One thing that I realized (not for the first time) as I was talking to my mom last night is that I can be very very cruel when I’m upset. I don’t yell, I don’t say “I hate you!”, I just point out ways in which you have failed or disappointed me, and the consequences of the failure. I don’t deliberately set out to destroy; but when I am hurt or angry I do seek to cause pain. I humiliate by picking at the points which are most tender. Sometimes my barbs are marvelously subtle – I’ll just start talking about desires of mine which have been stymied, directly or indirectly, by your actions, and let you draw the implications on your own. It’s the flip-side of empathy, this ability to tear someone apart with a few words, this sensitivity to weakness.
I don’t know why I am driven to lash out when I’m upset; it doesn’t accomplish anything. Drawing attention to the things I harbor resentment for doesn’t magically fix them. I’d like to put an end to this habit. A little voice in my head yells “therapy!” as usual, but I think it’s simpler than that. I can talk in circles about my past for hours on end, but this is something I need to just. stop. doing.
I doubt if anyone besides Stacey and maybe my parents has really experienced this side of me. It has only ever manifested towards people who are extremely close to me, and Stacey is the only person to ever get that close for any length of time.
do you realise you are being cruel while you are doing it? or does it seem like a natural flow of normal frustration at the time and later you realise it was brutal?
I’m pretty self-aware, so yeah, there’s usually a little part of me that’s at least dimly aware of what I’m doing.
It’s hard to explain. It’s not like I’m consciously thinking out what I’m going to say for maximum pain. But at the same time there’s still a hint of choice, a microsecond moment when I give in to the overwhelming urge to give vent to my (seemingly) righteous anger. It’s almost like a reflex, but one that could, at least theoretically, be overrulled with conscious control. And if I don’t have the opportunity to take it out on her immediately, it usually fades away pretty quickly.
Hm. I think I know precisely what you’re talking about, or at least, how it feels when it happens. “Hot-headedness” directly affecting your judgment in a way that you don’t even want to prevent. It’s like, you have the choice, but most of the time your conscious sense of ‘choice’ becomes influenced by the anger itself.
just a possibility
in general, do you feel comfortable with anger as an emotion? my guess/first theory is no.
for those who feel very constrained to not be angry, that rage presents a very small window for it all to escape, a brief moment where that strict internal control can lapse, and everything comes out like a deadly laser, full force narrow diameter.
whereas those of us more comfortable with feeling/expressing anger dont have that kind of backup, nor that internal feeling of “if i dont give in right now, i will miss my chance to really vent anything of substance at all”
reduce your guilt/distaste for feeling anger and i would bet it will reduce the toxicity of it when it does comes out.
Re: just a possibility
You’re not the first person to suggest I might need to stop just stuffing my anger away in recent days.
I didn’t really have very good anger-management modeled to me as a kid, and my reaction to it was to avoid it – both by refraining from expressing it and being around people who are angry a lot.
I do get angry a lot, but after a few seconds or minutes it tends to lapse into annoyance and then into apathy.
I really need to take the advice that I gave to Stacey a long time ago and learn to express my anger as “I feel angry when you…” rather than as “you suck”. I really don’t understand the perverse urge to hurt someone when I’m angry. It seems so pointless when viewed objectively.
Re: just a possibility
not pointless, simply heavyhanded and against your own longterm interests. on a strictly practical level, it punishes someone for making you angry, which in most cases will make them less likely to do the same thing again. however it also tends to drive said people away, either emotionally or entirely.
and i agree how it is said is vital. “I wish you would clean X more often” has a much different effect than “you’re a fucking slob”
So you become a guard of Azerkhaban and suck away?
So maybe you need your equivalent of a “patronis” eh?
Or at least something, or some keyword to make you pause and say… “okay, let me pause for a while and then come back and perhaps have a different mindset?”
We used to use “time out” when one or the other was feeling things were getting too heated. It worked very well, but I suppose it wasn’t terribly satisfactory as far as giving vent to anger.
Well, maybe I haven’t experienced that from you, but I’ll tell you what, I know exactly what you mean because I do the exact. same. thing.
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