Thursday, April 24, 2014

Middle RAGE

Tonight's cocktail is a violet fizz, because please God let it really be spring now. I saw this cocktail in a book, then I found this wonderful instructional video. The site whence it comes is a thing of beauty - lots of great looking recipes.

I knew a lot of stuff would change when I turned 40. Metabolism, skin, joints, teeth, they're all requiring extra maintenance. And God only knows I've always been tightly wound emotionally, but still, I surprised to discover what I call The Rage. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just wait. It's coming.

hulk rage photo: HULK RAGE th9sru5l.gif

For me, The Rage can be used for good or evil. Sometimes, it provides a helpful, clean-burning anger that enables me to cut through everyone else's crap and do what's best for me and my kids. It has done wonders for me at work, with my ex husband, and with my parents. After decades of being a people-pleaser, it was a huge relief to realize that I don't have to apologize for what I or my children need or want. If someone is passive aggressive, nasty, or uncooperative, I go to a very calm place of absolute resolve, I say what I'm going to do, and I do it. Zero fucks given. Usually.

Sometimes, though, The Rage blows back in my face and turns me into Superbitch. Awhile back I said something snarky to McDreamy about a politician who said his two heroes were Ayn Rand and Jesus, noting that Jesus was pretty clear about our responsibility to take care of the poor, and that Ayn Rand believed that the poor are parasites who can go screw themselves. McDreamy had the misfortune to say something very mildly defensive of Ayn Rand. I flipped my shizznit and might* have raised my voice a bit. I also might* have called Ayn Rand a "hypocritical heartless cunt who couldn't write worth a damn." I'm not sorry for the sentiment, because I totally do think that, but I was surprised by how it poured forth from me in a hot wave of visceral anger. Also, for all my horrible swearing potty mouth, I'm not a big fan of the c-word. And even if Atlas Shrugged was a crime against literature (which it was), that's hardly McDreamy's fault.

If you liked Atlas Shrugged, don't send me hate mail. To each her own.
I'm definitely not alone in The Rage. My girlfriends and I trade stories, and I feel reassured that I'm not the only one who occasionally has to work not to come unhinged. At one friend's house, I learned that I'm not the only one who has a few kitchen knives with the points broken off from stabbing them down into the cutting board at the umpteenth "MOM MOM MOMMYMOMMYMOOOOOOOOM!" Another friend had to buy a new metal colander because she slammed one on the granite counter repeatedly until it warped out of shape. Still another broke a plastic baseball bat from smacking it across the back of the couch while yelling at her kids to get out the door in the morning. I suppose it's better than beating the children, but I'd much rather be able to keep my Zen intact.
Bring me chocolate and nobody gets hurt!
One of my friends theorizes that The Rage comes because menopause (a.k.a. The Pause) is breathing down our necks like a whore with halitosis. I'm not ready to think about that yet. I think it's more that once you reach a certain point in life, you hit your quota for the amount of crap you're willing to take. Also, you've had so much experience with other people's crap that you have finally learned to recognize it for what it is. It's not that I'm an angry, bitchy person most of the time - I'm not. I'm just finding that certain things set me off more than before.

I'm learning to recognize and head off my moments of Hulk Smash and to have more patience for the people and things around me. In part, this is for my own health, because stress will make you sick. In larger part, it's for my kids, for whom I feel obligated to model better coping techniques, and doesn't being a grownup suck sometimes? Though I will admit, when my kids are getting on my last nerve, sometimes I do flip them off behind their backs.

So, do I have company here, or is everyone quietly backing away without making eye contact? If you've had episodes of The Rage, make the rest of us feel better and share in the comments. God knows I have no room to judge.

*I definitely did these things.

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