March 15, 2002
March 15, 2002

RAGE Road Rage. Teenager's Rage. Rage pervades our society. Anger turned inward becomes rage which eventually, if held long enough, becomes depression. It usually happens when the individual perceives the power structure of his/her world unmovable, uncontrollable. Show rather than tell, illuminates my point more strongly: As a youngster of about thirteen, I was slammed into a bulletin board by a teacher when I asked her if I could make up a class detention (rather than single out one trouble maker the entire class was detained) because my mother was recovering from an operation and I wanted to help her with our restaurant/hotel duties. I had previously felt sympathetic to this teacher because she had told me as we rode on a Greyhound bus into the next town that she had had a nervous breakdown the year previous before joining our school. On the same occasion she stated that the next day was her birthday. I liked her so it occurred to me to get her a gift.

I baby sat so I had money of my own. I was looking for a present for Mother's Day. Actually I bought an Apple with perfume in it for $17 for Mom and a less expensive gift for the teacher. However, on the ride home, I thought of the old adage "An apple for the teacher" which delighted me so much that I decided to switch gifts even though the gift represented 68 working hours for me at 25 cents per hour. I enjoyed imagining how pleased she would be. Suddenly, a feeling of reticence came over me. I was only able to put it on her desk and as I walked away, she screamed, "Don't think this will buy you a good mark!"

As an adult, I would have answered, "My marks have always been exemplary, why would I need to purchase your good will?" Moreover, her response shocked me into silence as it did not fit my intentions of a joyous loving gift. Indeed, I felt foolish and guilty that I had not given my Mother a more deserving gift. For about a year, the unfairness of the situation and the resulting roughing up left me fretfully consumed over the injustice of it all. After a year of feeling hurt, angry, and poorly treated, I began to reassess the situation. Those emotions were creating sleepless nights and gloomier days. I felt alone because no one came to my aid. At first Dad had responded by going to the principal's home, but when he was not there Dad never tried any other protective measure.

I noticed that the teacher still had her job. She was not disciplined for ripping my dress open, in front of the class and slamming my head repeatedly into the blackboard. I remembered her saying she had been mentally ill. I made a decision to let the situation go based on:

1.) my inability to establish justice,
2. ) her obvious paranoia, and
3.) my need to become happy and at peace with myself again.

I changed my perception because no one was ever going to apologize for what happened. I also recall that I spoke assuredly believing in the correctness of my verbalization. Perhaps it was mistaken for arrogance. I knew I hadn't acted up and had felt justified in being released from the group obligation even though that was the school's rule. Actually most of the teachers did not enforce that with me since they realized I studied and did not misbehave. Faced with a strict application of the rules, I felt betrayed. Seeing all sides of the issue from varied points of view I began my trek toward becoming a counselor without even being aware that this event was another stepping stone toward my eventual career.

It was a valuable lesson that I utilize constantly when I am the brunt of any injustice. I have come to value difficult times because they have taught me how to cope. I give my problems to a higher power so that I don't fret about their outcome. I don't expect any spiritual help to do my work in order to solve the problem, but a belief in God really does cushion the agitation. Should you not believe that there is anyone or any God to help you, then you must rely totally upon yourself to view each trauma as a new experience to be mastered so that you will be prepared for the next happenstance. Regardless of your belief system, the way to handle rage is to choose whether you wish to feel miserable for the rest of your life or whether you want to alter your viewpoint to include how others react so that you may feel content . After all the most important person is yourself.

Why let anyone create a melancholy which you have the power to dismiss. For, Without sorrow in our lives, we do not learn compassion; without misery, happiness. Adults are not immune from the rage they show when they drive. Feeling trapped due to money constraints or unable to live harmoniously with significant others causes frustration that becomes released inappropriately on the road against other drivers. Homicidal and suicidal subliminal emotions are at work especially when the driver feels satisfied that s/he has caused another person's discomfort. If you are among the number that justify your road rage, please be aware that you are a potential murderer as deadly as if you fired a gun at the driver before you, as you manipulate your ton of a machine too closely behind another car.

Do you want to be responsible for some adult and/or child's death? Reassess yourself. Go for counseling. Deal with your issues. Resolve them. Replace your rage with exuberance!