Way back when I was a kid, my reactivity served me, the better to avoid a swat.
I could feel it coming and get out of the way. Back then we thought of it as “reaction time.”
Some skills I honed in childhood no longer serve me; my reactivity is probably chief among them.
To be complete with it, one of the things I have to do is to break the whole lightning-quick sequence down to see what it is I’m dealing with.
Well, it isn’t just the reactive sequence itself, from trigger to explosive activity, that’s at play here. There’s also the constant vigilance between episodes of reactivity. My wife called it my “scared-wolf” look.
That’s the Marcel Marceau effect, isn’t it? Marcel the mime put on mask after mask, until one mask stuck. He could never get it off. This is that mask.
I can’t get it off my face now.
So there’s vigilance – reaction – vigilance – reaction, a simple two-step dance. Nothing elegant. I could have gone on to join the military and perfected my skills for sanctioned ends. One, two, one, two.
Instead I chose to find out what happened to me that explains the degree of anger I experience. The last fifty years have been spent unravelling the skein of wool, picking up sticks, fitting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Now we’re down to having found the smoking gun and taking the gun itself apart. (I know nothing about guns. Bear with me.) What does the trigger look like? The firing mechanism? The warning mechanism? The holster? The draw?
Bring it all out into the light of awareness and then let the dissolutive impact of awareness do the rest. This too shall pass – when brought out into the light of awareness.
The trigger is the perception of attack, clear intention of attack, or overt suggestion of attack. Any indication of “incoming” will do. It’s entirely a subjective judgment.
The firing mechanism is to blow my stack, lose my temper, make it very uncomfortable for the other person.
The warning mechanism is a suddenly-furrowed brow, like a horse’s ears going back or a wolf snarling.
The holster is a nice-guy front, out to please, pleasant enough, until reactivated.
The draw is so swift, you have no idea what happened. And I set the story of what happened in concrete afterwards so there’s no opening for further allegations and no need for apologies.
Self-righteous. Super-right. Dead-right. Alone.
That’s the scenario, in technicolor. Or whatever technicolor passes for these days.
The formula for ending up alone.
OK. I got it. I got the script. I got the steps in the process. I got the mindset, the attitude, the feeling state.
Awareness will do the rest.