Anger Management

Sometimes I laugh inside when people tell me how easygoing and calm I am. After all, I'm the same person who once upon a time pushed both her brother and sister out windows.

Now granted, I was only eight or nine when the window situations happened, and there were definitely legitimate reasons for all that going down, but still, it's been a long hard road to learning how to deal with anger in a proper fashion. I'll never say I have "arrived" as far as that goes because sometimes things happen that let me know I'm not "there" yet as far as being a calm, rational person.

Last night my seven year-old, "O", had baseball practice at our neighborhood park. This week we also happen to be babysitting my friend's dog, Jelly, a half Chihuahua/half wiener dog, so of course, she came along too.

The stroll to the park was uneventful except for my four year-old, 'T", complaining about not getting to be on a baseball team too. We walked into the park gates and then headed along the running track toward the baseball fields in the back.

A blond in a hot pin track suit was coming toward us and she was struggling to control a gigantic dog that looked like a cross between a Rottweiler and a Pit Bull. We moved to the side to give them a wide berth to walk in. Unfortunately, she had one of those leashes that extends and this dog came barreling toward us.

My son, O, is pretty afraid of big dogs so of course he started screaming and my husband quickly tried to shoo this huge dog away. The dog wasn't going for my son though. It was going for Jelly. And I was holding Jelly's leash.

I'm pretty afraid of big dogs too since I was chased by a pack of wild dogs in China. I've just never gotten over it. And incidents like this don't help.

I picked up Jelly and this other dog starts growling and baring it's teeth at me. I remember loudly saying, "You need to control your dog," and pink track suit woman laughed and started up with the, "Honey, come over here!" mess.

Just when I thought this dog was going to bite me or Jelly, my husband grabbed it's leash and started pulling it away from us. I just kept my eyes on pink track suit and repeated in the most unfriendly tone ever, "You need to control your dog,"

What does she do? She says, "Gosh, he was just trying to sniff you. You need to calm down!"

So many thoughts ran through my mind, mainly that I wanted to punch her in the face, kick her teeth in and, well, just take her out. Calm down? Sure, I'll calm down after I, ahem, stomp your behind into the dust. You can't control your dog, it's behaving in a threatening manner to me and my children, my husband has restrain it --and instead of apologizing, you're rationalizing what happened, acting like it's no big deal and telling me to calm down?

My husband grabbed my arm and said, "Just walk away. Keep moving."

I ended up having to run for an hour after that because I was talking smack about how she better not bring her pink track suit behind back to the park ever again, and on and on -- gosh my legs really hurt today but I was running out my anger. Even after running for an hour, I was still pretty steamed over it.

That's how I know I still have issues with anger. Pink track suit was wrong to not control her dog, but I probably shouldn't have gotten that bent out of shape. I just don't know if I can ever get to the point where I am actually able to be not so angry over situations like that.


Anonymous said…
Who wouldn't be furious when a vapid pink-suited woman A) didn't control her dog and B) responded in such an obnoxious way. Keeping it all inside is bad.
Anonymous said…
Sometimes I think I have the opposite problem, that I manage my anger too well. At the age of 10 I vowed never to be as uncontrollably bad-tempered as my father and I've been pretty even-tempered ever since. It takes quite a lot to get me steaming mad. Some people say I should be angry more often but I look at people who fume and rage constantly and it doesn't seem to help them, they just get angrier.

Of course Ms Hot-Pink was absurdly irresponsible about her threatening dog but your husband's practical actions were probably the best response rather than boiling emotion. You're right though, boiling emotion can be hard to control....
Anonymous said…
We get this all the time. Our dog Rose is whistle, voice and hand signal trained. She is very obedient.

Every time we are out, we have to fend off wild untrained dogs. Their owners screaming their names with absolutely no control of them. It's ridiculous. If we confront the owner, the owner yells at us - also ridiculous.

Ms. Pink will lose her dog. That kind of dog is banned in Denver. She'll be shocked and appalled and a total victim when it happens.

Poor dog. And poor you. I am very sorry that happened to you and your son.

