Tag Archives: Anger

Dreams of Violence

Last night I dreamed I committed act of violence against a loved one in the past and this loved one kept goading me on until I wanted to be violent again. I awoke in the middle of the dream to use the bathroom and willed myself to not remember the dream, knowing it was going to bother me. I did remember the dream, and I immediately understood where it came from.

I’ve been simmering lately. I’ve been angry below the surface — not ready to explode, but angry-calm in a creepy sort of way. I’m not positive why I’ve been feeling this way — but I think it has to do with procrastination. I’d hoped that I was going to kick the habit of procrastinating after being back in Elgin where I couldn’t procrastinate or I’d never get out of there.

One of the things I’d been avoiding was calling my mom about putting me on the list of people the insurance company was allowed to talk to. I got a form from them, and assumed my mom got one too. We’d talked about it — that she would get one and would need to fill it out and send it back to the insurance company. I kidded myself thinking that my mom was going to follow through. I didn’t have the energy to call her and try to explain why she needed to fill it out, walk her through the form and have her send it into the insurance company.

Another thing I was avoiding also involved a call to Mom — to make sure she paid the nursing home bill and sent the invoice to the insurance company so they could finalize their decision whether or not to pay. If not, we’d be back at the beginning — scrambling to find a place for Dad.

So last night I got a call from my mom telling me she’d paid for a month of the nursing home bill but not all of it because she didn’t have the funds yet — some screw-up with an account her financial advisor was supposed to get to her by last week.  She’d had to use most of her liquid savings for the bill and needed a little in reserve for other bills. She didn’t know what to do next — what to send to the insurance company so they could send her a reimbursement.

I got angry. The slow simmer I’d been feeling boiled over and I was furious. Mom knew it — I know.  I told her that I’d have to call the insurance company to find out what she was supposed to send, knowing that my delay in getting permission to talk to them about this was going to be an issue with whomever I spoke to. Knowing that I should have called her last week to make sure she’d paid the nursing home and sent the invoice to the insurance company. So, I wasn’t mad at her — I was mad at me.

I did call the insurance company, then called mom back to tell her what to do and to ask if she’d gotten the form she needed to fill out authorizing me to be put on the list of people the company could talk to. She finally understood what she needed to do about the bill, but didn’t know what I was talking about regarding the authorization — even though we talked about this when she was here. She thought I should fill out the form I got and then send it to her to sign. I’m reluctant to do that because she needs to begin doing these things herself. The more I do, the less she’ll do and be dependent on others doing things for her. I don’t think it is too late for her to start learning these things.

I went to bed late, and since Dean wasn’t there (he was up late watching TV in the family room) read my current book group book. What a mistake that was. I’d been enjoying Little Bee for the laugh-out-loud parts where Little Bee discusses the language and cultural differences between Nigeria and England. Last night I got to the part where she told about what happened after the men took her and her sister to the overturned boat on the beach.  You know the phrase going cold with horror? I felt that last night as I read Little Bee’s account of the event. I went cold.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed I beat someone to a bloody pulp.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t procrastinate
  2. Don’t read about horrible things before bed
  3. Find ways to deal with the simmering kind of anger before it becomes a rolling boil.

Worst Evening Ever

First some background:

I earned a BS in Education and Special Education, specializing in what was then called Mild Mental Retardation (MMR). I took no classes in Learning Disabilities (LD) nor did I take any classes in Emotional Disabilities (ED). My first teaching job was at a special needs school for students with various learning difficulties including MMR and LD. When I was  hired for my second teaching  job, the administration didn’t consider so much at my degree, but at my “experience” and hired me to work with LD and ED students. The administration at my third job did the same and I worked with LD students. My fourth and final teaching position was to work with LD students. Except for the first teaching job, I awoke nearly every morning with the fear that that was the day I would be exposed for the fake that I was. I was sure I was going to be told I had no business teaching children with learning disabilities, having had no official training in that field.

So it was important to me that, when I embarked on a new career after grad school where I got a masters degree in educational technology, I did something I was trained to do. Unfortunately, because I lacked the experience I was not hired at the many places I applied to be an educational technologist. The one company that offered me a job did so, believe it or not, because I’d been a special education teacher. They wanted me to quickly learn all about a new law (Section 508) that was shortly coming into effect mandating, among other things, that all electronic media offered by the government was able to be accessed by the handicapped.

I did everything I could to learn everything there was to know about this law. I never again wanted to be afraid that I’d be found out to be a fraud. I also educated others. I brought back what I learned at meetings and gave presentations to people in my office, college classes and conferences. While I never loved giving presentations, and was always nervous before giving them, I didn’t hate it too much. The audiences were usually appreciative and well-mannered.

A couple of years ago I was asked to take a look at how to make PDF files accessible. I’d worked with them years ago, and declared them to be inaccessible and suggested that HTML be used instead or along with PDF files at all times. The government agency I was working with was insistent and wanted all PDFs to be made accessible. I needed the work and was up for a challenge so I scoured the Internet, asked authority figures, read books, posted questions on email lists and bulletin boards, and picked apart various PDF files to figure out what made them work and how to make them accessible. After a number of months I felt that I knew what I was doing. I was asked to show other folks how to do this so they could help me with the huge task ahead of us — remediating existing PDFs to make them accessible for a large government website.

I talked a few people through the process, but because the work came and went and because the people working with me were assigned more important work, I kept on having to train more people, only to lose them after a month or so. I decided to write down the process so I wouldn’t have to repeat myself. I did so in blog form.

About 6 months ago someone found my blog and asked if I’d help her learn more about this, and perhaps co-present at a meeting she was setting up for an organization she was in. I’d not given a presentation for over 5 years, but was so comfortable with the process agreed to do the presentation which went over pretty well. I felt exhilarated afterward, and glad I’d found a small area of expertise.

