With my cruise control set at precisely 59½ mph, the black SUV got right up on my bumper and stayed there for the next twenty miles. Driving down the highway, all I could think was, “Is the driver behind me in a rage that I’m driving the speed limit?” My anxiety grew with each passing mile. That’s when it hit me. Rage. My entire life has been controlled by rage. I anticipate it. Imagine it. And fear it dreadfully.
If you’ve spent much time with someone with a rage problem, you already know the stomach-twisting knot of anxiety that forms long before the rageaholic actually explodes.
The worst part is the anticipation. Will it happen? When will it happen? How will I survive being raged at yet again?
When the explosion of rage finally happens, it’s almost a relief. The dreadful anticipation is over.
Oddly, that’s why I enjoy watching sensationalist shows like The Jerry Springer Show. Shows where the participants yell, scream and swear at each other. Their laughable, pathetic attempts at temper amuse me. They haven’t got a clue on how to really rage at someone properly. How to terrify and intimidate them utterly.
It wasn’t a question of “if,” but of “when.” Months might pass without an explosion. But sooner or later, the peace would be shattered by screaming, swearing, shouting, snarling, fists beating on inanimate objects.
Hands curled into fists would strike out, crashing down on the dashboard of the car if he was driving. If he exploded in the house, he beat his point, his thesis into our heads with a snarling raging voice, twisted face and fist striking the table for emphasis. It was utterly traumatizing.
Anything could receive the impact of his rage. Sometimes he beat the air with his fists, but usually fist met kitchen countertops. The bathroom vanity. Woodwork. Chair handles. Dashboard. One time he broke the ashtray in his car door in a rage. One time he hit the edge of the bathroom vanity and cut his hand. Blood.
What could set him off? Anything. A clogged pipe. The car breaking down. Being served the same meal for the third evening in a row. Co-workers’ “incompetence.” Frustration.
Often I’ve wondered, his moroseness, his moodiness, his frequent slumps and depressions. Were they all a result of the catch-all excuse of Seasonal Affective Disorder? Or were certain days a trigger, perhaps reminding him of his first wife? His rageaholic father? His nasty mother? He raged at his current wife long before their wedding. Running out of the room in a fury, only to return penitent. She, foolish codependent woman that she was, always stayed, apologetic for “whatever I’ve done to make you mad.”
It wasn’t her. She only flicked the plug off the towering volcano of his rage.
Instead of addressing his demons and darkness, he acted out. Holding it in for months and then suddenly exploding in rages that might last, intermittently, for hours interspersed with periods of resting alone in a darkened room, the door slamming behind him. Would he emerge penitent, tearful and broken or stoked to rage at us again. We never knew.
I was told he couldn’t remember what he said during his rages. Blackout rage. It is unconscionable.
His rages left me shattered. My nerves were in shreds. Easily startled. A cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof. How often has my husband chuckled, “If you were a cat, there’d be claw holes all over the ceiling.” It’s called PTSD and it’s no fun.
Life is better now. No one rages at me anymore. Such behavior would be unthinkable. Ridiculous. Unimaginable. It’s one of those things that should never happen.
But I’m still terrified by rage.