Friday, August 31, 2007

Anger Management

After writing the story about my brother, I remembered one time when I made him cry. Let me tell you this story first before I got to the "anger management" issue. We were playing in my parents' bedroom and for some reason he got me angry due to something I don't remember anymore. Back then I decided that instead of raising my voice to scold him, I would give him the "silent treatment".

I did my best by thinking of serious stuff while my brother did his best to try to make me smile again. He made faces and told jokes, but I wouldn't budge. I thought to myself that he deserved the silent treatment. Little did I know what it'd do to him. After a while, he gave up and CRIED!!! I was flabbergasted!!! I didn't mean to make him cry. I just wanted him to stop teasing me and leave me alone. You can imagine the guilt I felt back then. He cried as though I had done the most terrible thing to him. I guess the silent treatment was crueller than scolding him. Well, at least I learnt that the hard way.

On to my subject. Anger. Being angry isn't bad in itself, but you have to know how to channel it and how to project it. You mustn't project your anger to yourself to somebody else, either. We live, we learn. Have you ever snapped? Until I realized that I was capable of experiencing that, I had never understood the word "snapped".

When I was in Elementary School, I once snapped. I forgot what happened, but I think my brother teased me too much again, so I got mad. That split second I lost control of myself. I didn't even know what I was doing until after I was done doing it. I threw something to the floor HARD. Gladly it wasn't a plate or any dangerous item. I just felt this SURGE of emotion (kinda like when Donald Duck is angry, then you can see his hot-red blood surging up to his brain and he gets puffing mad - that was what I felt) and I lashed out.

Since then, I had promised myself NEVER to let me lose control like that again. Years went by without any anger management problem. Then about a year ago, it happened again on a fiercer scale.

You see, I had worked home as a translator in Bandung. That meant I spent almost all my days at home, except when I went out to the malls or church. That meant I was smack-dab in the war zone whenever my parents argued with each other. I don't remember them arguing much when I was younger, though. I know they had disagreements, but that's that.

Those of you who've read my blog early on would know what's happened to my Dad. During the past few years, he's undergone "power syndrome". In short, he used to be underestimated by SO MANY people at his work places (he had had several jobs in his lifetime), so he struggled so hard to prove them wrong. Thus he kind of attached his self-worth to his job. Plus he's a traditional man, so I guess he took it upon himself the responsibility of being the bread winner.

So for the past few years, my parents have argued more often than before since my Dad becomes super sensitive and he directs his anger towards Mom. He has also begun to forget some things lately, so he's also angry to himself as he can't remember many things. Being a traditional man means he's got a big ego. Sometimes when Mom gently reminds him to eat, he gets pissed off. Again it's a problem of projecting his anger towards somebody else.

Anyhow, they didn't argue every day, but since I was home, it was often enough to make my blood pumping and ears hot. One day they couldn't stop arguing. Dad wouldn't stop, even though Mom had said sorry. Dad kept on picking on Mom. Then I snapped. I kept on hitting on my computer desk with both palms forcefully to get their attention while YELLING at the top of my voice (they were in a different room).

I have to tell you that my voice didn't sound like my voice at all. It was like an out-of-this-world voice. I had never been able to yell loudly, but that one time my voice became SO booming and loud that I was shocked. Believe it or not, I did NOT know what I was saying. It was like something else was in control of my body. My brain wasn't processing what I was doing, it seemed. My voice became like the voice of an evil woman character in a Disney movie who got angry and yelled an order to her servant.

If I remember correctly, I was yelling these words while still hitting on the computer desk with full force, "STOP! STOP! STOP! Enough! When will you two stop acting like kids? You said it was enough but you kept on yelling at each other! Where is the love?!?!?!?!"

Then Dad walked into the computer room while saying something like, "What did you say? Stay out of this! Don't be disrespectful to your parents!"

I was amazed that he didn't yell the words out. You see, being a traditional hard-headed man, he would always raise his voice whenever he got into an argument or whenever somebody else tried to step in to stop it. However, that moment he didn't even yell at me. I guess he was too stunned by my force of anger (or my out-of-this-world voice) to yell back at me.

I remember YELLING something like this as a reply, "Oh, so I CAN'T say a thing, is that it?"

