July 20, 2003 - Sunday
(after all these years)
Iím like my father in that
anger comes easily and like him, I'm usually angry about something. His
drinking makes it worse but even without the alcohol, he has always been an
unhappy person. I grew up on tenterhooks; always waiting for him to explode
about something. He never hit me. His verbal wrath hurt more than any
physical blow and he dished it out at the dinner table every evening.
Too often I find myself
behaving like him and because of that, I think I understand him. Heís my
example of how not to act and in that respect at least; heís been an odd
sort of father figure.
Iím told that anger and
depression go hand in hand and Iím predisposed to both. For me, itís a
fascinating subject and I often puzzle over how these feelings came about.
Itís the ďnature vs. nurtureĒ question. My doctor says that my personality
was probably determined on a ratio of 60/40 with the higher number on the
side of DNA. In other words, even if my parents had been June and Ward
Cleaver, Iíd still be struggling with these feelings. Most likely my father
drinks because he has these feelings too and his way of coping led to
alcoholism. Because of that I try to cut him some slack but Iím also trying
my best not to be like him.
Letting go of anger is
difficult and being thin skinned, I could never be a politician. Someone
would make a comment about my wife and Iíd put
Edmund Muskie to shame with my weeping rebuttal. People who can let
things drop and go smiling through the rest of the day fascinate me.
Jon Stewart made an interesting comment about having to do a comedy show
even when heís feeling nothing but rage. He said you gather all your anger
into one place, and then swallow it. Thirty years later, while sitting
around the thanksgiving table, someone spills the gravy and all hell breaks
When is it appropriate to show
anger instead of repressing it? Punching a pillow just doesnít do it for me
and Iím usually compelled to go to the source and confront the issue.
Dwight Eisenhower said a key to being a good leader is to postpone talking
to someone when youíre mad. He always forced himself to wait till the next
day before reprimanding any of his officers.
Boy thatís hard. I want to
track them down at that moment and settle things once and for all.
Eisenhower is right of course but man, itís hard to do.