This has been a weeks of ups and downs. First the ups with the weather warmer and with the time change I have a better chance of getting out of work before it gets too dark. Now the downs this week I had to deal with a verbally abusive customer that really brought up my past.
I answered the phone at 9 pm at work and there was voice the voice of someone looking for a fight. The rage caught me off guard and I sat there like a deer in headlights. She kept saying "are you there? are listening to me?" I was stunned and only sat there in silence.
My mind was was searching quickly for the right response. I knew I needed to wait before saying anything. I wanted to say a lot things but I don't just represent myself but the company too so I said nothing.
My gut reaction is from a child's point of view. Growing up my stepmother would get so angry she looked like a dragon. She would get in my face and scream at me. Anger became the theme of my life. My first love was someone that I regularly talked down from that uncontrollable rage. Going on to a marriage that when mixed with alcohol produced regular verbal attacks on me.
I can see my ex now jumping out of the car and going back to face a driver that was following us too closely. Even though he regularly did the same thing which eventually led to another angry person jumping out of their car with a knife. These were not happy times.
Today I know first it is not my fault. I thought when I was 13 that I caused my stepmother's anger and she was angry because she didn't like me and she didn't like me because there was something that made me not lovable. This was the thoughts that I took into my adult life.
After a string of these kinds of relationships I became an expert at keeping people happy. If I could say all the right things I could keep things calm and the anger under control.
It never occurred to me that this anger didn't have anything to do with me and it wasn't my job to manage anybody. When in this kind of relationship the angry person has grown over time to a very powerful position. It is scary and that is why it works for them and they continue to do it.
It works because they sincerely believe that it is your fault because it certainly isn't theirs. It is too easy to blame others for our own feelings. It takes courage and a lot of work to take responsibility for our emotional selves.
Even though she scared me I realized that it was my choice to let her scare me. My feelings were just shadows of the past revisiting. I was glad I said nothing and her anger had nothing to do with me. I was grateful she was just a stranger and not someone I had to go home to every night.