wall. When the other person screws up by not being clear in their intent by not speaking clearly or using the wrong words or using words incorrectly, and then they get mad at me because I understood that they spoke wrong, but I’m the idiot?!?! Okay, I need to move on here. I’m getting all worked up.

The other day I had a theory about the anger. Therapists will talk about how sometimes, as a child, certain emotions are suppressed for different reasons, and then, as adults, people don’t know how to cope with them. Well, let’s assume that’s me. Here’s my theory:

As I mentioned before, I like being happy. I really do. I prefer it. So the theory is that, as a child, I built an anger silo (like something a farmer would put grain into) for all that anger and resentment that I didn’t ever get to express (for whatever reason). Let us also suppose that I did really well and built it bigger than I needed. As I would harvest my anger over the years—to continue with the farming analogy—I ended up with some extra room (or so I thought). Well, society says, “Don’t lose your temper.” “Don’t get angry.” “Be mature.” So, that anger didn’t/doesn’t get shipped out. It never gets to leave the silo. It’s never planted as a seed to grow into a rage-plant. As a result, the silo now easily overflows and I explode over the most ridiculous events. And everyone wonders why.

But when I try to explain that I need to release somehow or I’ll ‘pop’, then I get in trouble for letting my anger get to that point in the first place. Which makes me angry (more angry, since I was already angry). So-o not fair.

I have come to believe very much in the fabled ‘Latin intensity’. My mother had it, her mother had it, I have it. The intensity isn’t always love, it’s in every emotion. Including anger.

I Love Lucy, S:3, Ricky Loses His Temper. Originally aired February 22, 1954.

Supposedly there is a healthy way to release the anger. But I get told that violence is not it. I disagree. Now, before you get all uppity and upset, I do not mean violence against another person. Spouse or child abuse is never alright. I am referring to being able to let it out onto something. Moving that energy onto/into something else. Like a punching bag, or old furniture that you beat with a bat or a stab with a sword. That anger release is very therapeutic (I think). Now, the silo gets drained a little bit. There is more room. But, there are those that say it’s still bad because it’s still violence. Whatever. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

With all the abuse and bullying I endured as a child, let’s assume that I don’t have much room left in the silo, and so, my anger comes to the surface, and shows itself—pretty quickly. But then it passes just as quickly. The anger-seed gets planted, grows, and withers in the white-hot passion. Done.

At my wife’s request, I tried to sign up for an Anger Management group/class. I did some research, as did my wife, I made some calls and I got through to the secretary of the only Anger Management course in my area. The first question I was asked was if I had been assigned to take the course by a court of law. I told the lady, that I had not. I was just trying to find some help. She told me that because it wasn’t court-ordered they couldn’t help me. End of story. Needless to say, I was a little perturbed (I need to stop writing about this, it’s making me upset).

Fortunatly, my wife works hard at helping me. She lovingly, guides and directs me. She is very patient in my attempts to curb the unknown anger. I wouldn’t have made it this far without her.

If you do find yourself getting upset over trivial matters, I would suggest looking into what may be available in your area. Or at least online. Find something that works for you. Get help, feel good, be happy.

Author’s Note: While attempting to get this post completed this morning to post, my internet, computer, and certain softwares were very uncooperative (6 hours to do 30 minutes of work). Thus making me very angry about a post about me being angry.

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