Bill Chapter 12

Agitation- A state of anxiety or nervous excitement.  

Irritability- The state of being moody, grumpy or touchy. 

Egocentrism- Thinking only of oneself without regard to the feelings of others.

I am a gregarious guy.  I can talk to anyone, strangers, friends, whoever.  I have no problem in a crowd of people joining in the group. Lately, however, this gift of gab has been an irritation to me. It is getting in the way of what I need to do. Let me explain.

People always stop me and talk to me. When I am trying to get from one place to another for business, or for some appointment, I get stopped.  People just talk and spill their whole life story to me. Usually that isn’t too much of an issue, but when I am under stress or time pressure this makes me angry. Of course, the people don’t know it.  I stand and smile and listen, but afterwards I am behind schedule and I blame them.  It isn’t right, I know, but it gets in the way of what I am trying to do.

 I have never felt this anger before.  When I am more stressed, like when I was caring for my elderly father before he died,  I found talking to others didn’t mean a damn thing to me.  It got in the way of my business and what I needed to do.  The best skills I have ever had, like being able to converse about anything, have never meant success.  I feel guilty, embarrassed, and sad about that. I am sick of it. I resent having any gift that doesn’t get me where I want to be. All the stuff I am good at doesn’t create the results I need. I can’t get there based on what our society says success looks like. This is very disturbing internally to me.

When I am trying to get feelings from internal to external, it pulls me down unless I have a reaction from someone else. I need input to figure out if what I am saying is accurate.  I am fearful that I am saying things that will be confusing to others or misunderstood. I fear they don’t know what I am saying or what it means to me.  I want it to cause others to feel what I feel, but they don’t and it frustrates me.

 I try to make people see things my way, because my way feels like the right way.  I don’t mean that in a self-righteous way.  I am not better than others, I just think the way I think through things is the most efficient way. But the discovery has to come from inside themselves, their own views, everyone sees the world differently. I have to learn to let people think other ways than I do. I think others see the world  the same as me and that is not true.

My thoughts go like this,  “If I were them I would never do that.  I wouldn’t cut someone off in traffic.  I would be more considerate.” I am expecting them to have the same reactions as I do, but they don’t.  In an introspective moment, I can see it clearly, but it doesn’t help me when I am just going through life day to day. Ultimately, if I am honest I take their actions personally. Why would they do that to  me?  In actuality they may not even know I am there, in traffic for example. Somehow, my reaction to the actions of others revolves around me.  I am emotionally egocentric. I know it is not really about me but it feels as if it is.

This egocentrism applies to TV watching, listening to music, and as always, driving.  I constantly am correcting others, mainly Michelle, on how to drive, what to watch or listen to. It is easier for her to just comply rather than to try to watch or listen to what she wants. This is because I get agitated when I am not getting what I want. I cannot seem to help this. It is frustrating because it feels like I am a spoiled child much of the time. 

The agitation looks like pacing. Or irritability. Snapping at people. The frustration usually doesn’t come out at strangers or people I am talking to, but at those I know. In the hospital, Michelle tells me I would be nice and kind and hold it together when I had visitors. But once they were gone I would explode and be wildly aggressive towards her, to the point she had to ask others to stop coming to see me. I guess my brain was still being polite and the effort required to do that drained me of any control once they were gone. 

It is similar now. Maybe not as extreme, in that I have learned how not to explode, but the feeling is the same inside when I am agitated. Sometimes I don’t even know I am. When I am stressed about something, I start to feel it internally. I get snippy, and I feel anxious. I might pace for no reason. I just cannot get settled inside. Again, I can’t see this, but my wife can. She sees the anger build and the frustration over whatever is eating at me, start to bubble up. She can try to head it off, or she can remove herself from the situation. Sometimes we go for a hike or a drive through the mountains. That can relieve the agitation before it gets out of control. I hate all of this pressure I cause everywhere we go. She lives her life walking on eggshells and I live mine in the dark.

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