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. :-))))
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. :-)))))
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!!!