I couldn’t believe my luck. My good luck that is.
The Indian train conductor had just sprinted though my carriage and locked himself in the train engine in front.
I guessed there was a racial problem, as; hot on his heels, two young white men also burst into the carriage.
When the two men realized they couldn’t pursue the conductor through the locked door, they milled restlessly around the half-filled carriage.
The other passengers were studiously avoiding eye-contact with the two men.
I, in the meantime, was thinking Santa Claus had finally delivered my rightful prey. “Thank you, thank you, thank you” I thought – filled with happy anticipation.
You may think my reaction to my carriage being invaded by racist thugs was strange. But you need to consider the circumstances.
I was struggling to re-engage with university while simultaneously coping with a marriage separation as shitty as my marriage. There was a surfeit of unchanneled rage.
Presumably fueled by stress, anxiety, anger, grief, and insomnia; I noticed I was having violent urges towards my fellow students.
These urges usually arose when I was being physically jostled during the human rush hour between lectures. Being a recent immigrant from the sparsely-populated country, I struggled with the human crush.
But sometimes, less understandably, the violent urges arose when my fellow students simply annoyed me.
On one such occasion I was seated opposite three female students on a university shuttle. They were irritating me by being silly – giggling about such trivialities as boys, clothes, and make-up. Clearly they were not cognizant, as I was, of the serious privilege of being able to attend university.
I fantasized about delivering a palm-heel strike to the base of their noses. That would shut them up.
It’s OK. I am not typing this in prison. I didn’t do it.
I mentioned this to a friend, thinking she would find it funny. Strangely, she was more concerned than amused.
You know it’s not normal to be thinking those things. Right?
As stressed and sleep-deprived as I was at the time, I think it highly unlikely I would have assaulted an innocent member of the public, no matter how irritating.
But assaulting a criminal!!! Now that would be OK.
Dexter-like, I felt I could legitimately assault someone if they were in the act of committing a crime. It shouldn’t even matter too much if I accidentally killed them.
In hindsight, I’m embarrassed by these stress-fueled thoughts. I have compassion for anyone who is driven by upbringing or circumstance to commit crime. Even racist thugs.
Please bear in mind that my violent thoughts were the thoughts of a severely and chronically stressed former police officer. One who has left a 10 year abusive relationship and was struggling to rebuild a shattered life in an unfamiliar academic setting.
But, at the time, I found that whenever I went into a bank I was hoping for a robbery. I felt I could legitimately release my pent-up violence during a robbery.
But the bank robbers rudely stayed away, which is why I was beside myself with glee when I had two thugs milling around my train carriage. They were Fair Game.
I decided that as soon as they started hassling my fellow passengers, I would take one of them out with a carotid restraint hold. This was my favourite hold when I was in the police. It was 100% effective at getting men much larger than me off their feet. I understand it’s now illegal.
But I didn’t get to apply the carotid hold. To my bitter despair, the two thugs didn’t hassle the other passengers.
The train had stopped. The men struggled to prise open the jammed train doors. Eventually they succeeded and ran off down the station platform.
Despite being cheated of my rightful prey, you’ll be glad to know I have managed to restrain my violent urges. I have assaulted neither thugs nor innocent members of the public. That is: innocent of anything other than annoying me.
Unfortunately I was quite easily annoyed.
This was over a decade ago. It’s work in progress, but I’ve dramatically reduced my anger. Friends have spontaneously commented that I seem calmer and more grounded.
These days I’m more assertive. I’m better at noticing how I’m feeling. I’m better at talking about how I’m feeling angry, rather than being angry.
This blog post is an introduction to Anger 101. There are many complementary strategies to reducing anger. I’ll outline the details of how I reduced my anger in future blog posts.
In the meantime, how’s your anger?
A critical precursor to managing our anger is acknowledging it.
This can be tough, if, like me, you like to think of yourself as a calm and reasonable person.
Of course women get this a lot from society in general – we are supposed to be calm and nurturing and gentle. Thinking of others before ourselves.
This sets us up to be passive-aggressive. We experience resentment that we can’t express to others, let alone acknowledge to ourselves.
However I know both men and women who can’t acknowledge their anger, because they don’t want to be like them. ‘Them’ being an angry parent or caregiver.
I have passed through the horror of realizing that I was just like them. I survived.
I’ve owned my anger. I’m more aware of it. I’ve been able to reduce it. A lot.
A less angry life is a much better life. Show me an angry person and I’ll show you a lonely person.
I was lonely. But less anger equals more love.
A lot more love.
Go get it.
What do you think? I know it can help others knowing they are not they only ones struggling. If you would like to share how angry or abusive relationships have affected your relationships and your own anger – and any tips you’ve learned along the way Please leave a comment below.
Other, slightly interesting posts:
Why Gorgeous Man is a top-shelf lover This needs updating – it was annoying my girlfriends and their partners – but it’s evergreen content
What is the best gift you can ever give someone? If this article had an accompanying photo it would be a picture of a cute baby Tyrannosaurus Rex. (Well, how do you say ” This article has a serious & important message presented in a heart warming way”, without making it sound mind-numbingly boring?)
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