I have a friend with really aggressive German Shepards. She says that if you say "No" to a dog they will go away. It works some times.
thailandchani said…
Her nonchalance with the whole thing would have sent me over the edge, too. And if I tried to run it off, I'd have a heart attack. So it goes. :)

Seriously though, I know what you mean. I've always had a nuclear temper and sometimes I *have* to let it rip.
MartiniCocoa said…
I understand how you feel. Her reaction was dismissive of any reality but her own and that's enough to make me want to get my vaseline too.

the bright side you
didn't eat to stuff down the anger
you ran it out.

much better than hitting her and good for the figure.

yes you got angry but you didn't turn it into extra weight and you are aware of it by sharing it with the rest of us...
you are in a much better place than a lot of people with their rage issues.
Unknown said…
Anger management is not needed in that situation. As a dog owner and lover, I still am frightened by people who have no idea how to control their animal. I know my dog and as her eyesight continues to fail I only place her in situations where I know she will not act a fool because she can't see. That's my responsibility. It is her responsibility and to pass it off as the dog is just trying to sniff is ridiculous!! Did the dog tell her that? Did it say, "Hey Ma, I just want to sniff them I am not going to bite?" She is the reason why people are frightened of dogs. You were good because I would have said more.
Jameil said…
lmao!! oh man. girl please! you were so justified. NO ONE is comfortable with a large dog charging them and certainly not when their children are frightened. unacceptable. pushing sibs out of windows, tho?? and chased by a pack of wild dogs?? insanity.
Anonymous said…
Can you aid me with some anger management issues that I have? I live in England, UK, and I am really angry that the USA is still in the dark ages regarding racial discrimination. The recent Sean Bell incident with the police has exacerbated the downward spiral of my emotional wellbeing. What do you suggest that I do? I feel hurt and insulted by the illegal legal process that you have in the USA, whatever happened to Glory, freedom and justice? Why is there so little international condemnation? How does the USA keep getting away with these crimes against humanity? Yet it has the gall to go to other countries and lecture them about their human rights atrocities! Its absurd and surreal, what drugs are your politicians on?
To add insult to injury they use Condoleesa Rice a black icon to deliver the GOOD news globally, she looks like an evil profit of doom cabbage patch caricature, with the subliminal message that black people are evil doers even when they get to positions of authority! Although, she is probably a lovely lady in real life, so no offence meant!
Please help me I am losing all faith in the USA, the New World Leaders. I feel like I am in a bad dream, trying to wake up but I cannot. Despite my misgivings about some aspects of American life I think that in a converse way that you are so fortunate to have the opportunities that you have. I love the average American person, they are so lovely and full of hope and faith,they demonstrate their affection unlike us English. Tonight I will pray for America and pray for world peace but Doctor Liz what would you recomend for me. You always shed light on socio economic and psycho spiritual factors!
tamigill said…
One of the things that really annoys me is the fact that there seems to be more of a negative focus on someone who reacts angrily when provoked, rather than on someone who is actually provoking a ridiculous situation. People seem to love to pull the "calm down, why are you so angry" card, to justify their moronic behavior.

Okay, I'm getting angry and I need to calm down. LOL Seriously, I don't think that all of the anger management in the world would matter in a situation where a mother feels that her children are threatened. Pink jump suit was very lucky and got off easy this time. :-)
Jon said…
You shoulda beat her down! :)
the joy said…
Firstly, this story alludes to some very interesting things. You pushed your brother and sister out a window? Chased by a PACK of WILD dogs? I must know.

Also, I can understand your anger at pink track suit. I personally would have told her off just so I could have felt slightly vindicated, or else I would have been stuck in the realm of things I should have said.
Jack Steiner said…
I like dogs, but I pay careful attention to large ones that come charging towards me.
Unknown said…
I get upset about it when people don't leash their dogs in the park where I walk Lani. They really cause problems but the owners think that it is OK and can be just as clueless as 'pink track suit'. I try to avoid them but it isn't always possible. I,too, try to live a calm life. some of my friends say that they cannot imagine me angry. They just have not been around at the right moments. It is good that you are able to recognize your anger and find ways to deal with it.
Jen said…
I'd have anger issues too, in that situation. Especially given the wild dogs that you encountered. What you probably had was an attack of adrenalin, given anything. She was a ginormous (and dangerous) idiot.
Anonymous said…
I think you are allowed to be mad when a beastly mutt is trying to eat the dog you are sitting for. If your hubby had the leash all he had to do was tie it to a bench while you punched the pink lady in the eye. I'm kidding, you handled it as well as could be expected.
Not all anger is bad. Yours was appropriate.

