The Mind of Anne

January 1st, 2015 The Fury Inside Me

Raging Storm on Its Way

Raging Storm on Its Way

I recently took one of those Internet quizzes titled, “What Natural Disaster is Your Temper Like?” You would answer a bunch of silly questions and the quizmaster would give you an analysis.

I got Hurricane with this narrative: You are downright deadly. No one would ever try to mess with you. You are feared and rightly so. Once you get on the warpath, there’s no stopping you. People know to get out of your way as soon as they can. You only pick up momentum as you progress. You may calm down temporarily, but you always get a second wind. You’re one storm that takes a while to pass.

I could see myself in that description a bit but mostly I walked away with a notion to self-examine. I had always felt that I’m pretty even-tempered but I recognize there are the occasional explosive moments.

A friend noted that this reminded her of a story I had told years before. My then early teen daughter had been moody and disrespectful and obnoxious as early teen daughters are prone to be. We were arguing about something ridiculous as she headed off to her room. I followed, continuing the argument and when we got to the door, she slammed it in my face. I felt my temper rise, lost all control, and threw a rather powerful sidekick directly at the door. I must mention that I was training in karate at the time and had achieved the rank of brown belt. The kick was so powerful it knocked the door right off the hinges and it fell to the floor of my daughter’s room.

Fortunately, she was already sitting on the bed and was in no danger. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Don’t you dare slam the door in my face when I am speaking to you!!” Her response, which completely broke the tension of the situation was, “If that wasn’t so terrifying, it would have been really cool.” To that we laughed hysterically as I do now even typing this. My husband didn’t quite find the humor in the situation since he had to fix the door.

Another situation where I blew my cool was when a contracted vendor completely usurped my authority on a really important project at work. Over a weekend, he had contacted all the principals involved and essentially edged me out of the project by directing all communications to him and him alone. He also blew the project budget out of the water to his own advantage. On Monday morning when I discovered what had happened, I had to undo all the damage and reel him in. The concept that he was working for me seemed to have been lost on him. My clients were confused and upset because they wanted to work with me. As I discussed the situation with him and what had gone awry and what he was NEVER to do again, I felt my temper rising.

I don’t yell at people at work. Nor do I allow others to yell at me. So it was a true Herculean effort not to scream. Coincidently (or I at least think it was a coincidence), a severe thunderstorm rolled in as my temper flared. The angrier I got and the more I pushed that emotion down so I could speak in a metered tone, the louder and angrier the storm outside raged on. I needed to be really clear of how he overstepped his position and how I would never allow it to happen again without dire consequences. Me screaming would have diluted that message.

As we talked, the storm got worse and worse. At one point, I remember thinking that if I didn’t calm the hell down, my house would start on fire. I also think I heard a little bit of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries in my head. That was the turning point. I laughed at myself for presuming my anger had caused the thunderstorm and actually made it worse.

So maybe that Internet quiz wasn’t off the mark by much. I recognize I have a mercurial temper that can reel out of control but I also have a sense of humor that is equally mercurial. I can laugh at myself almost instantly, right in the moment of my greatest fury or the peak of embarrassment. I’d like to think of my hot-and-cold emotions as assets, albeit opposing at times. I guess it makes me human with the ability to play hard, love hard, live hard. It also makes me grateful that I have a self-awareness of my mercurial nature and more importantly, people around me who love me in spite of my craziness. I wish the same for you.

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