Monday, June 28, 2010

Anger Management

Originally uploaded by
Costel Mago

Or in my case, mismanagement.

Today I was just out of control. Everything, and everybody, was making me angry. First, let me say this, everyone actually did something, big or small, to elicit anger on my behalf. But, it was me that allowed myself to escalate quickly in each situation. It's like I had very little reserve left to buffer my response.

Does that sound like I am just making some lame excuse for my misbehavior? You would be right to say so. Of course, if you do say so you are likely going to be on the receiving end of an out of proportion angry response.

As we all know too well, I was likely just using each of these situations as a way to unleash the pent up anger that I desperately try to keep down these days. It is far too easy to lash out at those around me, then to lash out at some nonexistent responsible party that took Michael away from me.

It's days like today that make me wonder if all I am doing each day is pretending that I am coming to an acceptance of my reality. I have spent most of the past nine months being very angry at God, the universe, happy couples, and on and on. I had decided recently that it does me no good to hold on to so much anger, as it doesn't change anything. In fact, I think it only hold me back. I know that part of me will always be angry that Michael had to die, but a bigger part of me knows that I have to come to some sense of resolve.

Tomorrow I will have some mending to do. I will need to apologize for my over reactions. I will also need to begin rethinking my strategy for getting through these angry times, and about these angry feelings. I know that it is okay for me to feel angry about losing my husband so soon, but I also know that I need to find better ways to manage this anger. I can either control it, or it will control me.


  1. I don't think enough is said of the anger that many of us deal with on a daily basis. We move through our lives looking placid and in control on the surface, but beneath, many of us probably look more like this (hope the link works):

    For myself, with the passage of time, the anger seems to be diminishing, but there still remains some fire down below, waiting for an occasional chance to erupt.

    Last night was one of those times - a minor eruption as such things go - but I experienced that familiar rush of molten lava welling up and spewing forth in the form of words. A close friend called to crow about his wife's retirement which finally came to pass yesterday. Don and I, and he and his wife, were all about the same age. For as long as we've known each other, we've discussed how we would all be retiring at about the same time. Anyhow, during our phone conversation, he kept going on about how terrific it was that she was finished up with work for good, and that they can now travel all over, have time to cook good meals together, work on their house, garden, etc.. I listened and occasionally commented, "Yeah, that's great." I thought I was doing quite well - but then the euphoric recitations of how good life will be just went on too long. Something inside of me snapped and I could feel the lava start to flow. Pretty soon, I heard myself interjecting, "Yeah, well, that all sounds very pleasant, but not something I'll ever experience now that Don is dead and I'm left to struggle on alone for what's left of my life." This was followed by silence, and then some apologies at both ends of the telephone line. Of course, I (sort of) regret saying such a thing, but part of me isn't sorry in the least. Hey, it's the truth, isn't it?

    Anger is not such an inappropriate response to what has happened to us. It's just that it doesn't really get us anywhere, or solve anything. It erupts and you're left with the consequences - forest fires, burnt up villages, displaced people. However, I think there's some real danger in trying to repress it, thinking that it will just go away. As in the diagram that I linked to, I just don't believe it goes away that easily. There's a pretty big well of it to draw from, so it's not something we can burn off and be done with. I suspect it's here for the duration as I've seen it in people who lost a teen-aged son in an accident with a drunk driver, or in other similar situations. Beneath the most placid surface, the anger is always there, patiently waiting for a suitable vent pipe through which to erupt.

    What to do? That's the question we're all stuck having to deal with. Keep busy? Try to find ways to use up emotional energy so that we don't get overloaded? Try to balance the anger with some other emotion? Be sure we don't get stressed and fatigued to the point that our outer crust develops fissures that allow the magma to push its way to the surface at unexpected or inappropriate moments? Do the things that help us to feel normal so that the anger doesn't have a chance to build up steam?

    Regardless of what we do, I think the anger will still be with us, so we have to establish coping mechanisms. Also, I don't think it's such a bad thing to blow our stacks from time to time, but maybe a good idea to forewarn family and friends that a blow-out is coming up soon and not to take it personally regardless of how mad we may seem. I liken it all to scenes from movies about demon possessions where the protagonist is nice most of the time, but occasionally, a demon grabs the controls for awhile. That's how I feel when I'm in an angry mood. I have to remind myself that, basically, I'm still the smooth blue surface in the above-linked diagram, but that sometimes I just have to let the lava flow or the consequences might be worse - yeah, big and scary and worse.

  2. Hi Bev. The picture was a good visual about our 'below the surface anger.' My problem is that I don't always know that I have been supressing anger, and then almost out of nowhere, I erupt.

    At work I am known for being so calm, and always in control. It is at home that I don't always feel the need to control my emotions, and hence, up comes the concentrated anger that has been brewing for some time.

    Thanks for you thoughts on this, they are very helpful.