I’m not very nice to my husband often (and also my son, sometimes). Yet I love them both deeply.
I find myself getting angry and irritated by the most trivial of things which leads me to lose my temper and lash out and say horrible things. I keep thinking that I must try and control myself and be a nicer person but I don’t change. I have a responsible job and manage a team of people and at work I am mostly calm, though I have a bit of a reputation for being fiery and tough. My husband is the most patient and kind person and I feel like I’m taking advantage of his generous nature, as I love this about him yet sometimes I get annoyed by it. Am I goading him into a reaction and if so why? I read once that you allow people to treat you in whatever way they do and this annoyed me about my husband as he rarely challenges my behaviour towards him allowing himself to be treated like this. Yet I’m worried that I’ll drive him away and one day he’ll have had enough. Often I feel ashamed of my behaviour but rarely apologise. It’s just not nice being like this. I want to be a nicer person.
Don’t we all! Quite honestly what’s not to be angry about? We live in a maniacal world where almost everything seems set up to deliberately bring us to the very edge of reason, so it’s little wonder it seeps back into our homes! The sort of human interaction we’ve enjoyed for thousands of years is fast slipping from our grasp, replaced by an invisible but unbreachable technological wall. It seems a sick joke that the potential for increased ‘communication’ is what we’re all celebrating, when the real thing is less prevalent than ever in our history. Trying to negotiate the No Access labyrinths that most corporations have become is a major contributing factor. I wouldn’t willingly strike up a conversation with my super smart Samsung washing machine but that’s exactly what British Rail expect me to do every time I try to get through. Whether it’s online banking or incorrect billing, Internet shopping or computer meltdowns the vast majority of the developed world is locked into daily combat with inanimate objects and man-made systems. If you were able to view our tragic self-inflicted demise dispassionately, like a computer say, or an alien, you’d laugh at the stupidity with which we’re racing into our own self-perpetuating nightmare with only the pleasure of sharing Instagram’s with strangers to show for it.
Everybody is angry and nobody is talking about it. It’s ironically a major difference between the first world and the rest of the world. Travelling to far-flung and underfunded parts of our planet you’ll witness extreme poverty and deprivation, violent regimes and terrible corruption but nowhere near our levels of frustration and fury. Instead it’s in our privileged corner of the globe that you can see perfectly placid people erupt like volcano’s over minor incidents and witness strangers stress-levels rise faster than spring tides on one-sided mobile conversations on public transport. I say all this only to point out that when it comes to rage surges, we’re experiencing an epidemic and so it’s no surprise it’s invading our homes and making bullies of the put upon.
When Ruby Wax first started banging on about mindfulness I stuck my fingers in my ears and thought new age nonsense, blah, blah, blah. Now I’m absolutely convinced she is the Messiah. We all need to slow the hell down, take a deep breath and remember where the pleasure of being alive is to be found. Watching a sunrise, seeing your kids smile, enjoying a joke with friends, experiencing the sound of silence all bring profound pleasure; not spending an afternoon in a technology store being aurally blasted by bad music while buying yet another device you’ll need a degree to master! So much of what happens in our domestic lives is the result of stress we absorb and import unwittingly from outside the front door.
Naturally there are experts in the field of anger management to talk to and it’s worth consulting a doctor, as there can also be plausible physical reasons for emotional outbursts; underlying depression or menopause are just two of a long list. You’ve written me a letter; you know you’re in the wrong, so I suspect you’re already embarked on the road to recovery. Rage is as instinctive as fear and as unpredictable as love but like all our emotions, can be honed, deflected and diffused.
Make it your mantra to pause, ponder and only then react; it works often enough to make it worth the struggle!