dr jim gordon / 2019

For many, Anger... is scary stuff. If someone saw mom or dad go into a rage, or if they were the objects of the wrath of someone, they might feel they should never ever get angry because they don't want to be like that person. If as a kid they did get angry at mom or dad, mom or dad might have said “Don’t you ever get mad at me again! I’m your mother/father.”
Scary feeling because, some folks feel they might go over the deep end if they get angry, not realizing that they do have some control over their anger, and they need not have to let it go to RAGE. They are afraid they will lose control. So even if they have identified some specific experiences in their lives that were traumatic such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, they don't process those experiences and hold on to the pain.
But there are those who live quite emotionally healthy lives, recognizing the reality that there are daily challenges in life, dealing with difficult people and aggravating situations. We all run into people constantly who would like to control us, hinder our progress, or who just are jerks! Everyone’s life contains a certain amount of pain and suffering. Conflict and pain are often the greatest tools in teaching us how to survive, live and actually to learn to enjoy life. Without conflict and opposition, we would all live a very ‘beige' and bland existence. If you check my website, in the Inspirational section- ‘Life is Precious’, there is a great picture of the Grand Canyon, with the quote, "Should you shield the canyons from the wind, you would never see the beautiful carvings” and thus erase half the beauty. It's the wind, and the rushing water that has cut and shaped the canyon into the beauty we observe. Often too, when we meet older folks who might be wise sages, we note the cragginess, or sculpting of their brows, and we note that those features that usually come with wisdom and knowledge they have learned over their years.
A number of years ago, my life partner died after a few years of living with a terminal disease. Following his death, I did a many lectures about death and dying. After one lecture I did which happened to be to a group of therapists, one of the people came up to me and spoke for a bit. She remarked that she was impressed that I had been able to talk about such a difficult subject with sensitivity, and yet include humor. She mentioned that l had the majority of my audience members in tears at some point. She said she understood what I was saying, because her younger brother had come to live with her and her husband and their kids during his final months of his life. She felt the pain but also said, "Isn't it a wonderfully immense growing experience for those who are around someone who is going through the dying process, it's a shame someone has to die to teach us so much about living." Amen, and yup. It is a humbling experience, and you really learn to appreciate Life, when you experience the death of a loved one. It shakes you into the realization that you are mortal, and that you don't have full control of everything. And... That it is okay, to not be a little ‘god'. WE ARE MORTALS. A sobering thought for many, and really for many not experienced until you have someone close to you die while you helplessly just help them transition.
Sometime back, a very controlling and ANGRY man who was fairly new to my group, came up after class and told me he was pissed off at me for being so mellow while I was leading the group, and ANGER MANAGEMENT group where he had expected to see and feel some anger. He was a large man, well over 6 feet tall, largely built, and had a booming voice, but he said he was intimidated by me, all 5'8" of me. My ‘peace' bothered him. Here we were in a group of 10 angry men, mostly Domestic Violence batterers, and I was being cool and chilled. He said he had 26 folks working under him at the his school where he was vice principal. He said he had to yell at least 2 or 3 times a day to maintain control and yet, how could I have control over these 10 angry perps (as in perpetrators) and be so mellow? I suggested that in my years with cancer hospice groups, working 7 years at a stroke rehabilitation unit, 5 years as the first HIV/AIDS counselor, and losing family members and many friends to death, that, yes, that might have something to do with my actions. After all those things, I had learned what to deal with in life, what to get mad at, what to love and when to chill. Dealing with death is a humbling, but reality based learning experience.
For instance, what do you tell Bessie, who was 91 years young, she had a stroke and fell off her lawn tractor in 100 degree heat - she ended up in our Rehab Unit - and, now she looks at you with her big blue eyes, which matched her shock of bluish hair!, and then she asks if she is gonna be okay? “Am I OK doc?” Well, one day when I was on duty, I was the one who got to tell her, "Bessie, here's the situation, your body is shutting down, your kidneys are failing, and I'm sorry dear, but .... maybe seven days to ten... not much more dear, sorry." People say it is hard to watch their loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia die, but those patients don't know what's going on. Bessie did. She was mentally alert, sharp, but had 10 days, and I got to tell her. At that point, it really sucks to be human, and not able to ‘fix or control' things. Yup, there are things that are more of an issue, than others, and part of our life is to choose the right things to fight with and deal with, and set aside the little crap. MORTAL, I couldn’t wave the magic wand and fix here. I was sad, and a bit angry at God and Life.
Much of our ANGER stems from NOT being able to correct things. We are going to ‘teach others a lesson’ by cussing them out, spanking the kid, yelling at the cars on the freeway... BUT we are MORTAL, doctors and nurses learn that the first time they lose a patient no matter how hard they worked, but others never seem to learn that. It is a fact, so LIVE WITH IT, and do the best you can with what you have and the time you have on this earth. Make your Journey count... IF YOU LIVE ON IN SOMEONE’S HEART, you really don’t die.
Dr. G.