Would You Rather Vent Or Pause?

A lot has happened since the pandemic began. My businesses took a very hard hit, and the man I hoped would make things a little easier to bear abandoned me. It was like I was standing at the edge of a cliff, and he pushed me. I took my failed relationship harder than my economic loss. In my mind, I can always earn back the money I have lost, but the man of my dreams? When one believes with all his / her heart that he / she has found The One, how can one avoid the excruciating pain and the inevitable anger that goes with the agony and suffering?

What made the break up last year all the more frustrating was the fact that I could not even release my anger. Not necessarily at him, but I was mad at life. I did not know what I could have done to deserve it (all right, a few comes to mind for sure, but still!) or how can something (or more appropriately, someone) I value so much and thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with leave me? I mean, I had a ring! I understand that is not a guarantee, even married couples (some who have been together for some 30 or 40 or 50 years) still separate.

He is certainly not a stranger to divorce, and I wondered for a while if the things he told me before were all lies or he was insincere or maybe I just misunderstood him. It does not make the pain any less or anything, but I still would like to think that what we had (what I remember, and not imagine) was real. I am not proud to say, however, that like any other normal human being, I went through a period of anger. During those times, instead of questioning his intentions or the universe for allowing such a tragedy to occur or myself for that matter, I was beside myself with rage.

How could he do that to me? How could he just throw away what we had? He once told me he might regret letting me go someday and that he will never find someone as kind and loving as I am. That is after he deserted me. It was even more intense while we were together. Like he would always marvel at how well I seemed to fit in his arms or how I complete him (do not get me started, of course I made him elaborate on this) or how he thought I was the reward for all the good things he has done right and after everything he has suffered in life. I would never forget the last email I sent him (that he has actually read, anyway) and I told him not to pretend to be kind because he is not, or something to that effect.

Someday I will apologize to him. One day I will explain that unfortunately the dominant emotion I had that time was resentment. Maybe when that time comes he would not even remember, and more importantly, I would not feel anything towards him anymore, no lingering affections, no wistful thinking of what ifs and what could have beens and (heaven forbid) no more anger. I imagine when that time comes, I am happy, not necessarily with someone (though it sure would be nice if it turns out he is right and a better man is coming my way) but just at peace with myself and what happened between us.

There’s a myth that won’t seem to die in the popular understanding of anger. Back in the 1960s, psychology (doing the best it could as a very young science) put forth the notion that “venting” your anger, letting it all hang out, was the way to go if you wanted to be emotionally healthy.

Venting (a.k.a. cathartic expression of anger) feels great in the moment, and it would seem to make sense that letting it out, instead of keeping it bottled up, would be a good idea, like letting some steam out of a cranked-up pressure-cooker.

Nope.

In the 1990s, research definitively showed that letting off steam actually leaves you more prone to do it again and again (it does feel good, after all). Venting keeps your nervous system primed for more angry responses, and you’re more likely to keep venting and stay more primed for more angry outbursts.

Whatever you practice the most is what gets wired up to be the first and fastest route in your brain. And the “hit” of dopamine that you probably get from venting makes it all the more addictive.

Marsha Lucas, PhD: Rewire Your Brain for Love

I am not sure where I stand with this letting out one’s rage or managing one’s anger and resist the urge to vent yet. But maybe I am a little glad I did not have the proper channel back then. We were in the middle of a lockdown and not only will I have to deal with annoyed neighbors but actually have to pay a fine for excessive noise or something. And I imagine if I just started screaming angrily or smashing things on the wall, my then 6 year old darling would be traumatized, or at the very least scared.

I also did not have the luxury to go out and drink with friends and all. So the only outlet I had was crying a lot, not eating much and let alone work. So “maybe” ( https://toabettersarahraisingsophia.wordpress.com/2021/07/05/would-you-rather-accept-or-judge-maybe/ ) it was a good thing. Instead, I redirected all of my energy into working on myself. I am determined to prove that what does not kill one only makes him or her stronger. Contrary to what I thought around March, I still could not see the light at the end of this dark tunnel I find myself in, but I would be wasting the opportunity if I do not do all I can to come out of this tragedy stronger, healthier, more resilient and better. Oh, and happier than when it all started, I am constantly working on that. I owe myself that.

From now on, I would consciously try to pause first when I feel like I am starting to get angry. It certainly works with Sophia, whenever I feel like snapping at her, I pause first. I daresay my brain has been rewired that way already.

What made you angry recently?

#ToABetterSarah #WhatTheWorldNeedsNow #FromZeroToHero

Happy 34th matchsary to the older, happier us.

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