A Lesson in Anger Management: How to Be the Bad Guy Even When You are the Good Guy

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This past week my wife and I had what some might call a little disagreement. Due to, let’s just say a difference in opinion. Naturally, in typical Tom Gonzalez fashion, I got myself rather worked-up. Like Marsellus Wallace, chasing after Butch, after he was run over by him, type of worked-up. But don’t you worry good people, I didn’t do anything dramatic like he did. That was because I am trying my best not to get myself into any major arguments with the wifey. I know myself well enough to know that If I dared to opened my mouth at that time, if I allowed the somewhat heated conversation to continue, I would end up saying something idiotic that I would most definitely regret and make an already bad situation turn even worse. So I channeled my inner Buddha by taking that giant ball of rage that was threatening to engulf the peace of our little home and swallowed that baby whole. Well maybe not whole. I still managed to take out a small portion of my frustration on my poor phone. Which apparently it failed to appreciate. Because by the next morning my phone went on strike and stopped working. This only served to exasperate the sense of frustration that I was already reeling from.

I needed to clear my head. Catch my breath so to speak. Remove myself from the situation. Now I’m not very fond of bars, or drinking on my own, so that was out of the question. It was late, and I was broke, and I had to wake up early the following day for work, so going out to see a movie wasn’t going to fly either. So I did the next best thing. I took myself and my festering tumor of rage downstairs to the family room. I powered-up my trusty 360 and spent the next hour and a half unleashing my biblical sized wrath on the poor citizens of Los Santos, while playing a game of GTA V.

At some point I heard several sets of footsteps coming down the stairs at various speeds. I didn’t need to look back from the comfort of our sofa to know that the wifey was coming down the stairs being escorted by two eager fur-balls. Pixie and Dory came over to me, tails wagging , mouths panting, asking in their usual adorable manner for me to pet them. I was upset but I knew that they were innocent in all this, so I obliged. After giving each one a gentle pat on the head, they both settled down on the rug. The wifey crossed my field of view in order to sit next to me. I made sure avoid all eye contact, and kept my gaze on the screen, where one of the characters I was playing as was being perused by a small army of police cars. My cold, yet still beating heart, was apparently making the basement even chillier than usual, because the wifey ended up covering herself with the throw-blanket that we keep on the sofa. She didn’t say a word. I’m sure she wanted too. But the fact that I never bothered to acknowledging her existence probably gave her enough of a hint that I wasn’t in the mood for talking. The silly thing was that I did want to talk. I wanted to tell her that what she said had bothered me. That I felt offended even. I wanted to tell her that it was beyond ridiculous for us to even be having these types of discussions at this juncture of our relationship. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m too much of a knucklehead. Too damn proud. Especially if I feel that I am justified in feeling the way that I do. Which to be completely honest with you, I always feel justified. Even when I’m not. I simply couldn’t bring myself to tell her how bad I felt. Instead I allowed her to just sit there feeling guilty. Well I think that was what she was feeling. I guess I was practicing that whole eye for an eye thing. You know– like a good Catholic.

My little session in digital anger management wasn’t working for me. Having the wifey just sitting there, looking all sheepishly, was in the end making me feel like a world class jerk. My wife has one of those pretty faces, that when she gives of a big, genuine smile, she can light up a room, but when she is feeling sad and low, you can’t help but feel like all the colors in the world have been muted somehow. That’s why I hate to see that lady sad; even when I’m mad at her. I knew that she was sad because I was refusing to give her the time of day, which was causing me to slightly hate myself. Which, let me tell you,  is a job I do well enough on my own without her added assistance. This, as you can imagine, was only serving to piss me off even more. It was I that was offended. It was I who was made upset. It was her words that got the ball rolling here. Yet here I was now feeling bad for her too. That my friends was some straight-up, Jedi mind trickery. that this little woman was pulling on me. I thought it was beyond unfair.

