How to Control Anger (Text a Friend!)

I’ve been doing pretty good for the past 3 weeks being quiet about Bennett’s marriage and just enjoying our time together.

While I didn’t bring up his marriage the other day, I did make something out of virtually nothing and ultimately apologized to him.  I really don’t do well with conflict.  What I have finally realized is I go from zero to really mad immediately, with no hesitation in between. A classic characteristic of how I handled conflict with my x.

When I was married, I would scream and yell as would my then husband.  Our conflicts were ugly, mean and very disrespectful.

While I was dating Bobby I had very little, if any conflict (excluding the end of the relationship – any conflict that happened then shouldn’t have because I should have let go instead).  Bobby taught me there was peaceful resolution to everything as long as we could discuss it and speak about it to one another.

Bennett is more volatile and emotional than Bobby was, this is taking me to a whole other place of learning conflict resolution.  As much as I hate to admit it, I know I am passive-aggressive and it’s something I need to challenge myself to be aware of ALL the time.

I’ve learned how to control myself at work.  My tone of voice, my body language, demonstrate an innate sense of calm.  In fact, anyone who knows my tells will know that when I am most upset or in serious disagreement at work, I move into almost a state of stasis.  I go into a hyper-calm mode, keep people around me almost unable to escalate because I refuse to allow myself to be drawn in.  This still takes all my energy but it also prevents another terrible aspect of my personality which is when the confidence turns to cockiness.  I have learned to turn sticky situations around with some humor as well, but this is a fine line in conflict and you need to know your audience is ready to move into a relief space.   If I chose any two things to eliminate from my personality it would be the ability to get angry so quickly and the cockiness that comes from knowing how well I am doing in any given scenario.

So, I’ve pretty clearly identified how to manage myself in a corporate environment which is why I think I am finally capable of doing the job I have ultimately rose to now.  But I can’t figure out how to keep the lid on the personal side, though I am trying, sincerely trying.

Last night Bennett told me something he knew would upset me.  He waited until the right time to have the conversation, didn’t try to slip it in when we wouldn’t have time to discuss and we were both in good moods.  I sort of knew something had been bothering him a couple of hours prior but couldn’t put my finger on it and wrote it off to his dog not feeling well and him feeling a little guilty not to be home to take care of the dog.  When he did tell me, he was calm, preceded it with “I know this isn’t good news and you won’t be happy” and then said his friend needed a place to stay Saturday into Sunday prior to a memorial service they were both attending.

I got mad immediately but kept my mouth shut.  He asked me if I wanted to talk or process it and I asked to process it.  We were driving and a few minutes later he grabbed my hand and his hand was sweaty so I could tell how upset he was about delivering the news in the first place.

The truth was that I was mad that our one full weekend in 5 months was going to be cut short.  First it was the dog, then it was the memorial service on Sunday, then he had to play a gig and now I was losing an entire night and day because his childhood best friend had an argument with his sister and no longer wanted to sleep at his sisters place.  Argh.

Regardless that I felt deep down there was no conversation to be had, he (of course) had to allow his friend to stay with him, I still felt anger.  The anger wasn’t sitting well with me so I sent a text to Ann who replied immediately something like “you’re not angry, you’re frustrated and of course his friend has to stay, you’re being irrational.”  I am paraphrasing but that was the gist of our conversation and I knew she was right.  Somehow reading that from someone else pulled the anger from my belly and replaced it with the right feeling of disappointment, which I could communicate to him.

By the time we arrived to his gig I was calmer and told him I wasn’t really mad just terribly disappointed and sad I was losing the night and day.  He said he knew and was glad I took the time to think through it.  Poor Bennett was visibly relieved.

Regardless of my situation with Bennett, these are traits and behaviors I want to improve and one day eliminate.  I knew in my gut that if the tables were turned, of course I would allow my friend to come to my home and stay….but I might have offered a compromise somehow or some way to included Bennett.   I also know Bennett doesn’t think like I do entirely, I can see a scene beginning to end when I want and problem solve quickly by offering alternatives.  Bennett is more straight and narrow or black and white (sort of like when I asked him if he could care for the dog late, sleep with me, then go home in the morning and he readily agreed because he hadn’t thought of it – thanks to uninhibited life for highlighting that fact)….he’s never been in an affair and has no idea how to manage it.

Ultimately, I watched Bennett play a gig for the first time and loved it.  It was a short Happy Hour gig in a local bar and I really enjoyed myself.  He sang several songs just for me and he is a pleasure to listen to.  I even got hear American Pie which is one of my all time favorites that brings me back to childhood.

After the gig, Bennett put me in a Uber and sent me home so he could drop his gear and care for the dog, then return to my home.  By the time he arrived I had two major crisis and cracked another bottle of wine (the washing machine hose busted and water was all over the floor and leaking into the basement and my son posted a photo of weed on snap chat – thank goodness my sister saw it and called me immediately).  I was relatively intoxicated and already exhausted when he arrived about an hour later.