Such people with their overinflated senses of entitlement make me very angry, too, and trivializing your discomfort and fear was shockingly bad behavior on her part.

I was holding my breath until I got to the end and knew that your family and the dog were not hurt - and I have zero fear of dogs. It sounded like a disaster coming on.
It sounds like the real issue in that scenario was fear, the anger was a natural response preparing you to either run like hell or get medieval on that dog. It's a spiritual challenge to transcend our biological wiring. I struggle with it all the time. My wife who is pregnant got rear-ended by someone right after we had started announcing it. I had two reactions, I felt like cussing God out big time and like locating this fool and hastening his departure for the next world. My father who is a biologist reminded me of the biology involved in my response. I thought it was a blessing that my wife and our unborn were unharmed and that I had not been present at the time because it would have been really hard for me to behave myself in that situation! So anyway, its the fear that I think we have to struggle with, anger is like the ethanol that fuels the fight or flight response.
Unknown said…
I'm with Jon, she deserved the beat down!

Seriously, don't be so hard on you! You have every right to defend your family ~ It is part of the responsibility of owning a big dog that they have manners.

My pit is a princess because I want people to see her curtsy and prance and behave! Just like everyone else in my household! So that said, that is a reflection on her and she and her dog need schoolin! Sad to say, I am sure everyone else in her home probably has the same "I rule the world" mentality.

Liz, I dont know your protocol for commenting on others comments on your blog,so please excuse this if I offend you, but @ anonymous:

Re: the NYPD and Sean Bell, I can only say, while I never condone police brutality, if you are out in the wee am the night before your wedding with strippers, drug dealers and other known convicted felons as your fiance and kids are asleep anticipating to start their lives with you, are you really behaving responsibly??? Human rights violations and endangering the public at a bar are not the same thing.
Anonymous said…
This is something that just drives me insane - people who don't control their dogs and don't understand when you get angry about it. And it's not just yuppie ditzes. I threw myself over my baby in hs stroller when a boxer was growling and barking at us, and advancing rapidly, and yelled at the old woman who owned him to get her dog. She started screaming furiously at me! I try to be polite to old people, but I could happily have wrung this one's neck
Dirty Red said…
You did not get out of line. If that had happened in the neighborhood I grew up in, that woman would have been on the 6:00 news crying about how some crazy-ass black people shot and killed her crazy-ass dog. So you acted pretty rational I think.
Liz Dwyer said…
OK, I've been a blog slacker and haven't replied to your comments till now! So sorry I've been MIA! It's just been REALLY hot here in LA over this weekend so I've been out of the house 99% of the time AND two baseball games for my son. Anyway...

I like "vapid" as an adjective for her. It suits very well. I guess I just worry that sometimes I react to things in a way that's a little "I will kill you!" It's just not good.

I firmly believe that out of control anger doesn't help anything and actually harms your body and spirit. I don't like feeling like I'm not in control of my reactions to other people. But I've gone to extremes of not allowing myself to be angry about anything and then being angry about everything under the sun and not knowing what to do with that. Neither extreme is good. Balance is needed!

I absolutely appreciate it when folks really train their dogs. I do feel bad for pink lady's dog because I'm sure something bad will eventually happen. The dog we're sitting this week, Jelly, looks at me like I'm smoking something when I tell her to sit, but she's the size of a peanut and is really docile so she's okay to manage even though she has NO training. Still though, I think that no matter how small, if she was my dog, I'd take her to school.

It was total nonchalance and a bit of superiority too, I think. And for me, no heart attack while running, thank goodness, even though I totally overdid it. My left knee was killing me yesterday. Hmm, I'm getting old.

