There are days when you just want to run away from it all. Unfortunately, when you have several of those days in a row, you may begin to feel a certain amount of uncontrollable rage and a general hatred of your fellow man. Extreme stress and angst leads to all manner of destructive behaviors for me. I find myself yelling at my kids for minor infractions. I am hateful to my husband and find passive-aggressive ways to needle him and get under his skin. My wine-intake increases and my patience decreases. I hate myself for acting this way, which adds self-loathing to the list of unhealthy and destructive feelings. To break this ugly cycle, I have to reboot my system somehow. This doesn’t make my problems go away, but it does help me to put them into perspective and calms my mind enough to re-engage with the world on a rational level.
Today has been a trial, and it’s not even lunchtime! Other humans are difficult to understand and to deal with for me. Often I feel as though I am stuck in the middle of a circle of babbling idiots. I want to smack the woman who berates her progeny in the grocery aisle; I want to flip off that aggressive driver who tailgates and endangers my kids. I control these impulses for the most part. I guess this is the price we all must pay as sentient and social creatures. Here are some of the ways that I relieve the pressure of fury that boils my blood:
- Cry. I almost never cry. This stems from some ugliness in my childhood where crying was a form of vulnerability that I didn’t allow myself to show. When I start to cry, I feel a mixture of shame and anger. So, what I try to do is hide and let it all out in private. What sucks is that crying makes my face puffy, my nose bright-red, and my skin splotchy. I need a good couple of hours alone to compose myself. This is something I have to work on, because it’s nice to have someone to hold you during these moments to absorb and acknowledge your sadness. After a good cry, it feels like I have released a lot of the tensions and worry, so I know that it’s a good thing to do once in a while.
- If you have been done wrong, confront the offender. Okay, I have done this, oh…maybe twice-but it felt really good! Yeah, I’m not much on face-to-face confrontation. It depends on the situation, I think. For instance, my mother-in-law is the biggest thorn in my side in a lot of ways. I love her and she loves me, which is awesome. But she pisses me off more than any person in the world, other than my own mother. The thing about these two mothers is that neither of them will ever change their ways, at least not due to anything that I say. If, however, the person who has pissed me off is my husband, I let him know for the most part. This is better than simmering anger, which causes me to go off on him over something trivial that has nothing to do with the real issue. Also, it makes me appear unhinged, which leads him to ask me if I am “PMSing.” Now, that REALLY infuriates me!
- Write it down. If I can’t confront the object of my rage, I unleash all of my venom in a stream-of-consciousness screed of cursing and name-calling. Nothing is out of bounds. I have called people vile names and cursed them with boils and prolapsed uteruses. Every little thing that I hate about them is put down in black and white. I draw little stick-figures of the objects of my anger and decapitate them and gouge out their eyes. My enemies have been vaporized in nuclear disasters, been washed away by tsunamis of fire, and have been relegated to the deepest circle of hell. After I have utterly destroyed my foes, I ball up the paper and burn it. This erases all trace of my murderous intent, and has the added bonus of actually burning an effigy of my foe. This step is vital. Never, ever leave evidence like this lying around!
- Give myself a day-pass. Being an introvert, I would love nothing better than an entire day of silence and solitude. For some reason, it’s hard to ask for this “me-time.” Women in particular often feel guilty for getting overwhelmed by the responsibilities of work and family. I wait to the point of mental breakdown to do something for myself. I know that I am short-changing myself and my family when I fail to take care of myself. I recognize this and I am working on it. Even if I can’t leave or be alone, I will let my husband know that I will be taking an hour-long bubble bath with an iPod blasting away all of the sounds of a chaotic home. One downside to this method of escape is that we have one bathroom and someone inevitably needs to poop as soon as I settle down into the bubbles. Note: solo trips to the grocery store do not count as alone-time!
- Pet my kitty. It’s remarkably relaxing and soothes my tortured soul. This can be taken in a couple of different ways, which is okay, since I think the concept works in either scenario.
- Don’t watch the news. It’s nothing but bad news. There’s always some heartbreaking story of child-abuse or animal-neglect that makes me want to execute some assholes. And nothing depresses me more than the current state of politics and public discourse in our country. When I am already in a negative frame of mind, I don’t need to turn on the TV and witness more reasons to despair. I have to include reading those same stories on the Internet as well. Just don’t do it!
- Ask for help. Okay, this a really big one that I have a hard time with, and part of the reason I am pissed a lot of the time. Part of me wants to handle it all on my own. I want things done my way and I like to be in control. I have a certain way of folding laundry, a specific way I like my dishes washed, the list of my peeves goes on forever. It is hard to admit that I need help. I also don’t always have someone to ask. My kids’ grandparents are not very involved in their lives, my friends live far away. Often, the only person I can count on is my husband, who has a lot on his plate as well. Back in the day, extended families and neighbors helped each other. Today, not so much. But for me, just talking to someone about my problems helps, which is why it’s nice to have a good girlfriend to bitch to and commiserate with. Luckily, my sister and I take turns listening to each other.
- Count my blessings. I live in a beautiful town nestled in the Appalachian mountains, with outdoor festivals, about a dozen craft beer breweries, and a vibrant music-scene. My home, though a bit cramped for my big family, is cozy and full of laughter. My goofy kids are not ashamed to hold my hand in public. My husband still flirts with me after 17 years together. I look younger than my 38 years and still get carded for alcohol. I have a few good friends that didn’t desert me after I began to procreate. My sense of humor and joy for life has never dimmed, even though I have faced a lot of tragedy and hardship in my life. I have many more things to be thankful for, and contemplating them helps to center and ground me.
- Be silly and have fun. I like to crank up the music and jam to old 80s songs and rock out to metal. I show my kids my old dance moves and sing at the top of my lungs. Sometimes we go downtown, where hippies, rednecks and urban hipsters co-mingle, which makes for great people-watching. It so happens there’s a great little family-friendly place we go that has hot wings, pitchers of beer, and outdoor seating that’s perfect for glimpsing strange life-forms.
These are a few of the things I do (or know I should do) to relieve the pressure-cooker of anger, resentment, and stress that sometimes plagues my existence. I have also tried to “unfriend” toxic people, though that’s not always an option when it comes to family. This has dwindled my circle down to only a few people, but at least those people don’t bring me down. There are always going to be challenges in life and difficult people to deal with, but I guess it’s all worth it to be a part of the human race. Maybe. For now, I am going to go torture a little battalion of stick-figures like a vengeful and omnipotent god.