Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Careless Terry is Mortified
Terry couldn’t get over himself. He had hit his neighbor’s car while pulling into his driveway. He was mortified at this inexcusable mistake. How could he be so careless? He wasn’t unusually tired, so why hadn’t he been more alert?
If Only the Clock Could Be Turned Back!
The damage to the car was the least of Terry’s worries. Shocked, he was unable to take in any words of comfort or reassurance from his wife. He was oblivious to the affectionate nuzzling of his dog, and the adoring smile of his two year old daughter. He replayed the scene in his head a million times. Each time he pressed the rewind button he rehearsed ways in which he could have avoided this disaster. If only the clock could be turned back.! But life wasn’t that kind, and neither was Terry. He tortured himself for not paying attention and bringing shame on himself.
Terry Wants To Hide In Shame
Visions of being chewed out by his neighbor flooded his mind. He imagined being shunned when he walked his dog. Everyone would know what he had done, and think badly of him. How could he hold his head up around the apartment complex again? Choked with horror he couldn’t eat dinner. He couldn’t sleep either. As the next day approached, all he wanted to do was to numb his feelings and hide from the world.
Terry’s Wife Becomes Impatient When Terry Shuts Her Out
The next day was a blur. Terry called in sick to work and didn’t take calls from friends or family. He exiled himself from the world in a depressive funk. One day turned into five weeks – thirty five days of shutting himself off from everything except his self-recriminations. His wife at first sympathetic and understanding became impatient and irritated.
“What’s up with you? You’re not interested in our child anymore, you’re mean to the dog, and you avoid me like the plague. It’s intolerable. You won’t talk to anyone or let me help you. I’m fed up with being shut off. I’m moving in with my mother.”
The Worst Imaginable Scenario Is About to Happen
In a flash Terry’s wheels started turning. The worst imaginable scenario was about to become a reality. He must be an ogre for his wife to threaten him with the one thing that mattered more than anything in the world- being a good dad. Terry felt powerless. His wife had all the cards and he had no bargaining chips.
Terry Recalls Being Made Fun Of
The hollow pit in his stomach growled as he recalled his father punishing him by taking him out of the school he loved when he missed getting chosen for the football team. At that moment he had felt like a moron that wasn’t fit to be alive, never mind a part of his family. Terry tasted the bitter cruelty of kids taunting him as he relived that humiliating experience. He wanted to disappear then as much as he wanted to evaporate now.
Terry excelled himself in math at his new school. Gradually he won the respect of his teachers and class mates. He was nicknamed “super-math-man.” Kids asked for his help with homework. This superman thing was quite something! It got him noticed, made him popular and gave him a reason to take up space. But the one thing it didn’t do was get his father’s attention. Terry’s confidence was squashed by his father’s mocking tone calling him a nerd.
The Old Familiar Battle Begins Again
Accidentally hitting his neighbor’s car rolled out this old familiar battle. The battle to win approval by being superman. Losing concentration and hitting the car burst the superman bubble. All that was left was the reincarnation of the ridiculing remarks made by the brats at school, and his father’s belittling comments.
Terry played both roles. He was Superman until he hit the car. At that moment he forfeited his right to be a husband, father, friend and colleague. Terry the brat took over, gloating at Superman’s downfall. The brat was in his element, enjoying this moment of superiority, laughing as Superman became hu-man!
Terry’s Desire To Be a Good Dad Rescues Him From Depression
Superman Terry’s refusal to eat, take calls or be comforted was his way of going off to die having lost his battle. But Terry’s daughter saved the day. His strong desire to be a good dad made him put the old battle back in it’s box, and try a different playing field. He took the plunge and come to therapy with me.
He discovered Terry the gentle, sensitive, loving and smart human being, who could forgive and learn from his mistakes. The turning point came when he got accepted and cared for because he was human enough to make mistakes. Receiving compassion enabled him to put it on his menu. Now he takes calls and responds to his wife. Terry was glad he got depressed because it gave him the impetus to let go of the superman versus brat battle and sign the hu -man peace treaty.
Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you have while reading it or implementing any of the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.