That's true, I didn't even think to stop the guy with the ice cream cart and buy up all his chocolate and vanilla drumsticks. But my kids did! They were all, "Can we have that ice cream? Don't you have a dollar, Mommy?"

Moody Gemini,
You make me feel better about being afraid dogs. I definitely wouldn't be surprised if her dog bites somebody one of these days. I just didn't want it to be me, my sons or Jelly the Dog.

As far as saying more to her, my 7 year-old son told me today, "No saying the "B-word" when we go to the park today, ok, Mommy?" Oops! He must heard me mumbling to myself after she walked away.

Yeah, the window issues when I was a kid -- I suppose I could say it was that survival of the fittest instinct kicking in. And the wild dogs in China -- actually it was on Taipa, one of the islands that make up Macau (which is now China). After that went down, I was totally friends with whoever wanted to eat Fido for dinner. (And I only personally experienced folks trying to eat their dog once over there. Thank goodness I'm a vegetarian and avoided having to eat the family pet that got hit by a truck!)

I feel you and I know what you mean. Too much to say in a comment on this. Let me think for an hour or two about it all... and I hope your prayers helped a bit.

That's true. Folks do pull the "anger card" as a way of deflecting from their own culpability. It's weird how this pressure to act like inappropriate behavior is alright sometimes shows itself in the oddest places. I think she totally expected me to just laugh the whole thing off and say, "Oh, it happens. No big deal!"

Well there you go! Love your directness! LOL!

The Joy,
One of these days I'll tell the window stories-- or as much as I can remember of them. I'm sure my memory is different from my sister's. Maybe I'll interview her and ask her what happened. As for the pack of wild dogs -- see the comment I left for Jameil but I was saved by Divine Intervention, a couple of passerbys managed to strategically hurl rocks at them.

I had a dog till I was 12 so I wasn't afraid of them before the China incident. Here in LA there seems to be an explosion of dogs with owners that lack the time or inclination to properly train them. Such a shame.

Seventh Sister,
I think having kids made me really realize that I needed to get a handle on my anger. I've never been the type to explode and tell people off -- more the type to plot your take-down. I'd definitely boil inside for ages and then act out in destructive ways. And I'm with you. I don't like dogs that aren't on a leash either. It's the rule at the park that every dog has to be on a leash, but many owners don't keep their pets on them. And in the case of this woman, she had her dog on a leash and STILL couldn't control it.

I definitely think I had quite an adrenaline rush because I stopped thinking rationally and just thought about wanting to hurt her. And then there's the guilt because, gosh, what would Gandhi do? You know?

I think I'm feeling that idea. Except for the fact that I'm sure she'd then file assault charges against me and sue ME for emotional distress.

I also SO holding my breath that the dog wouldn't bite my son because I could just see his fears about dogs being multiplied a thousand times over by the experience. He's not afraid of the dog we're babysitting for but part of that is that she's the size of his shoe and just wants to lounge around and snore. Anyway, two days later, I am still steamed about it and that definitely makes me wonder. All in all, I am glad that I didn't react to her in a violent manner, because I believe that's giving in to a lower nature --but it sure is tempting!

Oh wow, my heart starts beating faster just thinking about your wife. I'm so glad she's alright.

You're probably so right about the reaction being fear based instead wholly anger based. "Medieval" is exactly what was going through my mind! And the ethanol of it? Okay, biofuels truly have arrived, haven't they?,
One of my cousins used to have a bunch of pits and he raised them to fight. He'd make Michael Vick look like an angel and those dogs used to scare me to death. But I really do think any dog can be vicious if not trained properly.

And you are more than welcome to engage with other commenters, especially since I've been SO slow to reply. In fact, I like it when y'all interact!

The whole Sean Bell situation -- I'm 100% anti strip-club and I know he had some run-ins with the law before and he should've been arrested for drunk driving, but I think the police were in the wrong. Gosh, where's that "Blink" book when I need it -- I'm totally reminded of the chapter where Malcolm Gladwell talks about the Amadou Diallo murder. The officers see something based on a mix of experience, prejudice and fear and that's how they shoot 50 rounds of bullets.

