July 25, 2018

yelling at the top of my lungs at inanimate objects

I'm not allowed to get mad at people.

This doesn't stop me from feeling anger when someone does something or is something deserving of anger.  I'm just not allowed to feel it toward them.  For some reason found within the constellation of issues I contain, I turn it inward, on myself.  Getting angry at someone therefore means getting angry at me, which hurts like hell, so I usually don't even bother to react.

This does not apply to inanimate objects.  They're safer and they get the brunt of my feelings.  I yell a lot at things that are not people.  It's to the point where it has become a comical shtick in our house.  I go on a tirade because my napkin fell on the floor for the third time in a row at dinner, and P.J. and the kid laugh and say, "That was one of your good ones," when I'm finished.  The words come out very fast and sometimes they can even distinguish them.  It's become a habit.  I get positive reinforcement for the humor.

There's a problem, though.

Today, I had another whack at the light fixtures.  An hour and a half later, I was covered in itchy popcorn ceiling dust and tiny bits of fiberglass insulation and not a little humiliation.  The fixtures I purchased are difficult to mount, and I would get one screw fixed into the little hole and line it up and slide it, only to have the other one pop out and make a little "clink" sound and relocate somewhere up in the electrical box or, more often, onto the floor, causing me to climb down the ladder for the thirty-fourth time to retrieve a small object that cannot be seen on a wood floor.

I got them mounted.  I went downstairs and flipped the breaker and came back upstairs.

Of the four light bulbs involved, one worked.  My wiring wasn't twisted correctly.

I stood with my fists clenched beneath the light that remained unlit and that, incidentally, was the more difficult of the two and had elicited the most cursing, and I yelled at it.  "GOD-DAMNED COCK-SUCKING FUCKING BASTARD PIECE OF SHIT!"  The "shit" was loudest, at a scream.  It was emphatic.  I wanted this light to know I did not think highly of it in any way.  I directed my rage at it, the rage I actually should have been feeling toward myself for sucking at light fixture installation and not hiring an electrician like everyone else does.  I stood and stared for a solid minute, thinking wistfully of baseball bats.  Wooden ones.  I don't know why.  Metal would have done the job.  But I wanted wood.  A solid wood baseball bat in my hands that I could use to bash the hell out of the glass fixture cover.  Then I got the hand vacuum and cleaned up all of the debris on the floor, because I was over it and there would be no further work today.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing, even though I've properly vented at the object, primes me for an episode of self-injury, if something gets piled on top of it at some point within the next several hours.  And as luck would have it, I was washing my hands a few minutes later when P.J. yelled down the stairs by way of pointing out the problem with my habit of yelling.

"Um ... dear?"

"Yeah?  What?"

"Um ... if you get a second ... whenever you have a minute ... um ... could you maybe come up here and comfort your dog?"

"What?  Why?"

"She's kind of hiding under my desk and shaking."

"Why, because of the vacuum cleaner?"

"No, I think it's because you yelled at the light."


This has been happening a lot lately.  I yell and Rose thinks it's her fault and then I have to immediately comfort her and tell her good girl and Rose is a good girl, yes she is and it's okay.  I feel three inches tall when I do this, and I do it almost daily.  Rose was hit just like I was.  It lives within her skin, just like it lives within mine.

I was focused on my own little compartmentalized world of bullshit and it didn't occur to me that yelling like that would affect her.  It did.

I should have felt it then.  Right at that moment.  The swell of anger, the rising tide.  The transition from abused to abuser to avoid the decimating pain of conviction and condemnation.  I should have ended up on my bed, slapping myself until I saw stars, hitting my head until I was foggy, punishing myself for hurting an innocent creature, for doing such a vile thing, on top of being incompetent and failing at an important task.  I should have been punished.  Severely punished.

Except that I didn't feel any of those things.

I felt slightly angry and more than slightly annoyed with myself.  I indulged in a bad attitude and yelled back that Rose would just have to wait because I had bits of fiberglass in my face and it was not a tenable situation.  I felt ashamed and didn't want P.J. to look at me.  I didn't want to face her.  Many strong emotions, some out of proportion, some indicative of my completely irrational ways of coping with fault and error.

But I didn't hit.

I didn't even have to sit on my hands to keep hitting from happening.

Therapist Gumby and I did the first round of EMDR addressing this yesterday.  I'm gobsmacked.

When these things happen, the kitchen tongs always deserve it, and so does the gas candle lighter, and so do these infernal light fixtures.  They deserve yelling and throwing and bashing with wooden baseball bats and hatred.  They deserve to be punished.

But Rose does not.

And neither do I.

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