Krissie: Anger

That’s my disgusted look. Not that I’m disgusted. That’s just the look I felt like practicing.
Great session with my shrink. I’ve been seeing her for … god, maybe 12 years. Since before my son got into drugs. She knows me well, knows what I do and what I need help with.
I told her I was afraid the only thing I could do, to force the situation, was to resort to a screaming, crying, hysterical fit. Which not only makes me physically sick, but leads to depression, which could lead to a clinical depression. I don’t want that if I can help it.
But I digress.

Let me talk about anger. I don’t like it and I’m not comfortable with it. I don’t remember if I tended to get mad as a kid. I think I was verbally, quietly nasty rather than raging, which in a way is worse. I’m good at words (my mother used to say I had a cat o’ nine-tails tongue – for those of you who aren’t as pretentious as my family a cat o’ nine-tails was a medieval whip) and the right words can rip someone. I was so good at cruel words that my BFF would go a year or more without speaking with me during elementary school (and then went 20 years without talking to me as adults).
The other things we all did in our family was leave nasty notes for each other. We all could write, and take cheap shots because in a note no one can answer back, and you can phrase things beautifully so that you’re the hero or heroine and they’re the villain.

But when I was about nineteen I went through a transformation. I had gone into a depression, and my awful doctor was trying all sorts of meds on me. Horrible meds, that I didn’t want to take, which made me worse. And when I came through it (just as Sergeant Pepper came out and “Here Comes the Sun” and “I have to admit it’s getting better” were my songs) I decided not to lie (I was brought up by my parents to lie — they had me lying to the other parent and I watched them lie all the time). From age 20 on I didn’t lie. And I didn’t feel as strong a need to cut and slash with my tongue. I refused to write notes. (I also went through a period, as I was coming out of it, when I couldn’t fantasize, which was horrible, and I couldn’t pray, when I’d prayed to a benevolent god all my life).
But I digress. As I moved into my 20s I started to see what my words did. And what my need to pass judgment on people did. And I stopped that too. I kept the honesty, but tried to couch it in kinder terms (not always succeeding).
But without the cutting words and nasty notes I’ve had no way to deal with anger. Actually, I’m remembering that even before the year when I was twenty (or 19, actually) I was afraid to lose my temper. I was afraid that if I lost it, let it rip, that I would never come back from it. That I would go into a catatonic state and stay there.
Weird thing to believe when you’re 16 or 17, but as I’ve said my upbringing was chaos. Think of being raised by George and Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” My family was a cross between that and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Addiction and grief and rage.

