I spend a lot of energy fretting over this question.
Are you mad?
One of the most difficult, most anxiety inducing fears for me is that I’ve made someone angry.
The reason is not hard to figure out.
As a child living with a narcissistic father, I learned anger was lurking, arbitrary and ferocious.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder can manifest in different ways.
There are people who have a parent with NPD who might rarely display anger. They are more quiet and manipulative. I shudder to think what that must be like to live with. My dad certainly tried to be manipulative, but he sucked at it. I could see through him and knew he was full of shit by the time I got out of grade school. He made up for it by being loud, volatile, and cruel.
The thing with my dad, I never knew what would provoke his anger.
Something that made him laugh one minute might make his face turn purple and spittle fly from his lips the next. The only thing for sure, I knew the anger would happen so I spent most of my childhood anticipating the next outburst. It was like living with an angry, bitter, life-sized jack-in-the-box.
Decades have passed since I was a child. Decades have passed since a heart episode left my father mildly brain-damaged and not-at-all intimidating.
Yet I find myself, at 54 years old, terrified all the time, of other people’s anger.
I can be triggered by the smallest thing. A glance. A sigh. A curt answer.
My brain receives that sort of signal and fucking runs with it. I become a child who is scared, miserable, and lonely.
Deep voices are difficult for me and yelling turns me into a basket case.
Not when it’s happening. On the outside, I hold it together fine. In fact, I’ve been complimented on how cool headed and rational I am in the face of anger and how well I am able to diffuse an angry situation. On the inside, however, I am a shattered mess and it can take days or longer to recover.
You know that saying “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger”?
Well, when in the fuck does that kick in? When? Because obviously, no one’s anger has ever killed me. Unless I’m dead and there is blogging in the afterlife. If we just assume I am in touch with reality and not dead, then when do I get strength from these events? Because, while they don’t happen often, I don’t see any improvement in my reaction. I don’t feel stronger at all.
I know fear is important.
Without fear, we’d be stepping of cliffs and petting rabid honey badgers, but I’ve got extra.
Maybe, I could sell it on Craigslist or something. You know, people who do crazy ass extreme sports or handle poisonous snakes could probably use an extra dose of fear. I have an abundance of fear and I could stand to make a little extra money.
I haven’t worked out how to transfer the fear, though. I don’t think the Craigslist idea is going to work out. How much would I charge? I mean, it is high quality, robust fear, but still, I’m not sure about the going rate for a unit of fear. Also, what would we call a unit of fear? Terrorbit? Tremormeter?
I resent fear as a near constant companion. I hate how fear and anxiety twist up together and make it hard to swallow or take a deep breath.
What helps? Sooner or later, after I’ve cried or ranted or rocked for a while (rock as in rock back and forth, not rock to music. Repetitive motion can be soothing), I remember to tell myself how brave I am. I found myself in a situation which my brain insists is dangerous and I faced it. No matter how afraid I was, I still dealt with my fear.
Remembering I am brave doesn’t take away any of the fear. Some brave people might be fearless, but I can attest that there are brave people among us who are terrified.
People who are scared and still face what they must face in life are motherfucking bad asses.
I’m telling you this in case you’re afraid sometimes.
You might be scared, but every time you get through a situation that your brain is screaming you must run from, remember how brave you are.
You are a motherfucking bad ass.
Just don’t get mad at me for saying so.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.