Our Little Ol' Family

Our Little Ol' Family

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Been a Long, Long Time...

Sorry it's been so long since I've written.  I'm not really sure why I haven't been updating.  Part of it is that I share many things on Facebook as they happen.  But part of it is because I often go 'deeper' here, and I haven't felt like sharing deeper things lately.  Well, I HAVE actually felt like sharing deeper things, but was afraid I might go into too much detail, or that I might mention something that might hurt someone's feelings, or something of the sort. Does that make sense?

I've mentioned in the past how I absolutely hate having to deal with angry people.  I know much of that stems from the fact that I grew up in a household with a dad who was full of rage about every little thing, and you never knew what kind of thing would set him off.  I never remember one day where he didn't get VERY angry about something, and I hated that. I feel angry sometimes, but it is very much against my nature to show that anger in an unkind fashion. You can be angry without being a jerk, is how I feel about it. My mom used to put up with my Dad's crap without giving it back to him.  Now she kind of wishes she would have. I don't think that would have worked, though.  I think it would have made things worse, but who knows?

I once had a friend who is a counselor ask me, "Are you a peace maker or a peace keeper, because they are different?"  I told him, "I'm equally both."  He said, "No, people are usually either one or the other." I thought about it some more and decided I really AM equally both of those: peace maker AND peace keeper.  That makes life kinda hard sometimes, especially when dealing with angry people, which has been a LOT for me lately.

Why do some people act so angry? I once heard it said, "Anger is the easiest emotion." Maybe, but that's not a good enough excuse. I think some people act angry as a way to control other people. "You don't listen to me unless I yell." Sometimes people act angry to push others away. "If I yell, people leave me alone."

Angry people, for the most part, hate to be met with logical discussion. If you try to defuse the situation, some angry people actually escalate. You wish you could send them to 'time out' to cool off and then you could talk logically, as you do with children; but what do you do when they are grown ups?

It's really difficult when you don't know what situation may set off the anger of another person. It may be something that, on another day, would be met with no reaction at all, but when the person is already upset about something else, they may blow up at you about something inconsequential you've done. It seems like it really doesn't matter what you do when the person is primed to explode; they are going to find something to legitimize their anger. I remember feeling that a lot with my dad. A few months ago, I was cooking some eggs.  When I turned one of the eggs, the yolk broke. Immediately, the thought came to my mind about my dad blowing up at my mom because of a broken egg yolk on his morning plate. (Happened numerous times.) At those times, was it really about the egg yolk? Well, maybe for him, because if someone gave him something less than perfect, he took that as a lack of respect; even if they gave you their very best. But for the average angry person, maybe they are upset about something else and use that flaw to have an outlet for their anger.  Do they even realize they are doing that? Do they care if it's a legitimate reason? In those cases, it feels like it really doesn't matter what you do, it will never be good enough. I have felt that a lot over the years.

I was always a straight A (they were actually called 'E's' back then) student. I helped around the house. I didn't complain about what we had for dinner. I started my own lawn business at age 12 mowing 18 lawns on a rotation to buy my own clothes, etc. I later added babysitting and being a waitress to that equation; all while maintaining the good grades. I remember a specific instance where I had mowed a bunch of yards one morning but had to waitress that evening, so I took a bath before work.  Something happened at work (cleaning up a spill or something of the sort), and I had to bathe again when I got home. My dad threw a fit because my excessive bath taking was going to increase the water bill, and he expected me to pay the difference. I did. When I went off to college on a full-ride scholarship, I called my parents to let them know that I made it there okay and had gotten moved in. I had to call collect because I didn't have a calling card and there was no such thing as cell phones back then. When I came home for my first visit 6 weeks later, the phone bill was on my dresser with the collect call charge highlighted and the estimated part of the taxes for that phone call were added to it. I paid it with exact change, and never called home again during my whole time in college, until I had my own phone my Senior year. (I did send lots of letters, though.)

In high school, I wanted to be part of everything I could be. I loved Student Council, marching band, softball, and choir, etc. Marching band practice was before school; I think we had to be there at 6:15AM. I wasn't allowed to go into the kitchen that early in the morning because I might wake my dad.  (I made that mistake once, and only once.) I would buy myself a box of off-brand Pop-Tarts to keep in my room, and would have a cup with instant coffee crystals, dry creamer, and sugar that I would make to have in my room.  In the mornings, I would just add hot water to my coffee, and the breakfast issue was solved. I was used to dealing with the anger and finding ways to avoid it. I ate my 'breakfast' and walked that mile to band practice. He wouldn't allow my mom to drive me to or from any extra curricular activities. I always found a way to get where I needed to be, usually by walking or borrowing a bike from a friend.

I used to get so aggravated at my older brother because he didn't seem to recognize those things that might set our dad off on a tirade. I have many vivid memories from early in life, and sometimes, even at 2 years old, I would instruct my 4 year old brother in what to do and what not to do to keep the peace. I remember trying to change the subject at meal time to avoid a subject that might cause conflict. Needless to say, my big brother thought I was awfully bossy. That really wasn't the case; I was just trying to protect him from getting into trouble. He never did figure out how to keep the peace with Dad; or maybe he just didn't care. He went through so much rebellion in his teen years and into his adult life. He died of an accidental drug overdose at age 39.

So, why be angry and explode and throw a fit? What does it accomplish, other than pushing other people away? It's okay (and normal) to get angry. It brings to mind a Bible verse, "Be angry, and yet do not sin." The next time you start to lose your temper and yell or cuss or throw things or slam doors or whatever, stop and think if that part of it is really necessary.  Be the grown-up and talk things through, instead.