********************

I know Jess was just trying to extend an olive branch. She wanted to tell me ”Hey babe. Yeah you’re right. What I said was a bitch-ass move. I guess that makes me a bit of a busta’. But I want you to know that I love you. And never meant to say anything to hurt you. Plus– and I don’t want you to think I’m trying to make cheap excused for myself here. But I would like you to keep in mind that I’m a woman after all– and sometimes I say some shit simply because my body is releasing an egg or some other womanly function is taking place inside of me that I’m sure your male brain knows nothing about. And that, as it has been extensively documented by science, sometimes causes me to go a little crazy. But with all that being said–my bad boo.” I on the other hand, being the gracious, enlightened fool that I imagine myself to be; I should have accepted her olive branch with the utmost humility. I should have told her that it was all water under the bridge. That if she really wanted to make it up to me– she could start by going back upstairs with me to make monkey love like Bonobos (I know they aren’t monkeys. But just go with it.) do. But I didn’t. I just allowed her to sit there. Quietly. Patiently. Until her presence made me feel so guilty that I abruptly ended my game session, and walked myself straight to the bathroom to take a scalding hot shower.

I know I’m an idiot for it. I still feel I had every reason in the world to be angry. That part I will not deny. But what, I ask you, was the point of allowing my pride to prolong my suffering? What good did that do? The only think I accomplished that evening, besides being an asshole, was making myself sick. Just because I can’t never just let things go.

The wifey would eventually grow the courage to apologize to me after I had laid myself down for the night. She told me that she did not mean to upset me the way that she did. That I had a right to be upset. Which in my head I said loudly “No Shit!” I mumbled and grumbled a bit before saying it was fine. She gave me a soft kiss. Told me that she loved me and then proceeded to sleep all snug like a bug, happy that all was well in our little kingdom of four. Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy for me. I was still mad. I found myself holding on to those negative feelings like a man trying to break a wild mustang.

All that negativity just got bottled up. It had no outlet. There was no pressure valve in site that I could use to release some steam. I just allowed the hard feeling to fester, while I spent the night wallowing in self pity. So what happens when all that negative energy doesn’t get released? Well it gets absorbed. Right around my lower intestines.

I got upset on Sunday night. By midday on Monday I started suffering from what you can refer to as lower abdominal discomfort. I’ve felt this before. Always happens after I have gotten myself past the point of what most people would consider upset. I don’t know if this condition has a name, or even if it is a condition at all. For all I know its all psychosomatic. But whatever this thing is, it about as much fun as a 12 hour marathon of C-SPAN. Now some might consider this to be TMI. So please accept my apology if me sharing this offends my dear readers delicate sensibilities. But I like to be honest with people. Which means that sometimes I get to share stuff that don’t always come of all lollipops and gumdrops. Basically it felt (and as I write this still feel) like having to take a perpetual shit. You know that feeling you get when you been binging on nothing but red bean chili and Fiber One bars for three days straight, and for whatever reason you been denied bathroom privilege during that entire duration? No? Well I don’t either, but I imagine that the pain that I feel is probably pretty similar to that. To make matters worse, even if I go to the bathroom, well lets just say there is not a whole lot of action going on. So the pain just lingers. Another side effect is that my lower left side becomes very sensitive to the touch. If any pressure is applied to that area the general feeling of discomfort can be pretty painfully. Which is why sitting in front of a computer, trying to write a blog post, while feeling kinda crappy (pun totally intended) is not so appealing. This is the reason why I missed my making my usual Wednesday post here Once Around the Block.

The old me would have gone over to WEBMD by now to look up what this so called ailment might be. But since every symptom on that site basically points to cancer, I decided against it. Why give myself something new to stress about. Besides, the only time I get this is way is whenever I get Hulk SMASH mad. So it is obviously connected to my emotional state. Just another example of how not having a healthy way of coping with anger and stress can start tearing you up from the inside-out.

So that’s my current dilemma. I need to find a good, healthy way of deal with the everyday stress that comes with just being alive; along with the extraordinarily stressful situations that occur when you have to interact with folks, who like me, are trapped living in a self contained reality that exist only in their mind. I know I can’t avoid arguments out right for a number of reasons. One being that it’s not really part of my nature, and two, I’m married, and couples are gonna disagree and have misunderstanding from time to time. Plus I have a temper, and folks sometimes like to poke a stick at a sleeping bear. But I can control how I allow that tension to affect me. The only thing we have any control over is how we react to that stress, tension, adversity. Like (os and so says) life is 10% what happens to you. 90% how you react to it. That’s my problem right now—well always really. I react horribly to any situation that I deem remotely unpleasant. I need to make finding a healthy way of dealing with my anger and stress a major priority. Because all this pent up aggression is starting to kill me. How exactly do I do that? Fuck if I know.

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