I often regret how many relationships I’ve had to go thru in my life. I know it’s a mistake to do this but I wish that I’d had one partner all along, who would have stood by me, seen my growth and changes, et cetera.
BUT that is not what’s happened. I am the only one who knows my story, and count on my friends to accept my history from my stories instead of experience.
My last relationship was underscored by anger. He was enraged daily over every thing that irked him, every thing from the labels on food to traffic snarls.
I would lean in to provide a listener to his anger, try to help him deal with it. It got to the point where almost every conversation with him was about anger. He’d call, I’d pick up the phone and ask how he was and he’d say, ANGRY. FRUSTRATED. PISSED OFF. That was literally the beginning of 90% of our conversations.
(I mean literally as literally, not exaggerating, just real and factual.) (Oh good grief, I’ll just say “actually.” That was actually 90% of our conversations.)
Me, caring, him, enraged. If he acted violent at all, like throwing something or striking a surface, I left. He got worse as time went on. It was one of the factors in my leaving him.
Now when my boyfriend gets pissy, I get up from my chair and move away. He can rage alone, I’m not interested in being part of that. If he asks for help I’ll be there, but I just don’t want anything to do with rage.
Likewise, if I get enraged, I leave. I go work it out, get to where I can think and have started to track the real feelings that lay under the anger. I’ll ask for help then, if I can’t finish the process that my therapist taught me.
My dogs taught me some of this. Princess was high strung. She frequently wanted to fight with things outside the fence or past the end of her leash. Harley was calmer and bore the brunt of her frustration.
He didn’t soothe her when she came at him, he fought just enough to protect himself. They would snap at each other, growl, rear up, bark, snap snap snap, then she would run off to stare at what had irritated her, what she couldn’t reach to fight with. Harley would sulk until she was done with her anger. She never hurt him.
You cannot lean in to rage. It’s dangerous, and to pay attention is to pay into its existence.
But, angry people need help. What is the right way? Sometimes anger is legitimate. Sometimes we should be there for angry people, right? or should we always wait for the cooling point, that turn of mind?
Anger comes from fear, sadness, or both. If you can, if you are motivated enough to dig under that layer of rage, then you’ve earned the right for help.