I opened my mouth in bed about what he would talk to his wife about and promptly fell asleep mid-conversation.  I suppose it’s not really all that important to me anyway (or I was that exhausted?).  The last thing I recall him saying was “please, please wait for me.  Please tell me you will be mine forever because I no longer see a life without you in it.”  I know I also heard him clearly articulate that he knows if he doesn’t do something soon he will lose me.  I’m pretty certain I said that doesn’t mean forever, but he said he can’t live a day, ever again, without me.

Perhaps subconsciously it was all I needed to stop me from asking more questions, or caring what the answers were.  Perhaps I was just too tired and liquored up.  Perhaps I know that I won’t make it much longer without a real argument happening about his lack of moving forward.  I don’t know.  I do know I don’t drown in those words as much as I would like to.  Of course they are amazing to hear, but I imagine a day when I hear those words from a man who is unencumbered that I can trust fully. As much as Bennett makes my knees weak, it seems my heart still has some protective covering that refuses to be unwrapped completely and allow myself faith.

I would like to believe him, it feels like I could.  But I truly don’t know what I feel as it’s so split down the middle.  As much as I love him, part of me remains closed to him, as if I cannot give him every piece of me for fear of losing myself again.  I know I can’t afford to allow that to ever happen to me again.  I just won’t allow myself to ever be debilitated by a man again.

Upon waking after our night together I felt nothing but love, peace and safety lying next to Bennett.   We spent a day doing much of nothing as he puttered around doing chores for me, and spoiling me in small ways I’m not used to – like cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast and running the dishwasher.

We ultimately ended up having a conversation about his marriage that was short, and really shed no light.  The one good thing that did come out of it was he has decided that when he tells his wife and family, he will not include me.  I have to admit that gives me a large sigh of relief.  If it means we take a break so he can do this without lying, I would consider suggesting this to him at another time, though he will doubtfully be open to it.

Bennett has a little more time, I don’t have some “date” in mind, but it’s soon in my mind.  This upcoming weekend will be one month that he asked me for a “little more time to make changes.”  I know the looming holidays weigh on his mind and he is afraid he will ruin his kids holidays forever if his parents break up around the holidays.   I get it, I understand every reasons (excuse) he gives me.  But nothing he says is what convinces me to stay with him, it’s his behaviors that keep me tied to him.  His actions towards me and the depth of his love for me are what makes me starry-eyed and filled with butterflies.

As much as I have butterflies and love, I can see I will start conflict if I stay in this situation much longer, and I have committed myself to not allowing that to happen.  Neither of us deserve it and I have already experienced a poor outcome once before from my bad behavior that I don’t wish to repeat.

I know I am writing all of these posts as a way to process my letting go or holding on.  I don’t have any of the desperation I felt last year while doing the same thing, I have more sadness – or at least that’s the best word I can arrive at.

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

11 thoughts on “How to Control Anger (Text a Friend!)”

  1. i think it is so admirable that you are paying so much attention to your own behavior in this. i think most people are always thinking about the other person and not what they are doing, and you are doing the opposite and that is amazing. ((hug))

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  2. I like the introspection, I know is not a comfortable place for you but it’s VERY good for you..

    Just a clarification in case anyone misinterprets – I didn’t tell you you weren’t angry… I wouldn’t tell someone that. I first said: “You’re out of line to be mad. Fair to be disappointed.”

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  3. Ugh. I regrettably know too well that scarcity mentality of particularly coveting those few days that you can “have” with a married man, and the frustration that comes from having that time denied. For me, the pain was almost less about losing that day here and there, but it was an ugly reminder of how untenable the situation was in the long run, barring any changes. I saw the extent to which I pinned all of my happiness on this *one* thing happening, and thus, how easily I could be returned to crushing disappointment. In the end of the day, I was choosing to be in this situation. No one put a gun to my head. You have more reason to hope than I did that things actually will change, but you have no guarantees, nor can you. And, Bennett is clearly trying to give you all he can. Again, kudos on the introspection.

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    1. I think you are right that it’s more about the reminder of the situation than the actual loss of time. If I could easily see him on weekends or spend time with his friends then it probably wouldn’t bother me the same way. He is trying to give me all he can and somehow I keep thinking “is it enough, do I really want more?”

      After all was said and done I was glad to have the time to myself, get some things done and spend time with my son who wanted to come home early. I wasn’t sitting pining for him in any way … but I am more concerned about my reaction to the situation

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  4. I’m glad I could help!

    I think you are right to not fully unwrap your heart yet. He must earn this by allowing you to be his only. I didn’t feel as intensely for Will as you do Bennet. I know when I was in a poly relationship when he was ready for another it broke my heart. I let him see all of me and it felt like rejection. I think this very conversation has made me see something about myself. I need devotion and to know I am special, I need absolutely to know it. My trust is not freely given.

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  5. You want what you want and yes actions do speak louder than words. I have a good feeling he will come around, but honestly, I think he’s going to wait until after the holidays to break the news to his family. Hang on M if you can. Hugs!

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