By Bob Livingstone
Ron was driving home from work and the traffic was an absolute mess. He was tired from dealing with his boss who was impossible to please and very difficult to get along with. He was sick of having to hold back from telling him how much he hated his guts. Cars on the freeway were either going too fast or too slow. The vehicle behind him had its bright lights on blinding him in his rear view mirror. He wanted to immediately stop his car, get out and hit the driver in the back of his head with a tire iron until the cows came home.
Cars cut him off left and right. Ron yelled at them through rolled up windows and would frequently honk his horn at cars going too slow in the passing lane. Why were so many people so insensitive to others and were they just plain stupid? He sensed his exhaustion as the rock and roll on the radio was turned up to both heighten and validate his rage.
He pulls up into his apartment parking space and turns off the car, finally. He sighs and is relieved that the evening commute is over. He greets his partner Melinda at the door with a less than passionate kiss on the cheek. He and Melinda have lived together for almost ten years now. They have had some rocky spots during that time, but he loves her very much. He is thirty five and she is thirty four. They don’t have any children yet, but are considering it. Ron works as an engineer for a high tech company and Melinda is a graphic artist.
She cooks him dinner every working night and he is thankful. She then tells him that she would prefer that he bought blueberries that were fresh rather than moldy ones. That is when Ron went off. All logic escaped him as he fired back, “I work hard every day and try to do the best I can and all you can do is criticize me for buying moldy blueberries? They didn’t look moldy to me. I can’t believe that you are attacking me for this. What about all the good things that I do? You are thoughtless and insensitive. How could you possibly even get your lips around these words? Why do you hate me so much?”
Melinda responded, “Ron, you know that I appreciate all that you do. I tell you that all the time, but you get so mad when I make a simple suggestion. You think I am attacking your character when all I am asking is that you pay more attention when you buy produce.”
In the back of Ron’s mind, he knows that Melinda is right and this only serves to make him feel ashamed for his outburst. He chooses to turn into the self-pity mode and he says, “I can never do anything good enough. I am just not a good person. I say these mean things to you all the time and I can never seem to change this behavior no matter what. I should just go.”
He picks up his car keys and Melinda says, “No, I’ll go stay with my friend Judy. I am so sick of you playing the victim card. You always do this whenever I make a suggestion. You say I’m mean and cruel or that I have bad timing. When the hell am I supposed share my feelings about your behavior? I walk on eggshells all the time not knowing when you are going to explode.”
– Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..
– Bob Livingstone is the author the critically acclaimed Unchain the Pain: How to be Your Own Therapist, Norlights Press 2011, The Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain through Exercise, Pegasus Books, 2007 and Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager’s Healing Journey through Sandtray Therapy, Booklocker 2002. He is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker in private practice in The San Francisco Bay Area and has nearly twenty five years experience working with adults, adolescents and children.