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The Guys You'll Meet on Earth, But Not in Heaven: Anger Management Failures


No, Steve never uttered a word in anger.

Last Saturday I took a short cut through Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. I was on my way to visit a friend in Alphabet City whose husband had left her after 10 years.
As I walked by the dog ring- where dogs and their owners socialized with other dogs and their owners- I was suddenly accosted by an aging hippie who began yelling at me, "Well aren't you something, all decked out in your H&M, AIG, Bernie Madoff outfit. I need a bailout now, you son of a bitch!" As he shouted more epithets that by now had caught everyone's attention, I walked away as quickly as I could without breaking into a jog.

As I left the park and walked up to Avenue C, I thought---"Just my luck to run into a remnant of the 60's who still uses the “Let it all hang out” style of anger management.

Primal Scream therapy obviously was alive and well in Tompkins Square Park.

But, as I entered my friend's apartment my attention turned to how another kind of anger management can destroy lives.

Jane and Steve had a reputation in our circle of friends. They were the ideal couple, always pleasant and smiling with never a cross word as they wined and dined us in their apartment on Saturday nights. It was reported that they had never had a real fight in their decade together.
But about a year ago Jane became severely depressed. She started having problems getting out of bed. She lost her job and only recently stopped isolating after getting some therapy and Lexapro. And now she had finally figured it out----How Jane got depressed.
It started with Steve's silence. Weekend after weekend Jane would ask him, "What do you want to do tonight?"

"Your call,” he answered each time. He would then fall asleep during "Definitely, Maybe," or get lost in the bathroom during a John Mayer concert or proclaim he had no appetite while dining at P.J Clarke's.

When Jane invited friends over, Steve would show up an hour late. When Jane's family invited her over for the holidays, Steve would dawdle until they arrived impossibly late.

No, Steve never uttered a word in anger. He just stuffed his anger until it permeated every aspect of his life with Jane. His passive aggressive ways never gave Jane a chance to assert herself. So, she became sad and helpless and then one day Steve told her he was having an affair with someone at work because there was no passion in their marriage.

I walked Jane over to the park that day and introduced her to my aging hippie attacker.

He proceeded to start screaming at both of us.

Jane said it made her feel alive again.

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