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Anger in Waiting: Connie’s Story

Connie glanced at the clock on the dresser, agitated by how late it was. Almost simultaneously she heard her husband call up to the bedroom from downstairs. Rob wanted to know when she’d be ready to leave, and it was obvious by his tone of voice he was irritated at her tardiness. He’d said to be ready at 5:30, and she still had six minutes left, according to the clock.

“I’m coming,” she yelled back, even as she pulled the dress over her head. She still had to finish her makeup and do something, anything, about her hair. Nothing was ever easy.

He called again from downstairs, and Connie felt a surge of anger. Why was he putting such pressure on her? What was the big deal if they were a few minutes late? This party was for Rob’s work. She didn’t even really want to go, but it was expected. As far as she was concerned, if they came late and left early, they were better off. She decided just to forget about it and hurriedly finished up. If being there on time was so important, then he’d just have to settle for what he got. This was as good as she was going to get, and if wasn’t good enough, that was his problem.

Inside the car, all was quiet. Rob thought about turning up the radio but decided against it. Instead, he concentrated on driving, bewildered at another of Connie’s “moods.” He never knew what triggered them because she refused to talk about them to him.  He’d done or said something wrong, that was for sure. With a quick dart of his eyes, he glanced over at Connie to see if a thaw had started. Nope, she stared straight ahead, with that look on her face, not saying a word.

On the outside, Connie was quiet, but on the inside she was carrying on a passionate, angry conversation with herself. Her inner thoughts were a jumble of indignation, still blaming Rob for the pressure to be ready on time, to “perform” for his work.

Along with the anger was shame; Connie was ashamed to be so inadequate. She knew she didn’t look as good as she should. She always felt less than others thought she should be. She never could, it seemed, break out of the prison of other people’s expectations. Whenever she looked at herself through her eyes, she always came up short. It used to make her angry as a kid, and it hadn’t gone away as an adult. She knew she didn’t measure up, and that made her ashamed. At the same time, Connie hated being measured, and that made her mad.

At this point, everything made her mad.

SOURCE: Chapter 7: “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” in Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Your Anger by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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