Mostly cloudy with a chance of rage storms

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Last night Greg flew into a rage over our oldest [teenage] son’s teenage-ness. The son was having two friends stay over, one of which has been in some rather serious trouble. The kid in trouble is a good kid who has made some crappy choices. His father called me and was very, very nervous about letting him stay anywhere overnight and I assured him we’d text back and forth and that I completely understand his hesitation.

Kid comes over and, of course, teenage son decides to change plans and heads out to an unknown mutual friend’s house with another friend of theirs. Greg goes from zero to 60 and starts to text teenage son with authoritarian demands. Greg stormed around the house, franticly pacing from room to room, slamming things (including cleaning up the bit of mess in the kitchen that I had not while he was gone all day). At one point, I asked him to please let me handle it since I was involved from the beginning. On his stormy way out to the yard he said “Sure. Handle it.” [heavy sarcasm, anger, slammed door. whatever.] He then proceeded to barrage teenage son with texts and demands and when I went outside to fill him in on my exchanges with the other parent, I saw what he was doing and explained that we were going in different directions which is confusing. [Common problem here. He flies off in action without getting facts and reacts rather than thinks first.]

Momentum kills; especially in conflict situations.

Screaming and yelling kills; people shut down and cannot hear what is being said – let alone think rationally.

Of course my calm reaction fueled Greg’s fire and I recognize this is his problem not mine. I was sufficiently grounded from his emotions to the extent that once his anger was turned on me with disparaging and sarcastic remarks, I reacted rationally. I asked him “What are you doing right now? Are you attacking me?” This seemed to stop him but I really didn’t care as I gathered my things and left the room to call the teenager. He followed me outside and sat down to listen to my conversation with our son and then got up in disgust [because he didn’t like the way I was handling it], went inside and slammed the bedroom door which rocked the house. I was unaffected and went inside and said “Did you just slam the door?” He stormed into the water closet because he was in full rage and I left the room shrugging my shoulders.

The kids eventually made it to my house and all was fine. I explained to them all that the dad contingency was merely worried and they worry because they love them, that’s all. Of course my teenager thinks any parental controls are stupid, but that’s to be expected.

Greg came out of the bedroom about a half an hour later and went outside for a smoke. I floated out there a few minutes later and we sat there in silence. I was perfectly fine with the silence. I was centered. Greg wasn’t getting any attention from me as he put his head into his hands. I recognized that as a fairly typical tactic to reel me in where I feel like I have to make him feel better about his rage, but I didn’t take the bait. I quietly went back into the house and chatted with the boys as they made coffee. [Yes, coffee at nearly 12:30 a.m. ugh]

The rest of the night was uneventful. I didn’t ask him what was wrong. I didn’t feed his anger. I simply let him have his anger, if that’s what he wanted.

We haven’t discussed anything related to his outbursts this morning and I won’t bring it up. I am choosing not to let it affect me.

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6 thoughts on “Mostly cloudy with a chance of rage storms

    • Thanks Frank. I am now searching for a list of “how tos” when it comes to handle these sorts of situations. Until and unless Greg decides to figure it out for himself, I can almost guarantee it won’t stop. Even after that, reversing whatever causes this behavior may take a very long time and one way or another, we still have to co-parent whether we’re together or not. I feel for him in this struggle but what I’m not recognizing is that I can’t do anything except shield myself for my own mental health. I know there is no single right way to handle such things, but your comment was affirming so thank you.

      • In all honesty, I don’t think there’s a set way per se to deal with these situations, as the nature of BPD means that a response which works for you one day when dealing with him may well not work the next day. I don’t mean that to sound discouraging at all, I just mean to say it’s very much a case of playing by ear and using your intuition. In which case, I personally think you’ll manage well if you follow the path you’re on now. You seem very intuitive indeed.

        I find it interesting to see how different people with BPD deal with a situation. Given your reaction to what happened, my instincts would have been to defuse myself almost immediately. It interests me that you write that your calmness fed his anger. I have to admit, that unsettles me a little, as it’s very alien to me. Your calmness in that situation would have spread to me very quickly almost via emotional osmosis, if you like.

      • Good points, as always. I’ll work backwards…

        I think the reason my calmness fed his anger was that I didn’t allow myself to react with my usual codependence (e.g., seeking to solve the problem or make it better for him). The lack of reaction basically let him sit with his behavior and hopefully take ownership of it. It seems that Greg’s anger generally escalates when I give in to the momentum and participate. My mind becomes jumbled and I can’t think, therefore I can’t problem-solve. And one of us has to be the parent. When he realizes that he’s out of control, he also realizes he isn’t engaged as a parent/spouse. To him, I think, this represents failure which seems to set off a cycle of self-loathing. These are my observations anyway. IDK. “Not that kind of doctor” lol!

        As to the first point and things working one day but not the next, it makes perfect sense to me. If there’s one thing I learned growing up in an alcoholic household is that nothing stays the same from minute to minute and therefore the survival strategies one adopts must be agile. I am nothing, if I am not agile.

        I am also intuitive, which is part of the problem that feeds my codependent behaviors. From my earliest days I have been trained to read the environment, including people’s moods and body language. The subtleties matter because, back then, it meant the difference between being caught in the fray and staying safe and out of sight.

        Since I’m a “big girl” now (ha!), I am trying to work on what I own and that includes not swinging to the other side of the continuum from hypervigilance to apathy. I’m not much for apathy and I think it’s dehumanizing from experience. If anything, Greg would benefit from reassurance that he is human.

  1. When I read your “about me”, I sorta expected this lost gal… You are not, but what do I know?! You are apparently exiting the co-dependent phase that may have fueled your drive to start your blog!

    While I’m not a parent, I was a teen, and I will say, all I wanted was to deal with my teen crap in my own way and if I had a parent who chilled out instead of freaked out, I wouldn’t have felt compelled to act out. Kudos to you new friend!

    • Thanks Lisa! Nope, not a lost girl, just a lost girl inside of an accomplished woman. 🙂 I’ve omitted many details about who I am for anonymity and therefore have omitted some of the potentially identifying components of who I am. The essence, however, is definitely here.

      Codependency has been part of my life, my whole adult life only I didn’t realize it. I dealt with [what I thought was] the origins and leftovers of my ACoA “stuff”, including codependency, in my early 20s but it’s something that resurfaces throughout one’s life. It’s a process that recurs in different manifestations over and over again until one learns the lessons they are supposed to learn and changes accordingly.

      Apparently, I wasn’t finished “dealing” – ha!

      I’m struggling hard with parenting and my husband. We have different perspectives and I basically raised his kids throughout their teen years so he didn’t experience the day to day like I did. Now, with the second, set – I’ve seen this all before. The only thing I know is that the authoritarian crap doesn’t help at all. It only makes things worse. That said, I’m not trying to be my children’s friend either. There’s still no reason to flip out because, as they say, “speed kills”.

      Nice to know ya! 😉

      Dharma

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