Bear with me (if you’ll pardon the pun!) One of my daughter’s teddies fell out of bed yesterday morning and set off his inner melody, singing some unrecognisable but cute ditty. Anyway, this teddy must have fallen awkwardly onto his foot (where the music mechanism is activated) and the singing just wouldn’t stop. He was still singing after breakfast… after we got dressed and brushed our teeth… after I’d come home after dropping her off at school. The singing turned into whining, but I couldn’t bare the thought of waiting all day for his batteries to run out, so I squeezed his foot every which way until, finally, he stopped.
I thought nothing more of it until yesterday evening when, in an encounter group on my course, the sound of a woman’s voice in the group droned on and on, without direction or focus, without defined intonation or shape. It was like stream of consciousness on repeat cycle, with no room for a comma – or, please, a full stop – to bring this woman’s ramblings to an end.
And so, taking a deep breath, and not wanting to relive the agony of that morning’s teddy-bear’s noise, I told her I felt irritated. My hands were sweaty, my body vibrated with the bravery of what I’d just said; brave, because I feared a backlash (and dozens more minutes of pointless and narcissistic ramblings). And yet this woman took what I said with dignity, and the mere expression of my irritation pressed her ‘off’ switch.
Handling my anger nobly and directly? That’s a first. And I’ve got an annoying little teddy to thank for that.