Monday, July 03, 2006

Anger Management

Over the course of about two years, I spent a small fortunte on cognitive behavioural therapy. That's just a fancy way to say I saw a shrink. And I should really say that I invested that money, since I'm definitely a happier, more balanced, more resourceful person since then.

One of the (many) issues I had to work on was anger. For various complicated reasons, I was terrified of anger. As a result, I didn't get angry. Great solution, right? Wrong. Just because you don't express or feel your anger doesn't mean you're not angry. it just means you're saving it up for a later date.

Imagine my surprise when I learned I was angry. Really, incredibly, deeply angry. Poor Peter had to live with Anger Girl for a few months while I processed all the old anger and developed coping mechanisms for dealing with anger properly in the future.
Now I can admit that I do get angry. That goes a long way to handling the anger. Feel it. Express it appropriately. Figure out the root cause and find a solution. These are all handling mechanisms that I use now.

Yesterday, we had an away camogie match. I started for the first time in a few matches, this time at left full-forward. I was stomach-churningly nervous and the first time the ball came my way, I totally screwed up, which did nothing for my nerves.

There was a lot of action down at my end of the pitch for the first 10-15 minutes of the match. The girl marking me was tough - bigger than me and given to pushing and throwing elbows and hips. We had a couple of scraps over the ball and I came out the worse in all of them.

In our third encounter, she sent me flying backwards. I landed with a thud about two or three feet from where I lifted off. My head banged off the pitch and I saw stars. Then, I was angy. Very, very angry.

When I peeled myself off the ground and got back into the action, my anger focused me. I wasn't nervous anymore. I wasn't worried about screwing up. All I wanted to do was get that ball into the net.

You might think that my anger made me want to kick that girl's ass. You'd be right, but in the wrong way. I was angry, not suicidal. I wanted to beat her figuratively rather than literally. I had to use my anger wisely, focus it in the right way, and play to my strengths. I wasn't going to be able to push her off the ball or knock her over. But I was a lot faster. I could beat her to the ball. I could run in front of her to block her from getting to my teammates. I could run in on the goalie she was meant to be defending.

So I did all of these things and I played my best match ever. This isn't to say that I didn't make mistakes, because I did. But I didn't fixate on them. All my energy went into playing, not into worrying or second-guessing myself. I was able to lift the ball twice and run with it. I had several good passes. I even score a goal.

Except it didn't count. The goal line was very sandy and although the ball did cross the line, the ref didn't see it. The ball didn't travel that far over the line, so it was easy for the goalie to nudge it forward and claim that it hadn't gone over.

More anger for me to use, although now I have to be careful not to become bitter over the non-goal goal. In the end, our team won 4-4 to 0-0 (16 points to 0 points). I learned a valuable lesson and proved a few things to myself. Really, you can't ask for more than that on a Sunday afternoon.


At 4 July 2006 at 11:10, Blogger Declan said...

Quite a good victory. Well done :-)

At 5 July 2006 at 14:18, Blogger Fence said...

4-4 to 0! Well done. Hard luck on the non-goal, but at least it wasn't needed.

At 5 July 2006 at 15:03, Blogger John of Dublin said...

Good blog. When you got knocked down and described getting angry...for a moment I had an uneasy vision of you turning green, growing to 6ft.5 inches after uttering something like..."Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry!"

(I used to love the Incredible Hulk on TV!)

But yes you are right - properly focussed anger can be helpful and inspires confidence.

At 5 July 2006 at 17:32, Blogger -Ann said...

Thanks. :) Unfortunately, our last match was brutal and I played like absolute shite. On the plus side, I've found a couple of teammates who are going to teach me some basic skills. That will help a lot. I've got piles of enthusiasm but no basics.

John - I loved the Hulk too. On TV. The movie was a disappointment.

At 6 July 2006 at 11:43, Blogger Fence said...

Well I have no enthusiasim and no skills, so you are better off than me :)

Course I do have enthusiasim for watching the game, and wouldn't mind being able to play. But actually putting the effort in, I'm tired just thinking about it.

At 10 July 2006 at 18:03, Blogger -Ann said...

Fence - Don't sell yourself short. Being part of the lucht feachana is an important job. (I'm missing a fada somewhere, amen't I?)


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