Now that I’ve totally blown my anonymity, I will let you all in on another dirty little secret: us LaDukes, we inherited ourselves a red hot sizzling fiery temper! Albert, Julius, Don - I don’t know who got it first, but it has burned on down the family line like a match on gasoline as far as the eye can see!
My friend Christina hears me at work dealing with children and their families. One night she tells me she can’t imagine my having a temper. I laughed whilst smirking. Once in high school, I practically shattered my phone by throwing it against the wall after a fight with a boyfriend. It was an awesome phone too - one of those Swatch phones that lit up when it rang and you could see the insides through the transparent green plastic. My dad fixed it for me without even asking me how it broke. Not that he didn’t know, I think he was just saving me that embarrassed smile us LaDukes get on our faces once we cool off. “Duuuuh, sorry!”
Oh hell yes I was mad when I hurled that telephone. That boyfriend was threatening suicide because I was breaking up with him. Then he told his parents I made up the story and that actually he had broken up with me! I punched him in the face whilst wearing the diamond ring he gave me for that last one. What was important to my 15-year-old self is quite different now, but my anger was and still is my anger nonetheless.
And again, I digress...
Anger is a displaced emotion, meaning it has its root in a different, deeper emotion. Rarely do we take the time to figure out what that emotion is because it is usually much more painful and we perceive that there is much more to lose than say, a telephone, by addressing it. The baddest dude below anger is fear.
Another time in a heated argument with a different boyfriend (relationships teach us so much!), I was the calm one, he was the angry one. As I stood up to leave, he taught me a poignant lesson; he stood as well and with the eyes of a 5-year-old child, he said, “Am I unloveable?”
I think of this situation often when I am angry; it helps me to go beyond, through, or beneath the anger to find out what it really is that I am feeling. Am I feeling unloveable? Am I feeling lonely? Am I scared? And can I remember that by expressing the feeling closer to the source of me (fear as opposed to anger; vulnerability as opposed to rage), I am creating an avenue for a conversation as opposed to a blitzkreig (Mr. Lochridge anyone?) of insults, profanities, and damage to myself and another being?
It’s not so easy and sometimes it has to happen after the anger has inadvertently burst out of us. But it’s useful. And it’s one of the best ways for deepening a relationship, especially one that matters. See how it feels sometime to offer your hurt, sadness, or fear to another as opposed to your anger. The palpable qualities of vulnerability are so much softer and attract much more compassion that the sharp, hot, edgy burn of anger.
Try it out and let me know what you find...