Saturday, May 7, 2011

Inner and Outer Wrongs

Several years ago I was in a car accident that was without a doubt the fault of the other driver. He crossed my lane of traffic right in front of me without warning. I ended up with a back injury that radically altered my day to day life for close to a year. Thankfully I healed fully under the careful care of a Network Chiropractor who was also a Buddhist nun. 

When I was able to drive again, I noticed an unexpected impatience with other drivers' careless and thoughtless behaviors on the road. If someone was going too slow, or made an honest mistake, I was as patient as I had ever been (for the most part), but if someone didn't use their blinker AND they were driving aggressively, an anger would surge through me. 

The driver who had injured me had been both careless and aggressive. I know this because of his behavior on the road, but also because after the accident he tried to blame-shift the accident to me, and as I logically rejected each of his attempts to blame me, he would change his story, looming over me and getting louder. He was not only refusing to be held accountable, he was trying to throw me under a bus in order to do it.

I've not had success in quelling the surges of anger when someone on the road with me is driving like a jack-ass, but I've learned to recover myself more quickly, and I've realized that my anger is justified but I don't want it to extend more generally so I work to keep it in perspective. 

I get angry now at Roi a lot for what might look to someone like minor issues, and the anger flashes before I can contain it. But I've investigated this anger and it is clear that it is stemming from his careless and aggressive behaviors and his bullying of me to circumvent his accountability. Though his "aggressiveness" is often passive-aggressive, it is still aggressive.

We have two cars and three people in the house who might need them at any given time. Roi also has a motorcycle, so he is the only person in the house with two options. Lexie needs a car the most to get to her classes, and because she's a teenager and always has "places to go" and "people to see". Two days ago Roi had the second car for the entire day and I was effectively stranded at home. He'll be taking the car for the entire day tomorrow as well (and won't be here for Mother's Day, but that's another issue). As of last night he told me he would be spending the entire day today working at home to make up for lost time.

Per the usual, he came downstairs clearly ready to walk out the door without telling me where he was going OR asking me if I needed the car. When I told him I needed the car in an hour, he got huffy about it. He came back a couple minutes later and said, "Are you ACTUALLY going to leave at 11:30?", adding unnecessary emphasis on certain words. The words were a question, the tone an accusation. 

When I bristled, he said, "I didn't think it would hurt to ask."

I bristled more, angry at his tone and veiled accusation, and furthermore the attempt to not own the accusation for what it was. Is is part of a bigger pattern of his selfishness, his lack of care, his dismissal of my needs as important, and passive-aggressive bullying to get what he wants without being held accountable, and I've grown impatient with it. My anger flares and I shine a light on what is true and real rather than accepting his skewed coloring of the situations.

I describe this not to make excuses for my own behavior, but to examine what is wrong in my "inner and outer" world, and to find balance and honest "seeing". My anger is a clue to two things: that there is something wrong with my outer world (Roi's disrespectful and unkind behavior) and my inner world (my pattern of playing "nice" and expecting others to reciprocate and getting angry when they don't meet my expectations). 

So, JUST FOR TODAY, I'm going to pay attention to my real needs and state what I need clearly and let the rest go. 

As always, tomorrow can suck it.

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