Autumn Sonnichsen

One of the things that most of the human race does with anger is “pass the mad.” We want to dump our anger some place, so we bitch, grouse, needle others to get responses, take revenge, push people’s buttons…you know what I mean. Most people do it. I grew up in a family that did that. I had two marriages with men who did that. I had step kids who did that.

I find that behavior so toxic to me.

I hate it even more when I feel that churning impulse to pass the mad myself…and I hate it just as much when I pick up the mad that some one else dumps on me and start churning with it.

As I said, it is really toxic, ugly stuff.

After so many years with people who do that, a pretty sensitive emotional trigger got installed in me. I have worked hard to remove that button…I don’t want to live like that any more.

When I’m in a hostile environment, I can see that button gradually growing again…and then getting sensitive. I can see myself picking up the mad. I can see myself thinking about how I should say or do this or that. I think about how I am feeling resentful or abused or put upon. I think about how I can defend myself because “I am innocent.”

It is really tiresome. It’s an utter waste of energy.

If I can’t get out of the hostile environment or choose not to for some important reason, then I have to expend much effort to not pass the mad, nor pick up the mad.

This weekend, my buttons got pushed several times deliberately. My initial response was, “”Fuck you! and What the fuck?!” I stewed for a bit because I’d picked up the mad…

And then I dropped it. I don’t want the mad. I just want to be happy. For me, happiness is a choice and an action that we take in each moment of our lives. Happiness is my choice.

I don’t want to pass the mad.

I made an effort to be kind and complimentary despite the deliberate provocations…and the mad got passed again. The cycle inside me went round, but I still got back to my choice to be happy instead of passing the mad. I will continue to make that choice…to keep letting the mad go.

And when I stew or flare up at first…I’ll continue to give myself constancy in self love and self care. That’s the best anyone can do.

The other part of all this for me is to assess the situation from more than only my perspective…Was my compliment taken as flippant? Was being kind or complimentary a red flag…seen as salt in a wound? Did it seem disingenuous given the circumstances? I certainly didn’t intend it that way. I was genuine with her…but obviously it’s not the right time or situation to be nice to her. She’s simply not able to accept it. It seems that silence is the nicest thing to be if her behavior is any indication and the only thing she’ll accept from me.

And the final understanding of all this for me? Passing the mad seems to be about needing to be right…and needing to be good…needing comfort…about needing to let the anger and hurt go. It is a kind of call for attention to these needs. It may not be a healthy approach, but it is still a call for getting those needs met. Hard won insight, I can tell you…I’d rather not know all about it I assure you. But I do…and now I do, I try to put it to good use and this brings me back to showing myself constancy with self love and self care…

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