On Rage: 5 options when homicide is not an option.

We learn as little kids not to hit when we get angry – usually after we’ve slugged somebody. Apparently, we find, punching your sister in the face when she hurts your feelings isn’t proper behavior. Throwing things, screaming, pulling hair, tantrums of incendiary proportion: all bad.

By the time we hit adulthood, we have learned to hide anger. Pacificism and enlightenment are the answers. We learn to repress, to justify, to just suck it up. We learn to drink, to medicate, and to hide. We are successful, it seems, when no one outwardly experiences the other end of what we’re feeling. The closer we come to the embodiment of Spock, the better we are.

I don’t know how that works personally for you, but for me it sucks. I am a woman of, good or bad, strong opinions and even stronger emotions. I don’t just get angry: if unchecked, that anger ferments into a fine, ugly rage. And with nowhere to go, the emotions eat at my insides like acid. There aren’t enough mashed potatoes I can eat (suddenly craving mashed potatoes) or veiled, snarky comments I can make to reduce the bile that burns me up from the inside out. It uses too much of my energy, and I burn out. I shut down.

Here are some things I’ve learned can help when homicide just isn’t an option:

  1. Get a tennis racket. Beat your bed with the tennis racket, or just use your fists. The bed won’t care, and you might feel better. If nothing else, your sore fists might distract you temporarily.
  2. Scream until your throat hurts. I have learned that doing this somewhere where you cannot be seen is probably best. Drive to a deserted parking lot or a park; wait until no one is home to hear you, and let loose. Try not to get arrested.
  3. Write. When I say that, I mean it cautiously: don’t write something you may accidentally send on in your fervor. Write out your feelings and your venom. And then? Destroy it. No one needs to go back and read what your wrote, especially you – or anyone who might inadvertently come across what you never wanted another set of eyes to see.
  4. Break something. Maybe you have boxes in your garage that could be broken down, or plates you despise. Give them names if necessary. Destroy them. Show them no mercy, the bastards.
  5. Go for a walk. Now, before you think I am just talking about a normal walk, I’m not. Walk as hard and as fast you can. Throw in some sprints that take away your breath. Jump – on something if you can find it. Yell at a squirrel. If necessary, find another neighborhood to roam so your neighbors don’t think you’re a nut job.
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