The thing is, I saw what rage could do to my mother. She was basically a rage-aholic. She prided herself on her rages, called it her “berserker” temperament, referring to her Danish background. At that point I didn’t know she’d had tremendous tantrums as a child. She would scream at us, daily. She wasn’t good with young children, and to top it off she had an alcoholic husband. She felt life had cheated her, and she took it out on whoever was available, usually her children.
I don’t know if I got the brunt of it. I was the strongest, and the one she saw as most like her, so I would have been an obvious victim, but she was pretty even-handed with her fury.
She would come into the room, scream at us until veins popped out in her head and then collapse on the floor. I don’t know if the rage got so strong she passed out or she was being dramatic. Eventually she would pull herself to her feet, walk out and slam the door. Only to come in five minutes later and start screaming again. She would be driving us somewhere and start screaming and beating on the steering wheel. She tried to come after me with a fire poker and when I locked myself in the bathroom to get away from her she started to beat down the door. She chased my sister into the neighbor’s kitchen with a butcher knife.
Now in retrospect I realize she was batshit insane. Ahem. Mentally ill. She spent a month in a mental hospital when I was in third grade (which was hushed up), did another term later, and then went through hallucinations followed by a massive series of shock treatments when our family exploded.
So it’s little wonder that open anger terrified me. Believe it or not, the closest mother figure I had, my BFF’s mother, was in many ways worse than mine, and she was an alcoholic. So I had no close person to see as a mother figure (and in retrospect, no one to help me while I was trapped in such chaos. Not relatives, not schools. There are more resources nowadays, I think).
So I don’t know how to get really angry at anyone. There are a very few people I dislike, people who have hurt me or hurt my family. I also forgive most people if they show the slightest bit of repentance. I don’t like being really angry — it makes me sick inside.
Our son started lying to us and using drugs when he was 12 or 13. We’d spend a fortune sending him to therapeutic schools, giving him a million chances. He got busted when he was thirteen, he got busted the year he was in college, he’s screwed up and been really awful to me in the past.
And I never got mad at him. Ever. At one point, in the midst of the chaos, I even asked him for permission to be angry, and he said no. How ridiculous is that? I had every reason to be angry — being angry doesn’t mean you don’t love a person.
But I guess it must feel like that to me. Anger=abandonment=betrayal.
The thing is, I’ve never had cause to be angry at Richie, at least, not very often. We have one of the truly great marriages. We’ve always been able to talk about anything, to face whatever’s been wrong and not to sulk in our individual corners. Part of that is having 9 years of marriage (and 11 years together) before we could have children. Sometimes infertility drives people apart. In our case it just kept us close.
The kids put strain on the relationship, of course. But he and I have never gone through tough periods where we doubted our commitment to each other and were angry or disappointed. Most long marriages have to go through those times, I gather. We never did. We’ve never yelled at each other. Never had angry words going back and forth.
Partly because I withdraw and wait if Richie’s gotten mad. He doesn’t do it very often, but he’s capable of getting angry. He got angry enough at our son over his constant screw-ups.
But for me, I walk away until we’re able to talk about it calmly. And in the past that always works.
We’ve just hit a stumbling block now where all the talking is just repeating ourselves and we’re getting nowhere.
Richie doesn’t want to lose his family. I don’t blame him. Richie doesn’t want to face the ugliness that forcing the situation would bring. I don’t blame him for that, either. But we’re stalled out, and I’m afraid the only way to break the logjam is to give him worse ugliness at home, or walk away for a while.
I have no doubt at all that our relationship is super-strong and will survive this hurdle. And I hope the relationship with his family can be saved. It can’t be with me, but I can certainly be social and polite if it can be mended.
But I digress. Things that should make me angry make me sad or depressed instead. My son’s continual screw-ups until he was about 21 (and they were gradually more and more minor) made me sorrowful. I never said “cut it out.”
I’m trying to work on the “cut it out” stuff, preferably without anger. I don’t know if there’s really any advantage in giving in to anger. To yelling at someone, to just letting go. Swallowing stuff isn’t healthy either, but being able to wait and talk things out seems to me a better way to go if you can. All the talk in the world isn’t going to help my son get his shit together, but then, rages wouldn’t either. He’s getting it together on his own, and the best I can do is set limits, which I am nowadays.

So that’s a long answer to Kieran’s question about do I have a problem with anger. Yes, I have a problem with anger. If I get angry with someone I just tend to withdraw. Is there a better way?

As for Richie, he spent yesterday digging ditches for pay (which isn’t exactly what I had in mind for him but he did it, god bless him) and he called his niece last night without my prompting. It’s still at an impasse — she doesn’t know if she wants to make the commitment of buying into the big house, and I don’t blame her. She’ll call back next week. If she doesn’t, it will be another big wait until Richie calls her back. If she calls back and says no then we have another huge wait until he gives them a true ultimatum or files papers.

But I don’t need to project. It will unfold as it unfolds. Maybe my niece and her future husband, who want to start a family right away, will want the big house to bring their children to. Maybe it will figure as a major part of their over-all picture. I think they’d be nuts, but it’s their call, and they both work for Microsoft, while the nephew is a doctor, so they can afford it. It’s just a question of how they want to spend their money.

So that’s where we are. The elephant is still in the room, but he’s been watered and fed and we can ignore him for a while. And at least I don’t feel so angry and resentful right now.

33 thoughts on “Krissie: Anger

  1. Feeling anger is natural. Even the Dalai Lama admitted to feeling anger once in awhile. But it’s what you do about it that makes the difference. If you feel it, examine it, and wait until you are calm to act on what has made you angry, you are doing all right. If you yell and stomp and scream and carry on, you are only making your anger worse and hurting other people, too. Or looking batshit crazy.

    There’s nothing wrong with saying “I’m feeling anger right now. I’m going to take a break until I’m calm.” Then walking away and calming down.

    All my therapists and countless self-help books would tell you that depression is anger turned inwards. So you do feel anger; you just use it to hurt yourself for feeling it.

