Sunday, March 3, 2013

Anger Management

Sometimes life shows us such contrast.

Derek has something going on with the sciatic nerve in his back and yesterday the pain got so unbearable that I took him to the Emergency Room.  Basically, they said the only thing that will fix it is time.  They gave him a prescription for some pain pills and a muscle relaxant and said go home, use moist heat and be sure to use good lumbar support sitting and walking.

The label on one of the prescriptions says "May cause drowsiness."  It doesn't make him sleepy but... oh my goodness!!!  It does make him grouchy!  And more than a little hypersensitive.

After we got home from the hospital (and I do have to compliment Cobb County General Hospital on their timeliness - I've waited longer just to be triaged many times than this whole visit took!) and got him settled, I went and filled prescriptions and picked up some Icy Hot and a lumbar support belt thingy.  Then we decided we were hungry and ordered a pizza to go with the first night of trying to get me caught up with the story line for a TV series I've never watched before the new season starts at the end of the month.

I think I've mentioned before Derek works for a national pizza chain.

We ordered, thinking a little different taste would be nice for a change, from a competitor.

Against this back drop, his mom and sister came home from shopping and started teasing him about the pizza.  They were trying to make a joke and be funny and normally it would have been shrugged off with a laugh.

But things are not normal.  We are both stressed about house buying and selling.

And he was pretty well drugged up.

He exploded like a dirty bomb to their attempted humor.

Within seconds they were all three yelling at each other like bitter enemies.  There was even a little name calling going on.  Except that there was no physical contact you'd think you'd stepped into the middle of a bar room brawl.  It was crazy!  And then almost as quickly it was over and they were the best of friends again.

I'm willing to cut him quite a bit of slack because of the drugs piled on top of the stress, but I have to admit the incident caught me off guard.  My family didn't yell.  We didn't scream.  We didn't make much of a fuss over disagreements whether they were large or small.  Both of my parents always would walk away from a fight and calm down rather than start yelling, screaming and carrying on like this.  I don't know what to do with, or how to mentally process, his family's style of disagreeing.

Luckily, we understand that about each other.  He doesn't yell at me and, on the few times we have disagreed, I've resisted my urge to withdraw.  So far that's been a good blend of styles for us. It was apropos when I happened on a short parable this morning.  While, to the best of my knowledge, neither of us had seen it until today, it's a principle we are actively striving to apply.

Photo credit:
A Hindu master had come to bathe himself in the river Ganges and, with his disciples, observed a family arguing loudly on the banks.  He turned to the disciples and asked "Why do people shout in anger at each each other?"

The disciples thought for awhile, and then one of them answered "Because we lose our calm, we shout."

"But why should you shout when the person is standing next to you?  You can just as well tell him in a soft manner what is on your mind." replied the master.

The disciples thought some more and gave some additional answers, but none satisfied their master.    Finally, he explained.  "When two people are angry at each other, their hearts grow distant.  To cover that distance, they shout to make sure the other person can hear them.  The angrier they become, greater the distance grows and the louder they shout.

"What happens when two people fall in love?  They don't shout at each other but talk softly because their hearts have grown close.  The distance between them is very small or nonexistent."

The master continued, "When they love each other even more, what happens?  They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer together in their love.  Finally they need not even whisper but only need to look at the other.  That is how close their hearts can become when they love each other."

He looked at his disciples for a long moment and then said, "When you argue, do not allow your hearts to grow distant.  Do not say words that push the other away and make the distance greater.  Or else, there will come a day when the distance has become so great that you cannot find the path to return to love."

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