Pissed Off & Losing It

Written By Robert Hawke
Will Vanlue bike in rain
Photo: Richard Masoner via flickr Creative Commons

Oh My God, I was pissed off.

The lady on the bike was looking at me with something close to hate. I’m sure I didn’t look much better.

We were staring each other down at a stoplight. My inner Gandhi (if he exists) was searching for insults. Her inner Buddha (if he existed) looked like he was getting ready for a cage match. We yelled at each other. I won’t repeat the conversation but you can be sure we weren’t wishing each other a happy birthday. The sky was starting to spit rain at us on our morning commute and my opponent and I were both determined not to back down.

I tried desperately to maintain some sense of scale. This was no big deal. It was clear that I should just let it go but I was finding that very challenging. I absolutely did not want to be reasonable. Earlier that morning, news had come through the talking wires that a family member had passed away and I was desperately trying to hold my shit together.

The strange thing was, I’m sure we are both kind and reasonably evolved people. If we met at a party, we would have witty and insightful things to say to each other. But not in this moment. We might as well have been kicking each other in the school yard.

Eventually the light changed and I used a whole lot of that anger to speed me along to work. The experience bugged me for days. Was it completely unnecessary? Was it actually a healthy burst of anger in a barely civilized world?

Beats me, but this stuff has to come out in some way shape or form. We have to make room for this. Maybe letting off bits of steam can prevent a major blow up. Maybe we can remind ourselves to let this bad stuff out in ways that stays safe for us and those around us.

The situation reminded me of my journey with cancer in that, no matter how hard we try to keep it together, sometimes we can totally lose it and be remarkably unreasonable and “not like ourselves”. Life after a cancer diagnosis is a tricky thing and as much as we try not to have things bother us, they do. It’s OK to be pissed off, sad, angry…whatever. It’s also very OK to find a place to put it that won’t hurt you or someone else. That way we can get to work safely and there will probably be less yelling in the streets.


How do you safely blow off steam? Share with us on Facebook.