The Mad Hatter
I am quick to anger after a lifetime of put downs and controlling family and friends. I just took it for years. The extreme physical abuse of my father sent me to school covered in black and blue whelps and a grandfather who wasted no time tearing me down verbally. I had brothers who thought they were better and one who used his bible to justify his cruel attacks on my life.
But then..something clicked when I turned 50 and I decided I was going to fight back. I determined that anyone who even remotely hinted of disapproval or attitude towards me was going to get a face full of me. I purposefully set out to frighten them all with my response, getting loud and angry, sometimes getting in their space and daring them to say one more thing to me.
Funny.....it actually worked, and in my personal world, the villains have all pretty much backed off.
My concern is that I’ve carried that retaliation to the streets and with a 40 minute drive to and from work, my integrity and patience is tested every day. I get mad if someone tailgates, speeds up on me or flips me off.
I feel like Im a good driver and I work to be polite and kind but the moment someone pushes me, I truly flip. I have often fantasized about having a fake gun under my seat that I could show thru my window for intimidation but I know that would get me arrested just as fast as if it were a real gun.
I have gone as far as keeping a can of Wasp and Hornet Spray under my seat because I read that if someone is going to attack you, that the spray is accurate up to 20 feet and can blind your attacker as effectively as pepper spray. Still....I know that could get me an assault charge.
Yesterday I tried to pass a vehicle in a lane that would merge a few 100 yards down the road. The driver sped up and wouldn’t let me in front of him, so I floored it and when the road ran out I was still doing 90 mph in the shoulder of the road and the guy was still flooring it so I couldn’t get over. So I just cut in and missed a serious accident by a mere inch at 90 miles an hour. I watched in my rear view mirror as he swerved all over trying to regain control of his vehicle. Thankfully no one was hurt and I got away from him before he could cause any more trouble.
That’s when it dawned on me that I definitely need help.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. It’s good that you have the mental clarity and presence of mind to know when you need help.
One thought that occurs to me is that you developed a strategy for dealing with your family that worked, but it does not work for you in other situations. Giving others a “face full of you” was certainly a way for you to come out of the victim position, and stand up for yourself powerfully. But if you stick with that strategy, you’ll find that you will need to get more and more aggressive, which is not a good thing.
Think in terms of standing up for yourself, instead of standing up to someone else. This is a subtle but important distinction, and I encourage you to think about it. When you stand up for yourself, you may be doing nothing more than taking the best possible action to ensure your safety on the road. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what I recommend.
Success in driving has nothing to do with the message you send to other drivers. It has everything to do with getting from point A to point B safely. That is the entire purpose when you’re behind the wheel, and needs to be your exclusive focus.
If you feel the need to heal some deep-seated anger, you will find the guidelines you need on this page. These are powerful tools, and the more you use them, the more skilled you will become. Also, like any tools, if you use them once and stop, they will be of little or no use to you at all.
You are a wise person, and that’s why you asked for help here. You know that there is a better way. Trust in that spirit of goodness and wisdom within you.
My very best to you,
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