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.

8 comments:

  1. Occasional Raging Psychopath Lunatic, party of one - right here! So I have always had a somewhat short fuse, but the VAAAAAAAAAAST majority of the time nobody ever really sees it with the exception of my husband, and over the years a couple of boyfriends, relatives, and my Mom and my sister - because they were the targets of it, by and large. But I have recently reached a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of crazy bitch that, once over, even makes me sit there in a daze and be all "what the hell just happened here?". It is a full-on uncontrollable rage that takes hold of me and won't let go until I am too exhausted to keep on. I rarely apologize for my outbursts though, because even though it's not the best delivery method, I feel like the "target" needed to hear what I needed to say. Or scream, as the case may be. I've always had a flair for the dramatic. What can I say?

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    1. Yes! Exactly! Sometimes I swear it's almost like being possessed - I hear sounds coming out of my mouth that I didn't even know I could make, and I feel like I'm having an out of body experience, and then all shaky and watery-kneed after. I now totally get why Kathy Bates' character rammed into those girls' car in Fried Green Tomatoes.

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  2. Ummm, yes, I've had episodes of The Rage or Hulk Smash (laughing). I'm glad you talked about it, because it makes me feel more sane. Your post in general was not only helpful but hilarious, and those are my favorite kinds. I really have never thought about it being because I'm nearing The Pause, because I have always had an undercurrent of Don't Fuck With Me running through my veins. But you're right, it's been harder to control lately. It comes out aimed more at my husband (poor guy) than my kids at this point but I need to get control of it. Thanks for this post - I won't cite specific examples because I don't want to scare anyone! Wink, creepy smile. (Just kidding, totally normal smile. Wink).

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    1. Sadly, it's mostly my kids who set me off. I try so hard to be patient, but after the look up with blank stares after the 60 billionth repetition of "Put on your shoes so we can go," I want to rip out my ovaries. I usually manage not to swear or break anything, but I think I'm developing an eye twitch.

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  3. My ability to maintain an even keel on the surface is slowly eroding. I lied. Over the last year I have not given a fuck, despite many resolutions to connect more and build more relationships. I try and then back away as quickly as possible. I try to handle my family with patience and kindness, but after I'm neck deep in BS I go ultra bitch and scare the crap out of them. You'd think they would learn. After a particularly challenging few weeks, my son tried reminding me to buy my favorite wine each time we were at the store. I don't know if any of us will survive my thirties.

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    1. I remember quite clearly when I stopped giving a fuck. I was stressing out about someone else's wedding drama, and suddenly it was like a switch flipped. I could actually feel myself releasing the whole situation into the wide realm of things that aren't my problem. There's definitely a positive element to it, but it's hard to contain the flip side.

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  4. I have rage occasionally but I think it coincides w/ PMS. My mom once said PMS doesn't make you ragey, it just makes you unable to tolerate all the bullshit you usually tolerate. So all the rage women feel is actually the normal reaction to all the crap women typically handle - only most times we swallow it.

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    1. Maybe that's it. I think I've topped out on the lifetime amount of crap I'm willing to take!

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