Are you stupid? Do you see a ‘No Turn On Red’ sign anywhere? Fucking drive, you asshole. Oh no, you’re really old. I’m sorry, old man. You shouldn’t be driving, you know.
Hellooo? It’s fucking green, you idiot. Oh, you’re gonna slow down on purpose, I see what you’re doing. I’m gonna find your mother and piss on her, you son of a bitch.
I say these things – rather, scream them – at least once a day from the safety and anonymity of my moving vehicle. The windows are closed so no one actually hears my words, but they see my mouth moving and my hands banging the steering wheel. I wouldn’t blame them if they called me crazy because I’m sure I look it when my rage escalates so quickly, for barely a reason.
My family tells me when I was little – 3 or 4 – I would get very angry very quickly, to the point I’d find myself unable to respond in any way but by screaming: “I AM ANGRY!” as my veins attempted to break free from the skin on my neck. I would scream it as I raised my hands and curled my fingers into a tight semi-circle of hatred. Except I had a lisp and my own way of pronouncing certain words, so instead of saying “estou nervosa!” I’d yell “estou lervosa!” That, of course, was just one more reason for my brother and sister to make fun of me, at the height of my rage, forcing me to stomp outside and scream at the top of my lungs. I often relied on my dog to lick my face and calm me down, which she always did, reinforcing my conviction that my only chance at happiness would be to run away. Girl and dog, free from bullying siblings and parents who enjoyed watching the scene so much that by the time they ordered the elder children to stop, the young’n had already suffered irreparable damage.
I’ve gotten my self (and friends) in uncomfortable situations that could’ve been avoided had I simply ignored and walked away. But I couldn’t shut it, clearly, and when I encountered an asshole, I made sure to express my opinion in the least possible respectful manner. And I was ready to scrap if needed be.
It wasn’t always like this. Moving to the U.S. at age 12 and not speaking the language forced me to become a spectator and an imitator. I wasn’t barking orders at the boys, as I’d often do during Catholic school recess; I was now sitting on the sidelines, trying to pick out one word out of ten, and watching for clues of how and when I was to react. Eventually I overcame the “language barrier,” and my overt confidence was back in full force. The shy kid who’d spent many lunches at the library was now very vocal about the vapidness of 90% of the high school student body and my own intellectual superiority.
I remained that way for years, encouraged by the fact my family and I have a serious problem discussing “feelings.” In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to mention the word in my house without hearing: For fuck’s sake, what kind of esoteric shit are you reading? Quit the stoner talk. My brother was the worst – unless I was going through a truly upsetting situation, he’d greet me with Hello, giant whale. Such greetings invariably resulted in mini fights when I was younger because, like most girls, I desperately wanted to shed the unnoticeable extra 5lbs I perpetually carried around my waist.
Most of the time, what irritated me greatly deserved no more than a mental note of its occurrence. When a friend annoys me, I don’t go into a diatribe about his extensive disregard for my friendship; it’s exhausting. It creates weirdness. It leaves both of us very upset. Instead, I curl my fingers, as I did at age 3, and tell him through mock-clenched teeth, “You anger me!” This prompts him to call me crazy, and laugh at my ridiculousness. I laugh too, and then explain what it is exactly that he did to offend me. And when I overreact, my friends tell me, “hey lunatic, you’re overreacting.” I find it very hard not to smile and simmer down after that.
At the end of the day, I want to be disgustingly happy. I want to smile and shed tears of joy at the drop of a pin, without fear of being ridiculed, underestimated, misunderstood, or whatever else. I want to be a source of positivity for others. It doesn’t mean I’m reaching for people-pleaser status – I don’t think that’s possible for me, actually. I’m simply looking to remain honest yet respectful of my surroundings. I strongly believe that in most cases, anger is a shield for my ignorance or insecurity. I prefer to make note of my reaction and ask “why.” Why does X all of a sudden anger me? More often than not, it’s due to my own shortcomings. And that, friends, is how lessons are learned. I’m not perfect, and I don’t operate this way all of time. But I try, and I find myself happier each day, I know I’m succeeding.
Except when I’m in the car. There is no excuse for your fuckery, and I will make it known loud and clear. And if you’re not elderly, with child, or driving one, the finger I display as far out my window as I possibly can, will deliver the message.