I have always had a short temper, but I have learned to control it–by identifying triggers, by negotiating with myself in my head, coaching myself through all the steps of dealing with my anger. Not that I’m in a rage all the time, but there are things that “piss me off easily.” Over the years, I have become fairly skilled at dealing with my temper, and remaining calm, even though I continued to have moments I was NOT proud of.
However…one thing that I’m left with these days, post-stroke, is this incredible short temper of mine…without all the tools to manage it (are the tools located in the headquarters of my stroke, the thalamus?). This means that now I have blown up in line at a store TWICE this month. First, I thought at a clerk in the pharmacy gave me attitude (but later my hubby told me not to the extent that I had believed) a couple weeks ago. I had already been waiting over an hour for my prescription and she told me to come back AGAIN. When? She wouldn’t say. She was not apologetic, and her voice had an edge of irreverence.
Perhaps that’s how she always is, but at that moment, the curtain of her horrid attitude made my skin ITCH. I asked her, “Can you tell me that again WITHOUT THE ATTITUDE?” Of course she didn’t take that well, and the situation escalated.
Today, I was at a store buying a few things with my husband. A man walked in front of us, and my husband reminded him that we were in line ahead of him. The man brusquely let us ahead again.
All’s well that ends well, right?
Nope. He ran his mouth off telling us that we didn’t LOOK like we in line and blah blah blah. I told him something benign. He kept talking. I said something again. He kept talking. Then he addressed my husband and told him HE needed to talk instead of letting ME talk. I don’t know what his problem was, but he was trying to engage my husband somehow, repeating, “You shouldn’t let your wife talk like that, when you can just tell me what you’re thinking, it seems like you’re really upset!”
My husband finally told him, “I am trying to ignore you.”
The man kept going on and on–and what did I do? Instead of ignoring him like I normally would have pre-stroke, I kept engaging him at every turn. In the end, it was our turn to go to a cashier and the man said one last word. He decided to insult me to my husband. At that point, I rushed back to him and shouted (okay maybe I screamed…what I had been repeating over and over again), “GET OVER IT!”
The line of people took a deep breath. I was out of my head with rage and bit my tongue from saying any more as I headed to the cashier.
Ugh. My husband told me that I needed to keep my mouth shut instead of giving the man what he wanted and engaging him in a conversation of anger (or that’s what I think my husband said, because my head was just swimming with red and orange and black).
I am astounded at my lack of control–on the one hand, I can hold my anger in and then feel totally destroyed…or I can blow up and move on. I don’t like either. My ability to manuever sticky situations and obvious pitfalls is seriously damaged.
Maybe, come to think of it, it has to do with being in line (both incidents happened in store lines).
In the end, I ask, who have I become?