    It sounds like you and Richie are on an even keel again, at least for now. It’s okay to feel anger over things that aren’t going the way you want or need them to. You’ve got the walking away part to cool off going already, so you’re good.

    Glad you are doing better today and that you and Richie are okay.

  2. Kieran says:

    Wow, I can see how you’d want to avoid anger after what you witnessed with your mom. I think you’re wise to recognize that it can possess you in a way that leads to destruction of important relationships and your own peace of mind.

    It’s almost like you became a wise, old sage as a kid. You know already. You know that anger leads nowhere, 99% of the time. Too bad you had to learn that by being repeatedly wounded. (You didn’t play a nun for nothing in The Sound of Music. I’m actually leaning toward putting you in that category of people who know about anger but who live around it intentionally).

    Your family sounds so much like mine. Mine’s also very intellectual and pretentious about it at times. Beautifully written emails became the preferred way to communicate when we had problems–the writer always looked like Perry Mason winning a case, and the other person always looked like a low-down criminal. I’m at a point now that when I get a note from a family member, I write back that I won’t read it (if it’s about a combustible issue).

    I do think that 1% of the time, anger can help–it’s a mean trick of the cosmos, really, acting as a spotlight to illuminate something you’ve been avoiding. It’s the universe’s punishment, in a way. It’s the price you pay for not paying attention.

    You can’t control Richie, and he has his own path to walk. For your own peace of mind, I hope you can let go of the house issue. I know that sounds extreme, and I know you and Richie are life partners, but in my own experience, when it comes to property issues, I’ve witnessed first-hand that it works best when only original family members try to resolve the property/money problem.

    My very practical, loving sister was in a very similar predicament as you. A big mansion on the Battery of Charleston was involved, and her husband and his sister had to duke it out–who was going to get it (versus a beach house on the front beach–what would I give to have these sorts of problems!!!).

    Anyway, my sister didn’t approve of the way it was handled at all. There were fights and rude behavior, etc. It put a huge strain on her marriage. But when she let go and let her husband handle it HIS way, she felt so much better. He was also an avoider…this dragged on for years. And for years, she tried to be a mediator of sorts. But she eventually came to accept that her husband’s family had their own issues and a different worldview. (When you spend five years as a kid in a single-wide trailer and your bedroom is a camper, as my sister and I did, you just don’t get how people can fight over such abundance).

    But you can’t change people at their core unless they want to be changed. And they had their own family dynamic branded onto their psyches. And that was that. So I do recommend for YOU and your marriage, let Richie stumble and fall if he has to, and try to find your own happiness apart from the house issue. For your sake, pretend it doesn’t exist and that you’ll need to find your own way to come up with funds for what you need. Hopefully, while you’re doing that, Richie will feel room to breathe, and he will study his priorities and figure things out. If he doesn’t, that will be sad. But it’s his problem to solve.

    In my opinion, and I don’t mean to foist it on you at all…only you know what is truly best.

  3. romney says:

    There are a lot of stages between forcing down anger and going batshit insane. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Sometimes you’re right to be angry and express it. I can’t think of any useful hard and fast rules for it though.

  4. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    My mother is batshit crazy, too, and she raised me alone. Your childhood and mine sound eerily similar.

    I understand about the anger being scary, terrifying. I don’t know what the right way to deal with it is, except that shoving it down forever doesn’t work. I tried. This past year or two I’ve been trying a new tactic. I think about why I’m angry, when I’m alone or with someone supportive. I let myself feel it, really feel it. Sometimes I storm around and yell, or cry, never in the presence of the object of my anger, though. Then I try and peel apart the feeling, and figure out exactly what is causing it. This is hard, but after I’ve let out the emotion it is possible to look deeper at the root of the anger. Once I figure out what is actually causing the emotional reaction, I can come up with a practical solution and implement it. So far, this is working for me. No idea if it will work long term, though.

    I think we need a support group. Adult children raised by batshit crazy parents. I’m kind of serious, here. I’ve discovered that a lot of what I thought were my personality characteristics are really just symptoms. If someone hasn’t done a study on this, they should.

  5. Marcia in OK says:


    My 2 cents on about anger:

    After many years in a dysfunctional home and a decade and a half in active treatment, I had to give myself permission to be angry. . . and then recognize my anger and own it.