I've chatted with family members that are in law enforcement, especially those that are like, "If I told you to stop, you better stop," and their take is that the 50 shots is excessive force and given that they fired on a moving vehicle (a no-no) there was a definite lack of justice being served. The police say they identified themselves. The two friends that survived say they did not. The police say they heard one of the friends leaving the club and talking about getting a gat, others deny that. Who's telling the truth? In the meantime, that baby no longer has a father.

She started screaming at you? Oh wow! I guess folks of all ages can be seriously off their rocker with their pets. What's with not recognizing that protecting a person comes before an animal's feelings. Maybe folks that want to buy a dog should have to get a pet license and then pass a little course just like you have to do to drive.

Dirty Red,
Very true. But nowadays, folks think they can have their dog jumping all up in your face without a single consequence. I do wonder what the legal consequences of such a thing would be -- can you shoot someone's dog if it's behaving in what you perceive to be a threatening manner and the owner does nothing about it?
1969 said…
Uh....I have no advice here because I too have issues.

Call me next time you go to the park. I've got your back!
Anonymous said…
Anger management does not mean you do not get angry it just means you are able to control your anger so you did well in this situation!!! As for pushing your siblings out of windows you were a child and had not yet learned to control your anger so you have been forgiven. As for the Sean Bell incident - feel sorry for his family but I know those officers kept shooting out of fear!! All those critizing their actions should try patroling the drug infested, prostitution strip club areas of their towns and then see how well they handle the situation!!!! Every day each officers goal is to go home safely to their families and the fear that they won't make it can make any one keep shooting to make sure they do.
Lisa Blah Blah said…
I second that emotion -- you were right to be angry, and you channeled your anger productively. I have seen far too many people with dogs they don't know how to control. At one point in the apartment building I used to live in, I got onto the elevator with a stick-thin young woman and her fired-up pitbull. The dog kept charging toward me and she kept yanking him back and finally she had to pin him against the wall with her body. Had my child been in the elevator with me, the dog would have been right at face level with her. I waited until the woman got off the elevator and followed her at a distance down the hall to see where she lived, and then I began a campaign with the building manager to get rid of the dog. It took about three weeks, but I got other neighbors involved (who had also had problems with the dog) and she was told either get rid of the dog or get evicted. She got rid of the dog.

I like dogs. I have always liked dogs, despite being attacked by a dog which outweighed me by 25 pounds when I was 26 years old. (If you shaved my head, you would see I have puncture wound scars in my skull. I can totally relate to your fear of being attacked.) In a few years, when I own my own house, I would like to share my home with a dog. Having said that, there is no substitute for a responsible pet owner. You are completely justified in being upset, and I applaud your husband for being brave enough to grab the leash and protect his family.
Lisa Johnson said…
I agree with everyone's comments. You were right to be angry! Just thinking about this makes me angry! I can't believe some dog owners who don't control their animals.

I wasn't run down by a pack of wild dogs like you. Wow! But when I was a kid I was chased down by two dogs on two different incidents and bitten. I was very afraid of dogs for a long time. I'm still a bity wary of them, but I'm not as afraid as I used to be. I think you showed great restraint. That woman is gonna get beat down one day. You just ran the anger out. That's a pretty positive way to get over it.
Liz Dwyer said…
Yes, childish solutions are to shove folks out windows. Now I can use words like an adult! :)

It can't be an easy task to have to have your judgment right every single time. I don't know how officers deal with the fear that they aren't going to go home, and after a certain point, there's got to be an emotional build-up where you see everybody as a possible suspect. That's a whole lot of pressure.

I'm glad the campaign to get rid of that dog in the building worked. I think that's part of the reason my landlord is so adamant that there be no pets here. Folks just go overboard and get some Cujo type animal and can't control it. And oh my goodness, what happened to you with that dog attack is horrible. Puncture wound scars? Gosh, I'm glad you survived to tell the tale. I only got chased, not bitten. I don't know if I could even stand to be around dogs if I'd been through what you have.

My knee is still hurting a bit from that run. I think I need to soak in some epsom salts or something! I'm glad you also survived that dog attack. I think that pink track suit will probably get in a situation with her dog one day where someone won't react so positively. It's a shame but it's bound to happen.

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