needs and wants #2 – on anger

Earlier this evening, as I drove – I thought about a thing my dad always used to tell me about Cars, and about Driving

It stuck with me more than many of the other things he tried to teach me, about driving

Why it stuck with me, I’ll have to think about some more, before I try to come up with a potential explanation for


But he told me that he believed that any time two drivers end up in a collision

Each had to have made some kind of mistake


Not giving enough space to stop suddenly, if it was needed

Not paying full attention

-you glance at your phone for only a second

but that one second is when someone else makes some kind of mistake – for whatever reason

and you find yourself with not enough time to evade


There are, I believe, exceptions to this

those few, truly unavoidable accidents

But, I suspect – they are far less common than we tend to think they are


To think bigger on this topic

and apply it to Anger

to conflicts



That kind of thinking led to some pretty foundational shifts in how I view the world, and the people within it


If we take a silly, but fairly clear example

Say, of two people arguing about what 2+2 equals

One says 4

The other, 6

Both are adamant

Getting heated

Both have, in their minds- clear evidence that they are Right

Well, in this case-

If they do not come to an agreement

Then there was something each could have done better

Maybe did not communicate with enough patience

Or find the words that resonated

To illustrate the proof of accuracy

And 2+2=6

Could have clung less tightly to the need to be Right, even if it’s not accurate

I read a study, once

That talked about Anger

And our brains

When we are experiencing Anger


Our heartrate goes up

Blood pressure, rises

And when those things rise above certain levels

Our brains lose the ability to process novel information

We are, quite simply- unable to change our minds


About anything

And at that point, the science doesn’t matter

The evidence

does not matter


Because we are unable to process it.

I think about this, sometimes, when I think about the ways in which using meth created difficulties in my life- one of the big ones was a tendency (and I believe that I saw evidence of this, in the other people I knew who used it) to try the same things

but harder

when running into obstacles


Really obvious solutions, or ones that ought to have been, were simply…not

Maybe that ties into the anger thing somehow, but I’m not sure

What I do know is that when I began attempting to put into a practice a Rule

Of not continuing a discussion, if I felt myself getting upset

Only for long enough to go have a cigarette

Maybe read for a few minutes

Listen to a couple of songs


And continue the discussion once I felt able to express how I felt

That was the only thing I found that has ever really worked, for me, personally

To not be as likely to say the kinds of things that I later deeply regretted

The kinds of things I generally didn’t even believe

But which were designed to wound

(Even if that’s not what I realized I was doing at the time)


There is just no other explanation- if I said something that made someone feel worse than they had before, and it was not something I could honestly say was spoken out of a desire to teach, or whatever – something that was just an inaccurate guess


Then there is no purpose other than wounding

And that was one of the biggest challenges for me

To accept the evidence my brain tried so hard to keep me from seeing –

the evidence that I could, at times- be a mean person


But those kinds of things

Are so hard to see when we are actively experiencing Anger


If we posit that everyone is human

And that therefore

There are reasons behind behaviors, even if they may seem initially unfathomable

It becomes, in my mind

An obligation for me to try to better understand them

I don’t believe that anyone truly believes anything I see as Wrong- without, somehow, seeing it as Right

On some level

For some reason


There are some things which are personal choices

This is getting into territory I don’t like traveling to

Too close to politics

So I’ll maybe stick, for now- with the kinds of things that I do not believe fall under that category

Harming others, without their clear and genuine consent
(so, like, I am not talking about the kind of stuff people might be into for fun/safe bedroom games!)

I am talking about physical harm, yes

But also emotional harm





Words and tone, in my experience- actually can cause more harm, in a more lasting sense, than sticks and stones

Although- I’ve personally never really seen an example of physical abuse occuring without emotional abuse to go along with it

Maybe it happens, and I’ve just never witnessed it

But the people who hurt others like that

I believe

Have not been taught a better way

In a way that resonates with them

In words that speak to them

They are frequently people who have undergone incredible amounts of trauma themselves

And I’m not saying I believe we should immediately empty out our prisons

Or even stop arresting people for committing those kinds of crimes

I just believe that it might be possible to begin lessening the chances of those kinds of crimes from occurring, in the future

If we can find ways to begin seeking the humanity

In everyone


My cat, Pico- he’s a bit of a bully

But he used to be so sweet

He’s getting better now, getting nicer again

But it takes so much patience

So much effort and attention, just to have made the headway we have

He went through a lot of scary stuff

And it changed him

But not forever


If it takes that kind of patience and time

To begin healing the trauma of a cat

Imagine how much it takes for to begin to heal the kind of trauma that might cause a person to seek to harm others?

We, as a society- do not have that kind of patience

Right now

But I feel like that’s partly because this is another Closed Door

This is another one of those things

Where some people are just Broken



So we don’t really try to fix

We patch

We address what symptoms we can

With medications

And prison, when those fail

I don’t know.

I’m just going off of what I have noticed in my own head and behaviors, and making some pretty big guesses here- but guesses based off of observation

For me, I hurt people the most

When I was hurting the most

Now that I am feeling like that hurt has been healed
Like I am able to heal it, as it happens

Now, I feel like I am better able to help heal others in a way that is tangible, even if it’s generally minor

So maybe

It’s possible that if we look at that first example

And replace 2+2=4
With society

And 2+2=6
With people who seek to harm others

We, as a society….
Perhaps even have a responsibility here to try to summon the patience

And to try to find the words

That will help people who seek to harm others

Understand that there is a better way

And to teach them how to get there, in their minds

In a way that resonates

Without excusing those kinds of actions


Being nice does not mean being easy.

Being nice does not mean enabling

It means giving everyone


Not just what we want

But what we need.



I spent three years living on the street in Los Angeles. I came out of that, changed. This is my story.

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