    In my world now, anger is a valid emotion, and deserves expression just like any other. It is kind of like an ididicator light on the dash of my car. Some of them are minor like the tire pressure light or the blinking bulb out one, or even the check engine light. The biggie is the OIL light – bright red and danger danger, stop now!

    Anger usually gets the bad rap because people use it as an excuse to behave badly, and blame the bad behavior on whatever “made them mad”. (no matter how mad we are, we are responsible for our actions and when we are reacting, we do not have the right to hurt anyone or anything – others, ourselves, or property even if it is ours!)

    But, Anger is necessary, it acts as an indicator that something is wrong in my world. Most often and expectation I had was unmet. I might never have consciously thought about what I expected, much less communicated it to anyone. But, when I didn’t get what I expected, I get angry.

    Anger is almost always tied to another big scary emotion that often gets hidden behind the anger – things like, fear, disappointment, worry, hurt, overwhelmed, lost etc. Anger is the indicator that trouble is afoot, and I should pay attention, and look behind the initial burst and see what else is there. If I don’t, even at a slow pace with big things, I suffer for it. My anger is mine, and I have to own it and deal with it.

    Bad stuff can happen when the anger builds and builds without a safe outlet. I always think of the anger explosions of Volcanic eruptions. Splashing and burning everything in its path whether deserved or not. Usually, it wasn’t.

    Sorry – rambling about an issue I still deal with often. It isn’t comfortable to me even after all this time, it takes the most conscious effort.

    Take care and extra hugs just in case ((((Krissie))))

  6. Wow. My mother was nuts too. And very angry. It escalated as I got older. She wouldn’t stop yelling and expected me to join in–which I did. Sometimes it was a contest to see who could yell the loudest and say the most outrageous and hurtful things to each other. Only then would she back down. She called it “clearing the air.” I called it unhealthy. But it did turn me into a warrior. I spent my 20’s learning how to *not* do that. It was hard.

    At the same time, I do think there is a time and a place for anger. It can prompt honesty. I can bring things to the surface so they can be worked on and repaired. And it can also be a sign of self-respect. I do get a bit overboard on the “you can’t treat me like that” flare-ups, but those are probably directly attributable to my mother.

    So, I believe that not all anger is destructive. Too much anger certainly is. Anger is very much like fire. In a fireplace it’s a lovely thing. When it has escaped the fireplace and is flaring up the curtains and devouring the walls and the treasures of a lifetime it’s a horrible and destructive force.

    I’m hoping the niece will take the house. Will light a candle for it. 🙂

  7. Krissie, there’s nothing wrong about feeling angry over things that make us angry. Anger isn’t inappropriate or sinful or anything else.

    My mom felt anger but was unable to own it or express it. Repressing it instead of appropriately expressing it hurt her. Often, that’s when she would fall off of the wagon of her recovery and drink instead. A big part of her recovery and therapy focused on helping her learn to feel and express it.

    I also repressed anger, preferring to keep a more even keel. However, when pushed beyond my ability to repress, I’d snap — and those snaps were epic. They always made me feel horrible after, like I’d pulled a Hulk without quadrupling in size and killing people.

    I’m much better at managing anger and processing what really bothers me or is major versus what I can let roll off.

    A wise person told me many years ago that there’s a big difference between losing my temper and using it. Using it is so much more effective.

  8. Ylva Hedin says:

    Its amazing how strong you are. Most people with your upbringing wouldnt be! SO first of all, be very very proud over who you are and what you have become!!

    When it comes to anger I think you have to find the golden middle way. There is: supress the anger on one site…. insane with rage on the other….

    Some where inbetween is good.

    I find anger good, for me it is. It makes me do things, clean the house, sort the cabinets and so on… Sad is a bad place for me… I just sit. anger: I do a whole weeks laudry in one day and clean the house, make cookies and buns and so on…

  9. You’ve lived through hell, lady. Kudos to you for coming out the other side with any kind of sanity. It seems knowing what that upbringing did to you has shed some light on why you are who you are. Now you can work with the therapist to be who you want to be, though I’m sure you’re on that path already.

    My dad has the epic temper in our family. Quick to light and things start flying. Literally. I inherited that temper and worked for years to control it. I’m much better now. I mean, I never really threw things, but I wanted to. My problem was lashing out. Never good.