Dad replied, "Sure you can, but you don't have to shout."

I YELLED back, "Oh, right, but I can't change who I am. YOU're the one who kept on saying, 'Oh, this is just how I am, I can't change,' so guess what, this is also who I am!"

(Side note: He kept on saying that he was born that way, that's why he always raised his voice whenever he had an argument with Mom)

He stayed silent while I kept on pouring out my wrath. By this time, he had stopped near the doorway of the computer room.

I continued YELLING with Cruella de Vil's voice, "Do you know how uncomfortable I feel? If I try to stop the argument, you'll say, 'Oh, you're siding with Mom' or something like that. I'm SICK and TIRED of all this. Don't you know how bad it feels to hear the two of you arguing like that over and over again? It's SO TIRING, you know?!?!?!?!"

He stayed silent and backed off to the living room, too shocked to speak another word. My chest was heaving like crazy (it was as if I had done the toughest kind of exercise in my life) and at least realization washed over me and my hands started shaking. I could hear my Mom sniffling and crying in the bathroom (our house isn't THAT big). Dad sat on a chair and didn't do anything much.

For a FEW minutes I couldn't do anything much. My chest kept on heaving, blood pumping, and my hands were still shaking. Then I wrote an email to my closest friends, telling them what had happened. I just had to let it out of my system. I couldn't go straight back to translating in that state.

Finally I stopped shaking, my breathing got normal again, and I could think. You know what I was thinking? That moment I realized what "snapped" really meant and that some "good" people might experience the same thing. That moment I realized that anger management problem might lead people to kill. That people might kill not because of hatred or because they intended on doing so or because they were basically "bad", but because of the surge of wrath that blackened out their logic. I shivered, thinking of what I was "capable" of doing with anger. That night I was shivering again before I went to sleep, reliving the situation and still feeling stunned that my brain managed to "freeze" during those minutes. I just didn't know what came out of my mouth! Unbelievable!

My Dad refused to talk to me for a whole day. At first my ego kicked in and I told myself, "Fine, you don't want to talk to me, I don't want to talk to you, either." In another post, I'll explain how similar I am to him, so I can understand why he didn't want to talk to me. However, I relented finally as I didn't want to prolong the "silent treatment" to each other and there was this one occasion where I could talk to him naturally about something. He only grunted, but the next day he started talking to me again. :-))))

Post Note:

Tell me something, you never thought I was capable of doing something like this, did you? *wink* Well, unfortunately you're wrong.
I sure DO hope I'll NEVER EVER snap like that again, though. And I sure do hope my Dad manages to solve his anger management issues, as well. :-))))) It may take a while as I know he's been hurt and he has to adjust to being a retired man, but I know with God, nothing is impossible. :-)))))

Additional Note:

I remembered being amazed that during those minutes of yelling, I didn't cry. Usually whenever I felt that frustrated and angry, I'd cry while talking. I think I did shed tears after I calmed down, after my breathing started to get normal again, after I processed what had actually happened.

Another thing I remember when I got SOOOOO angry back then was that I almost lost faith in marriage (even though I wasn't married yet back then, but I had planned a wedding already). My cynical side, the latent enemy of mine, reared its ugly head and tried to convince me that people would change and they would be defensive and hurt the ones they loved the most, etc. etc. etc. Gladly the cynicism subsided!!! PHEW!!!