The same woman and I arranged to give the same presentation at an accessibility group in DC this past Tuesday evening. I was nervous, but felt more prepared than I’d felt at the earlier presentation. I felt like I knew my stuff. I also knew that there were people out there who knew more than I did in the field. There are always going to be people with more knowledge on a subject — I knew that, but figured that if someone was already well-versed in the subject they wouldn’t feel the need to go.  (Although, truth be told, I did expect to see one person there who I knew was an expert in this field, but judging from his online persona, was not too worried that he’d act superior or anything. He seemed like a likable fellow.*).

The night of the meeting I arrived a couple of minutes later than I expected to and found a rapidly filling room. My co-presenter had mentioned she’d be late arriving, so I set up my laptop, but because my part of the presentation came at the end, I didn’t begin talking, except to a few people around me.

Much of the audience was blind. or had low-vision. I’d discovered this a day or so earlier and was worried about how I’d explain the steps as I demoed them on screen, but figured I’d do okay. Other people in the audience were college students, government workers and a couple of people who’d been remediating and creating accessible PDFs for some time.

My co-presenter’s talk was a little different from the one she gave in January. I was happy to see she left out the 508 stuff, since the room was full of people who already knew what 508 was all about. Since she’d begun late, I was a little concerned that my presentation was going to be cut short. As her talk went on, I mentally cut out bits from my talk in order to fit it into the time we had left. Her slides kept coming, and then I was dismayed to see she was giving the first part of my presentation. As she got into the discussion of PDFs a couple of people questioned or corrected her on what she’d said. I figured that I’d touch on those topics when I gave my talk, and clarify some things. One woman in particular seemed bent on correcting what was being said, and my co-presenter was gracious and said she was glad that woman was there.

Oh, yeah. Then the guide dog started to fart.

Finally it was my turn. I was not sure where I was going to start, but showed my slides quickly — and mentioned that my co-presenter had already discussed this or that. I got into the meat of my talk (with about 20 minutes of time left — and announcements over the loud speaker that the library was closing) and the woman in back had things to say. She said I was completely mistaken in one thing I said — even though I demoed that I did it correctly, was not sure it was necessary. Someone had a valid question about something else and the woman in back said something like, “learn to use role maps”. The next time I looked she was standing up having a conversation with another PDF expert in the room.

By this time, I knew I’d lost my audience. They were tired and the woman in back had completely undermined any semblance of expertise I had. I said, Ok. I guess I’m done. Any questions? People popped up like jack-in-the box clowns. While I put my laptop away a few people crowded around my co-presenter. No one wanted to talk to me. Why should they? I was outed as a fraud.

I did go out to dinner with a group of people from the meeting, and did what any self-respecting adult child of an alcoholic would do. I ordered and drank two glasses of wine in quick succession.

*This person did come to the presentation but was not there for my part. He is a very nice person. I am sure he thinks I have no sense of humor because I was not getting the jokes he was telling — but I was basically a nervous wreck and my sense of humor is often the first to go when I’m feeling nervous.

My Mother, My Boss [Part 2 of My Mother Series]

It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I was able to understand my relationship with my mom.  I’m still not sure I understand it fully — and it might not be until my kids have kids that I do, but it is getting a little clearer as the years go by.

One of the hardest aspects of the relationship is that of authority figure. I’m pretty sure that, from a very young age, I rebelled against authority figures — except I was too shy to rebel in front of anyone other than my family, so most of that rebellion manifested itself into rage at home when I was not given my way or disciplined in anyway. I had temper tantrums and screaming fits. I once picked up a pile of newspapers and as I went to fling them on top of a brand new dining room table realized that something very heavy was among the papers. I flung them anyway and put a dent in that table that is there to this day.

My mom wasn’t all that strict. In fact she was pretty lenient. I was a “good” kid for the most part, except for the tantrums at home. There were times, however that she put her foot down — or at least made suggestions that made me uncomfortable. Like the time she thought I should talk to the popular kids that were in the same store as we were. Or the time that she suggested I stop by the office at school to see if anyone turned in my lost purse that held my retainer because I’d lost so many retainers we were going to have to pay for the next one. I remember the feeling I had about those experiences. My chest felt tight, my throat closed up. I clenched my teeth and fists. My breathing quickened. I was mad. I didn’t want to talk to Laura Holtz. I’d already asked at the office about my lost purse. I didn’t need suggestions. I just needed to be left alone.

I don’t have temper tantrums much anymore. I still occasionally “lose it”, but not like the old days. I still have trouble with authority figures though. Basically, I don’t like being told what to do — especially if I was already planning on doing it or if I had reasons for not doing it. I also have trouble when I’m questioned about an action. I guess in that case I get defensive.

I don’t usually have trouble taking orders from someone who employs me. I try to do the job I’m given. I never had much trouble with teachers or professors — I expected assignments and did them.  The authority figures I have the most trouble with are the ones that one day are my friend or associate and the next day are president of the PTA or a neighborhood or not-for profit-board member for whom I do some odd (volunteer) jobs. I have trouble when they give me assignments — or micromanage whatever tasks I’ve taken upon myself — especially if I’ve been doing it alone for years and they come in and want to change things. Sometimes, even,  my anger can rise when a friend (or my husband) seems to be taking over something I’ve planned.

The anger is the same as what I felt when my mom would make suggestions. And I find myself thinking in a rebellious teenage voice, You Can’t Tell Me What To Do. You’re Not My Mother!

I never do say that aloud, but I don’t always handle it well either. Sometimes I explain my reasoning. Sometimes I reply angrily. Mostly I say nothing, take a deep breath and move on although occasionally I tweet about it or make it my Facebook status.