    My grandmother was the one with the cat-o-nine tails tongue. She rarely yelled but she could cut you with words. She had a comeback for everything and they were usually very mean.

  10. Office Wench Cherry says:

    Since the elephant is fed and watered and is content, would this be the time to say something like “I know it was hard to call Neice and talk to her about the big house and I’m really proud of you – and grateful that you did it. I know you’re worried about what will happen if everything goes pear shaped and we have to talk to a lawyer but right now we don’t have to worry about that because the ball is in Neice’s court and it’s her decision. We will deal with that when she calls back, for right now lets put it aside and do other things.” He took a big step yesterday and he might be feeling a little wobbly and need the support. I know I always do when I do something that has the potential for blowing up in my face.

    I don’t know anyone who deals well with anger. In my family whenever my mother would go into one of her depressions she would get irrationally angry and I spent all my time trying to placate her. My sister ignored her and my dad went to work. She didn’t yell or scream, she just walked around silently giving off this air of rage that would have given Ted Bundy pause. I felt the brunt of it even if it wasn’t directed at me. I learned to try to calm anger, to make it go away, especially over the top anger. We always had to pretend that things were peachy, it was almost like being in a family with an alcoholic.

    In Tall Boy’s family it’s even stranger. We’ve been married for over nine years and I still can’t figure it out. They do what they can to keep his mom calm, she really is mentally unstable. For all that I joke about not liking her and whatever, the woman has serious issues and I feel bad for her. Still don’t like her and still think she needs to treat my husband better but I pity her. Several years ago we rented a cabin near their house and one day they picked up SIL from the airport and came to the cabin. MIL accidently locked the keys in the car. SIL and TB were gently teasing her about it as they were trying to break into the car and she snapped. Threw a screaming hissy fit in the driveway, going on about how no one loved her and she didn’t care if SIL went back to Japan and never came back. She screamed for at least 10 minutes. In front of her traumatized five or six year old grandson. I was hiding in the house. One minute she was fine and laughing about her bad memory and the next she was totally bat poo crazy. My work system won’t let me post swearwords on the interwebs.

    It was so bad that all the neighbors were looking out their windows and the lady closest to us caught me alone the next day and said she was worried and wondered if she shouldn’t have called the police. I never told TB that.

    In his family any sort of raised voice is considered anger and shouting. Considering his dad is going deaf and won’t wear his hearing aids and is forever mishearing people, conversations are a lot of fun. TB and JapanSIL aren’t allowed to get mad at the youngest because she’s the baby and they need to be nice to her – she’s 40 – no matter what she’s done to them. your right to get angry depends on who you are and who you’re angry at.

    So, TB and I fumble our way through getting angry with each other – and we try not to do the things that make the other really angry – and I try to remember that when he’s being pesty he’s just trying to make me laugh.

  11. Appropriate anger used in the right way can be a powerful tool in the push for change.
    Situational anger is managable. It’s chronic anger that’s the problem, imho.
    Sounds like you’ve got a good handle on your anger, Krissie.

  12. misspiggy don'twannabe says:

    The hard thing when you’re angry is not to use the word “you” when you’re speaking to the person who made you angry. “I was disappointed that the phone call didn’t happen” – is a way to take the accusation out of it and maybe get some response instead of defensiveness.
    I’m glad you have a good therapist to show you that you’re a good girl coping with angry-making situations.

  13. I’ve found that’s worked in the past with Richie. Leaving him alone to figure things out. The house situation is a little more complicated. If our finances managed to get on an even keel then it would take the pressure off. But at this point it’s the only thing that’s going to pay our back taxes and get us out of the deep hole we’re in. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel.
    But you’re right. To a certain extent I have to back off.

  14. Actually I thought making too much of a fuss over him finally making the call wouldn’t be a good idea. Instead I simply discussed it with him in a calm, matter-of-fact manner, as if our lives weren’t hingeing on this, and then went on to say good things to him and do nurturing things. Because he is wonderful. He’s just in a horrible situation and he doesn’t know where to turn so he hides his head and hopes it goes away. I don’t blame him but we can’t do that any longer.
    And I have a tendency to do that too. I’ve done that with taxes so many times until this time it went into overdrive. Not paying your taxes on a X income gives you manageable taxes and penalties. Not paying the taxes on 3x or 5x income really screws you over. And it’s almost entirely my fault.

