Burnout recovery tip 7: Get angry at Jeff

This post was written by Megan on October 19, 2010
Posted Under: burnout and recovery

Anger for Burnout Recovery cartoon

Jeff is… 

…my ultimate love app 

…the CEO of my heart's SEO

…the mojo in my tutti frutti


With that said, Jeff does piss me off from time to time. Thankfully, the feeling is mutual.


But before we go too far…

I do understand that 'Get angry at Jeff' as a burnout recovery tip might be tricky for some to apply. Particularly if you don't have your own Jeff. But read on and you are likely to discover something in this story that you can use – even if it's finding comfort knowing that you are no way near as loopy as me.


Prior to burnout, I had a hidden demon

A dark, grotesque 'spirit within' that toyed with my nerves like a Playstation console. The name of this demon was not 'anger'. Nor was it wrath, or greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy or even gluttony. Those things were just part of my day-to-day personality. 

No, my demon was the 'good girl syndrome'.

For those who have this but without a double x chromosome, another term is 'Let's-not-rock-the-boat syndrome'.  


I wasn't always a boat-steadier

Just because I wrestled with good girl syndrome doesn't mean the syndrome always won. 

Maybe it's being a creative personality (a nice term for 'a natural tripper'). 
Or being a Scorpio ('Passion without purpose' is our slogan).
Or it could just be that I'm a loud mouth…


But getting angry was not my natural schtick

Is it about upbringing? If you grow up with a dog, you are more likely to own a dog as an adult. So if you grow up with a family who throw plates at each other across the lounge room on a semi-regular basis, then perhaps a plate hurtling at you as a adult is no big deal. Comforting, even.

Some families are great are getting angry at one another and then, five minutes later, they're all making popcorn. I have watched these people in awe, as if discovering a lost Inca civilization hidden in a South American valley.


My family is very different.

We don't get angry. We carefully cling wrap our anger and pop it in the freezer – along with all of those other cryogenically-preserved would-be arguments. We then take a breath, check our hair and move on to something more pleasant.

This approach can work well, but not always. It's a case-by-case thing.


And that's my other problem

Prior to burnout, I often couldn't decide what was black and what was white. The pros and cons were constantly being weighed. Which is another good tactic for avoiding anger: obsessive consideration. 


Early in our relationship, Jeff noticed all this…

…and decided it was his duty to push me to the point of hysteria. He ripped the clingwrap from out of my hands and filled the freezer with organic meat. There was no room for stored frustrations.

Jeff could define black and white faster than I could. This gave him the upper hand. My other disadvantage was, of course, having chronic fatigue syndrome. I could barely get out of bed. Therefore, conducting an argument seemed out of the question. It required too much effort, particularly as my 'argument muscles' were already somewhat flabby.


Jeff ignored all of my rational explanations and went to town

I mean 'went to town' both literally and metaphorically. He broke up with me and left for busier places. Places where people had fully-functioning adrenal glands and were prepared to thump the table for their beliefs. He left me a lot – but he always came back.

When around, Jeff might accuse me of things so unjustified (in my mind) that he began to look like an alien (no, not the nice white, glowing aliens with those cute pointy eyes – the green, oozy ones). Foreign terms like 'irresponsible' and 'bad at ironing shirts' were flung before me willy-nilly.

'Does he not know who I am???' I would ask myself in catatonic stupor.  


The tipping point

Jeff was working crazy-long hours, often six days a week. And renovating on the seventh. It was insane and we both knew it. But when he accused me of expecting him to work even harder, I snapped. Actually, I laughed. Not the the usual chuckle but an old woman-with-thirty-cats shriek. And I couldn't stop the shrieking, even while simultaneously trying to explain rationally why I would never demand that of him.


Then I stopped explaining and gave into the hysteria.

Meanwhile my partner was laughing at me. He actually found my hysteria amusing. Fortunately for Jeff, his was a sane laugh that no one would lock him up for. But then I stopped shrieking and got angry. Angrier than I had ever been in my whole life. The kind of anger that is low-level, completely controlled and finely targeted. And I gave it to him with both barrels. This barrelling performance involved following Jeff out to the car (the usual escape vehicle) but he never made it to the door.


There was calm after my storm

Strangely…after the anger was over…it became easier to breathe. For both of us. Jeff turned away from the car and drew me in for a hug. He realised he had achieved his aim. He had got me angry and cleared the air once and for all. A new brand of oxygen had come into our lives.


Then what?

I certainly felt lighter from the experience, so that's got to be a step in the right direction for recovery, right?

Now Jeff and I have less arguments and more discussions. But every once in awhile, one of us might get angry. And that's okay because through the anger we often lever some important information that may not come out any other way.

And we know the anger will pass in time, moving onto another couple who might need it more than us.


This is the seventh post from my series: '13 things towards recovery from burnout'.

And the premise remains the same: what works for me might not work for you.  Please don't mistake these posts for advice per se…

This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer and cartoonist who likes the word 'miffed'.  Find out more about Megan

Reader Comments

You both must be very wise – not many couples could do that but I see how it worked for you! And could work for other couples, friends and bosom buddies.

One of my friends in college said I needed a 'license to bitch' for my own good-girl-syndrome. So I drew one in my journal and I have it to this day!

Written By Sandy on October 19th, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

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