Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Clearly I am not Bruce Banner, physically I may resemble him (read the source material)but that is where it ends, I won’t be flying into an uncontrollable rage while turning green and growing in to a 10 foot tall mass of muscled destruction. While it does sound like a tremendous amount of fun it seems like such a hassle, what with all the police and insurance companies, I’ll pass.
Recently I heard from close friends. “Brother I have never seen you so visibly pissed off.” A few hours later I was asked “Where does it go? What do you do with your anger?” I made a joke in answer to it but honestly it probably would affect my health if I was prone to frequent bouts of outrage. I recalled a car ride last fall where a friend pointed out “You don’t really get mad.” I hadn’t thought too much of it because we had barely seen each other in 20 years, sure I get mad. I don’t splatter it all over social media, I don’t have an arrest record, restraining orders or anger management classes as evidence. Truth is I used to fly off the handle pretty easy, mostly I’d get mouthy and offensive, that often times led to several pissed off people willing to get destructive on me. Hindsight being 20/20 I deserved it, not that I was not provoked initially but it wasn’t always by those I lashed out at and when that unfortunate transference happened I certainly earned not only my reputation as an asshole but the bruises as well.
I didn’t have much of a social life in those days, to say it bothered me would be an understatement. One particularly frustrating evening I took a hard look at myself and realized I had to change, I had to adjust my actions, pardon me, my reactions. I had to learn to empathize with people and their side of things, to not put how I would treat people on them, instead I learn how they act and anticipate that they will behave like they have behaved. The later works great with friends and family it cuts down on a great deal of disappointment and drama.
I am happy to say it worked. My social life expanded, I found I had an ability to channel things in to humour, busting balls instead of ripping apart egos, or trying to. Girls started talking to me, I even managed to get laid before I graduated high school (disclaimer: there is a future article on that, the graduated part not the loss of virginity). This all isn’t to say I was instantly bullet proof, certain people and things still got under my skin and I didn’t always handle it well, of course I can tell stories about times I asked nicely for antagonists to lay off and when that wasn’t respected I did go off. The point is I was learning to manage it better.
I think the big turning point was one night, as I lay in bed, I realized that people spend a lot of time talking about their friends that aren’t there, some of it good, some not so much but it occurred to me that one of my big insecurities was what others were saying about me when I wasn’t there, not necissarily behind my back but that too. There I lay and I finally got that it can’t be helped. Those that like me will talk about me, those that don’t will talk about me, not like I am the only thing they will discuss but at some point I will come up in conversation from time to time. I still get invited out, get dates, have friends. I stopped letting drama and non-sense rile me up, I may get annoyed or frustrated with such things but I let it roll off my back and I have become quite adept at cutting of the negative feelings at frustration or annoyance rather than let the little things send me right into full blown anger, it is to the point where things that probably should piss me off, just don’t, it’s not worth letting ‘that guy’ out again, he’s a douche nozzle.
You want to see me visibly pissed off, like recently, start Saturday morning with idiocy and drama, stack dozens of more minor irritations and insults on it, wrap it in some stress, shenanigans of four children and let it simmer for a week as you add more frustrations to the pot and serve with a lack of sleep and physically exhausting day.
About a decade ago, I was watching one of my favorite movies, alone, as a newly single father and the true wisdom of a joke in a buddy cop movie washed over me so allow me to share this pearl of wisdom, had I understood it would have saved me years of tension, from Lethal Weapon 2: Capt. Murphy: I don’t give a fuck, Riggs. That’s why I don’t have an ulcer, because I know when to say “I don’t give a fuck.”