Someone makes you mad, really mad and you break something they value – at least that’s what the movies would have you believe. You know the sort of anger, which leaves your ears burning inexplicably from a fiery rage that is the inferno that your insides have become. You can either smash their brand new MacBook, or kill their cat, Akanni Agan, but that’s largely dependent on your last psych evaluation; either way, it’s perfectly normal to react in some type of way when you’ve been hurt, or when you’re displeased. Or maybe not.
Picture driving in traffic in Lagos: it’s been a long day at the Apapa office. Getting in and out of Apapa is always a nightmare – like 170 million Nigerians commuting at the same time; so you look for traffic reports in order to strategize. You hear on radio that there’s traffic on the Ojuelegba route to your house in Dolphin Poor (Do they still call the Jakande buildings at Dolphin Estate by that name?) You then make the decision to go through Toyota – Oshodi; cutting through the madness by jumping straight on the 3rd Mainland bridge which would set you sailing straight on to the Island from the Mainland. You feel good with your plan and set out. You’re cruising down Apapa-Oshodi expressway, past Mile 2, past Cele, past Ilasa… and then you see it: a stream of red brake lights. You try not to panic, but the kpam kpam dim dim coming out of your speakers isn’t helping, so you turn it off – anything for zen. With the quiet, come your thoughts: has the neighbour who travelled with the key to the pumping machine come back? Mother’s dialysis fees are really taking a toll on your bank balance; who else is going to Ibuzor for Kelechi’s wedding? 50,000 for Aso-Ebi? It’s time for performance assessment at work again – promotion or pass over again? 7 years at this job…
Then you hear it… screech, scratch, thump! The three-wheeler contraption – Bajaj (Keke Marwa/Napep) has squeezed its way through the rows of cars, flying past at a ridiculous speed, taken off a substantial amount of paint from the side of your car, and your side mirror is suddenly not where it was 10 seconds ago.
It’s that light headed feeling first, then disbelief, followed by a loud roaring rage. You cannot be held accountable for what you do next. In fact, whatever happens next is an indication of your personality type.
An assertive person would rush out of the car, and unleash the full anger of the entire day’s frustration. Gboz. Gboz. Gboz. Knock Out!
A passive aggressive person would come out of the car, roll eyes backwards and pick up the frame of the side mirror – at least something for Musbau to use to cut a new mirror. The acting out is usually slow, hostile and sometimes misdirected. Like Alicia Florrick.
Alicia Florrick is the queen of passive aggression, and it is the reason why it has been very difficult for me to like her. The fictional character, Alicia is played by Julianna Margulies on CBS TV drama, The Good Wife. Now, for those who don’t watch the show, here’s why I believe Alicia is the poster child for passive aggression. Her husband, who was States Attorney for Cook County was indicted and imprisoned for solicitation – and sleeping with prostitutes. Through the media persecution and crucifixion, Alicia stood diligently by her husband, Peter. She was the admirable wife who took all the smut that one could get from the public humiliation of having an adulterous husband. Six years later and Alicia is still lashing out at Peter. She has had an affair, she has thrown tantrums, she has kicked him out of their apartment, she has even slept with him – you know just to show him that she can have him if she wants.
Every time I watch the show I feel like screaming “Oh for God’s sake when will you finish punishing him for cheating on you dammit?”
Whilst slightly judging Alicia, I have noted that I exhibit signs of passive aggression. In a bid not to come off as being irrational or highly inflammable, I find myself bottling up angst, hoping it would go away in a cloud of sobering maturity. I say to myself that if I ignore the offensive situation, the air of clarity will descend and I’ll be fine. The problem comes when that air never descends, and I’m going about like an angry bull in a tight clay pot shop. In extreme cases I end up crying because I can’t lash out.
Speaking to my friend about an outlet for rage, she mentioned that she once threw a plastic bottle at a TV. We went on to talk about people who destroy things in their bid for an outlet for their rage.
Bashing someone’s car because he cut you off in traffic; pouring Gentian Violet on an all white carpet; smashing a 52” High Definition television; taking a razor blade through a mink coat.
I think maybe I didn’t get a chance to express my anger properly as a child. I mean, you don’t get to throw tantrums in my house, not to talk of throwing a glass cup in rage. In fact, the fear of being given Ogbomosho tribal marks with the remnant shards will help you pocket that your anger very well.
There are arguments for and against both sides of the reaction a person has when they’ve been completely hurt and offended. However, moderation is always key. Don’t get so mad that you’ll go and incur a debt that when the anger dies down you’ll be asking yourself “Did he really offend me so much?”.
On the other hand, you don’t want to bottle stuff in so much that you’re the bitter person who keeps recounting how Dolapo stole your meat pie when you were coming from Iya Lekan’s shop in 1995.
What’s the most angry you’ve ever gotten and how did you react? What’s your most effective rage outlet mechanism?
Let’s have a session this morning, you know Nigerians don’t really believe in therapy.
Have a fantastic week ahead. Please add value in your sphere of existence. Be happy. Live. Love and laugh.
Peace, love & Celery Sticks!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Jason Stitt