“I don’t have an anger problem!”
That’s what I thought, anyway. But when I came home from work one day many years ago, and I saw that my daughter had been dusting and vacuuming the room where I kept my guitar – I went into my “inspection” mode. I searched for missing or misplaced objects, and lo and behold – my plastic guitar picks were nowhere to be seen.
I declared an emotional state of emergency, and began interrogating my young daughter as to the whereabouts of these apparently priceless and irreplaceable pieces of triangular plastic. I will never forget the look on her face as I ranted; it was sheer terror.
And I marveled that she was having such a big reaction to what I thought was a normal line of questioning.
I had been part of a support group for a number of months at the time, and the subject of anger issues had come up more than once. Thankfully, it had come up enough times to cause me to step back and consider that the look on her face was probably a good indicator of the way I was coming across. So, the more I observed her nervousness and frantic searching for my guitar picks, I saw clearly that I was unleashing on her a rage that vastly overstated; it was a burst of anger she did not deserve.
Later that evening we were all raking leaves in the backyard, and after resisting for a while I finally relented and went over to her and apologized. You always win when you do the right thing by another person.
Of course, I was left with a stark reality, its visage lingering before my face, i.e. I had raised my children in this kind of anger; it was the norm for them.
When you choose to face your anger it is not a pretty sight, not a “walk in the park.” It is more like major surgery without anesthesia. But a refusal to face your anger is terminal; terminal for you, and terminal for the relationships in which you express that anger.
Excruciating pain for a while . . . then health, peace, and the recovery of beautiful relationships. Or . . . painful relationships, frustrating and explosive encounters, on and on, over and over, until you die. The end.
Not much of a choice, is it?
But you get to make it.
What will you choose?