  1. You write an excellent post on a very salient topic. The "anger experience" when I was growing up was completely different.
    I grew up in a loving family. Now, as a adults, we get along great, we get along with Mom & Dad and everything seems "hunky dory".
    My dad owned and worked on his farm. He was his own boss. My mother was the accountant of the farm and did many of the tasks needed including being a homemaker. Althought they were loving parents, they allowed a lot of yelling among the kids.
    Life revolved around the farm. We were church-going, pray to God at meals type of people, but we almost considered successful farming a religion as well. At the tender age of 7 or 8, all 7 of us kids were were thrown into the workplace and worked hard feeding and milking cows, cleaning the barn & doing other tasks.
    There was lots of yelling. We yelled at each other (& mostly my older brothers yelled at me because I was being lazy)we yelled at the cows and a lot of the times we even hit the cows. It didn't seem like a big deal because the cows were such big strong animals they didn't care if we yelled at them and since they were 1,500 pounds, they didn't really think we hit hard either.
    But there were a lot of explosive tempers from this environment.
    To get back to what you were saying, you said anger MUST be channelled and harnessed the right way. Well, on the farm, yelling was a "way of life". Yelling was so common that no one really thought it was even bad. In fact, since our farm did very well and my father could even be considered "rich", my family considered yelling as part of doing well on the farm.
    When I got older the first thing I wanted to do as an adult was leave the farm. & one of the things I discovered is that yelling and getting very angry isn't that normal, and most people think yelling is bad.
    There were a lot of adjustments I had to make, and to this day, it's hard to channel my anger in the proper way. I yell very very rarely. At work, I would even be considered one of the leaders at the law firm. So in some respects I have learned how to handle anger.
    It's still a problem at times when I deal with my ex-wife, but that has improved too. I could write a whole post about my ex-wife's anger management and how when the 2 of us got together, our anger management would be pretty dysfunctional at times.

    But, anyway, you picked a very good topic. I was very interested in the way you handled anger. I was impressed that you showed your anger so rarely that you felt like a different person. The problem is when you show your anger so often that it's second nature. Sadly enough, I've been around people like that.

  2. Vince: WOW!!! THANKS A LOT for sharing your experiences. I get to see a different perspective from you.
    You've got a HUGE family, btw!!! ;-D

    I'm glad you've come so far when it comes to yelling and anger management with your wife. :-)))

    Yeah, gladly I didn't have too many opportunities to be angry. I wouldn't know what I'd become if I had grown up in a completely different environment, but I stick to my point: we live, we learn. Sometimes the hard way, but it's better than never. ;-D

  3. Hi Amel! That was very interesting and no, I didn't think you would react that way. People who know me (in person) think I am the most quiet, controlled and calm person. But I do remember one time when something like that happened to me when my daughter was in those turbulant teenage years. When it was over, it really scared me to know that I could get that angry. Thankfully, I kept the presence of mind not to hit or anything like that, but she would tell you today that she was afraid of me in that moment. So, I can relate to your story!

  4. Kathy: THANKS for sharing your story and leaving a comment.

    Yes, I know what you mean!!! Everybody I know would also say I'm a quiet, calm, and controlled person. I guess we have our "moments", eh? ;-D

    It must've been hard dealing with teenagers. Being a stubborn and rebellious girl myself, I know I've been more pain in the ass for my parents than my brother ever had he he he...

  5. Hey Amel. I didn't get angry or as much before but now when I am angry I see a red haze - my brain gets ht and everything is a motion blur I have to scream or throw something to get under control. It's really a scary thing - anger as it feed on itself you get angry and chemicals are released inside causing a rush and ten that builds until you start to enjoy that feeling of high intensity. It is a damn scary thing - as it destroys so much

  6. Amber: THANKS for sharing your personal story. Red haze, eh? Now that's something I've never heard before. And yeah, when anger "controls" you, it becomes SO scary indeed. I'm glad you don't get angry as much as before. Everybody has different issues to tackle, I suppose. May we grow wiser and graceful along the years.

  7. Ah Amel! It happens, i think we just try and take so much in stride that it builds up and overwelms us. We have to learn that when these things start bothering us is when we speak up so it doesn't get to the point of explosion (wish the politicians knew that!)

    Nowadays when I get really angry I get dizzy and faint, hence me learning to identify things early.

  8. Vic: You're one wise woman, Vic. :-)))

    I guess I was hoping that they'd stop arguing before I "had to" explode, but they kept on doing it. I didn't feel sorry about what I said, but I just didn't like the way I said those things.

    The problem brother once tried "talking" to Dad, but being a traditional man that he is, it became an argument instead of a discussion. Oh well...

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  10. I appreciate your father; he used great technique to solve anger management issues. I also suggest you some anger management tips they are following:-

    • Take a few slow, deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing.
    • Imagine yourself at the beach, by a lake, or anywhere that makes you feel calm and peaceful.
    • Try other thoughts or actions that have helped you relax in the past.

    For more information visit:-

  11. Benedicta: THANKS for dropping by and sharing some anger management tips. ;-D