There are a few nights a month where I lie awake, fighting in my head. Sometimes I argue with myself over something I did which I perceive as stupid, silly or embarrassing. Other times I argue with my husband about chores, child care, and cash flow.
Once in a while, I mentally flail, bite, and scratch at some issue that brings fantasies of blood and gore and violence into my mind.
It is the last conflict on that list which draws the most energy and creates the most anxiety. As you might imagine, the first rule of that fight club is that I never talk about it.
Because if I did talk about it, the ground on which I stand would shiver and shake until it opened beneath my feet into a pit of snakes and scorpions who’s venom would scorch my sanity.
So, usually I don’t talk about it. Whatever IT is.
I freeze, become irritable and hyper focused on housework and the children’s behavior, skip meals, drink too much coffee, and tend poorly to myself and those around me in general. On one level I look passive, like I am giving up, or accepting, but on another level, deeper inside, I am being churned like the sea in a tropical storm.
As a clinical social worker, I am supposed to be an expert in communication skills and conflict resolution. Why then, am I unable to make peace with this screaming banshee in my brain?
My professional side understands there are probably deep rooted issues related to my desire to please people, juxtaposed against my strong sense of righteous indignation, adjacent to a few primitive ego defenses, and criss crossed with my need for peace and quiet.
On a personal level, I can tell you that because I DO sit in my professional chair helping people work through anger, aggression, and miscommunication all day, this work is what I DON’T want to do in my private life. I fantasize that I can come home- whether to my actual house, or to my own head- and things will just fall in place, where they need to be.
But real life doesn’t work that way, does it?
Chocolate helps. Walking helps. Pema Chodron helps. Breathing helps. Blogging helps. Watching TV or reading helps.
Silly as it may sound, I have special jewelry, imbued with meaning and memory, that helps.
Holding my children helps.
Chanting through the long, midnight hours helps. Om shanti, shanti, shanti. Om shanti, shanti, om.
Still, my mind bounces back into the ring, boxing madly at the adrenaline, cortisol, and testosterone plaguing my gray matter, which in turn shouts slurs and insults the likes of which I will not dignify in text.
Or maybe I should write down all the things raging in me in the middle of the night. What would it be like to see them in black and white? Would it help to expunge these demons, or would it serve only to add accelerant to the blaze?
Invariably, after a few days, I go back to my normal, non-violent-minded self and wonder what the fuss was all about, so it begs the question, “If a rage goes on in my own mind and no one hears it, did it really matter?”
What gets you heated? How do you handle conflict, whether constructively or explosively?