  15. I think anger is a normal emotion, just like love, sadness, etc. Our society tends to view anger is a negative light, but the issue is less about the emotion itself, than the reaction. As others have pointed out, anger can motivate us to do positive things. People also use anger to justify terrible behaviour.

    I know that growing up with an angry parent can really screw up your perspective on anger, especialy when that person seems to be unpredictable. I’m not sure he was crazy, but my father was angry, confrontational and mean. I inheritated his tendancy to get very angry quickly and it has taken a lot of therapy and hard work on my part to control my “angry” button.

    We talk a lot about anger at our house, because DS also is also very quick to anger (aren’t genetics great?). Expect his ADHD and anxiety contribute to his tendancy to fly off the handle. We tell him that it’s ok to get angry, but that he’s in charge of his reaction – kicking, punching, etc are not acceptable responses. We’re trying to give him the tools to manage his emotional response so he doesn’t have extreme “anger management’ issues as he gets older.

    It sounds like you are making progress in terms of managing your anger and how you deal with it going forward. Keep going – it’s worth the effort.

  16. I’ve learned to look at anger as a secondary emotion. I don’t feel anger first. I feel anger after I am feeling hurt and/or frustrated. For me, anger is a tool that I use to not deal with my primary emotions of fear, hurt, frustration. For me, anger can be a lot like food – a tool used to not deal with my primary feelings.

    I think that it’s easy to forget that anger doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is a symptom of something else and rarely the dis-ease itself in your life.

    Just my two cents, worth a half penny with today’s inflationary rates.

  17. Yep, my anger seems to flare when I sense I’m being taken advantage of, so I get all pissed and huffy and then I ‘splode. It isn’t pretty because I have an Irish background. Also have a Sottish one, but the poor Irish ancestors always get the blame. : )

    I think you’re wise to think about your anger. To voice it here in your safe place and get it off your chest, and also to understand that everyone experiences it in some form or other.

    You’ll figure it out. I have great faith.

  18. Lois says:

    Anger…interesting topic. I used to be a screamer. Now I can occasionally be a swearer. But mostly I catch myself and realize that I don’t want to waste the time and energy that anger takes.
    I think I used to think aggressively but often act passively and now I try to be assertive. As my massage therapist and I laughed about the other day “it’s all about me”! I really do try to do what makes me happy and let the other people in my life do the same. For example, I spent many years being angry and worried when my husband would disappear and be gone in the woods for hrs. He’d come home and I’d yell and he’d apologise and I’d say ‘no, if you were really sorry you wouldn’t keep doing this’. Then one day I realized that it makes him happy to be off like that so I just needed to get over it because how would I like him yelling at me for doing something I enjoy.
    Sometimes I think anger can be a good thing – it means there are issues to be resolved and dammit they will be resolved. I don’t like the depression that can occur when you know something can’t be resolved but you wish it could be.

  19. Caryn says:

    Me, too, learning to placate and distract to avoid the bat-sh*t crazy rages. I could always cheer people up and distract them and give them a different perspective. So of course I now like writing with a bit of dry humor which uses the same skill set. Still love making people laugh — they don’t beat on people when they are laughing at my words.

    (Raising a glass of {whatever} to all us survivors of craziness we had no control over.)

  20. Dnelle says:

    I don’t know how many people hold a piece of the house, but it sounds like there has to be a consensus for anything to move forward. Would it be feasible for the other shareholders to all go in together to buy you out? Maybe if it was spread out among them the financial burden wouldn’t be too great for any one person.

  21. Reb says:

    I probably sound like a broken record here, but have you talked to a budget advisor? Among the many things New Zealand budget advisors can do is negotiate with Inland Revenue to stop the penalties killing you.

  22. Reb says:

    I don’t see how it can be almost entirely your fault when you and Richie are partners. But if it is, have you acknowledged that to him and apologised? Might help.

    Of course, feel free to ignore this assvice as required.

  23. Tai says:

    While in therapy, I learned that anger means there is a problem that needs to be solved. How we deal with it is what matters. I like your method, calm down and talk then. I grew up in a home where rage was the only acceptable emotional expression. Every time something did not go my way, it was okay to throw a tantrum(thus the need for therapy). My parents and siblings set this example. I did it but I also quickly learned, as the youngest of six, no one was paying any attention to me either way. My father was the rage-aholic. My mother mostly played the role of placator(sp?/real word?). She had her rages too though.

