How not to be an a$$hole

Once upon a time, during a lice scare in our home, in a moment of rage and frustration I slammed a portable CD player into the wall of our guest room, leaving a substantial hole in the drywall (which, is still there, almost 10 years later).

And, it felt so, so, so good.

Because here’s the thing that seems to surprise people when I say it . . . . At my core, I am a door slammer. A coffee cup hurler. A top of my lungs screamer and expletive flinger. I have the ability to let my rage rip and, in my younger days, often did.

Why don’t you (or many people beyond my immediate family) see that side of me very often?

Because it doesn’t work. And, even if I am totally in the right (need I say that that is almost always), once I start yelling I lose any credibility I had at the beginning of the conversation.

It took me many years and more than a few ridiculous fights with my husband (who, fortunately for both of us, often chooses flight over fight) before I figured this out.

Honestly, I’m not sure I would have gotten there at all if not for our teenage son who shares my same inclinations, and with whom I’ve had many an epic battle which left us both exhausted, frustrated and apologetic. In the calm that comes after the storm, we have talked about how, whether they are right or wrong, the first person who yells is the asshole. And if the second person yells back? You guessed it, ALSO the asshole. (It doesn’t clear the deck for everyone).

Does that mean he, and I, don’t lose our temper? Absolutely not. But it happens a lot less often, and we are able to recover much more quickly.

But when I heard him telling a friend “how not to be an asshole” when talking to his mother, I knew that we were really making progress.

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