  24. jinx says:

    I always find that anger seems to be different when I know exactly what I want and something or someone is blocking my getting to that thing. First of all, it’s easier to recognize all the pieces of the situation, second, it’s easier to explain to somebody what my position is, and third, it’s easier to process the conflict, because I am mostly focused on me in terms of something I’m going after, and the other person can either understand that part of me better, or point out what they’re going after too. You can debate the issue with each person focusing a lot of their intention around their own specific needs and wants.

    Anger that’s gotten focused on ANOTHER person’s insensitivity, insulting statements, personal faults, obnoxious relatives, etc. etc. etc. etc. is a lot of steps away from MY basic needs and wants, and can really easily turn into a mudslinging match that leads nowhere good, fast.

    And man, when I start pointing fingers I realize I’ve got mud all over my own actions as well.

    Good luck, you guys.

  25. Micki says:

    Oh, Krissie. Great post. You are stuck. I think you will get unstuck and this will all pass. I have two things:

    1. Your finances are both of your problems, but I think you should give Richie full responsibility for dealing with his family. If that means he has to dig ditches in order to avoid dealing with it, support him. He may find strength — of one sort or the other — in doing that physical labor, and it will give him time to think. It’s kind of like Thoreau . . . . It’s fair game to ask him, “How can I help?” but you MUST accept it if he says you can’t.

    2. It’s OK to be angry. You don’t have to GET angry and pop a vein or anything. Maybe a note . . . with no stings. You can tear it up without having him read it, if you like. I think you are angry at his family for putting this stress on him, and you are also angry at him for being put upon (and maybe also for making you so worried). Have you tried saying, very calmly, “This situation makes me so angry! I hate what they are doing to you, and it makes me feel like I want to explode . . . except I don’t want to explode, and that’s stressing me out, too.” Look for little vents, not the big blowup.

    *hugs* I hate conflict, too.

  26. Laura N says:

    Krissie, if his family owns the big house, then it is his decision. I was in an identical situation. Summer cabin. His family built it before I was on the scene. No prenup. It is his call. If I have the facts wrong correct me.

  27. What your mom did … that was ABUSE, plain and simple.

    I have your issues with anger. I remember as a child cowering in a corner while hell raged around me. I always prefer to wait until I have time to simmer down before I try to address my anger. Some of that is a lack of self worth — I am afraid that someone will dump me if I become “difficult”. Some of it is just being afraid that if I really let go, it will be very very bad.

  28. There’s so much good advice from all the refabbers, there’s nothing I can add. And you seem to be doing what needs to be done with a kind of gentleness and sensitivity … ‘in a calm manner’. You can’t ask more of yourself than that. 🙂

  29. The only other shareholder is his sister, and she can’t even afford to run it herself. She wants her children to buy our half, which would be great, and they’d like to too, they just don’t want to pay for it. And we have to get rid of it –not just for the financial toll but the psychic one it has on Richie.

  30. That’s why I said “Almost”. He got all the paperwork together, I just had to collate it on the computer and send it to our tax person. He didn’t push me, so he was complicit, but he did his part in getting the stuff ready for me. And god, I beat my head against the wall over it, but he never blames me.

  31. Forgive me if someone has mentioned this before, but I think Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Anger should be required reading for everyone. Your mom’s craziness is beyond the scope of the book, but I found Lerner’s advice on how to manage reasonable, everyday anger invaluable. I reread the book every couple of years, and recommend it to everyone. Her view is that anger can be a useful self-protector that we should pay attention to, or a destructive weapon that we need to learn how to diffuse. I too still have problems with a healthy, reasonable expression of anger, but I’m so, so much better, and I understand the patterns so much better. It’s a great read.

  32. pamb says:

    Krissie, was her anger pretty constant or did she have charming periods (with you kids, not others)?

    ‘Cause, for me, it was the uncertainty that shriveled my soul.

    Both parents. Sometimes the most wonderful parents anyone could have. Sometimes, a switch would flip and it was bad. Very, very bad. I tried to blame the alcohol, but they opened the bottles, so it was hard.

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