I was at Physical Therapy today and my PT had an episode of “Frasier” on. I was reading a book but at one point I looked up and paused. I’m so grateful I did. Frasier was angry and he yelled, “MY OUTRAGE IS COMPLETELY MERITED.” I burst out laughing. Something about the combination of the yelling and the fact that these words are so antithetical to how I live, just tickled me completely.
Fifteen years ago I was in couples therapy with someone fifteen years my senior because I was told I needed to work on my anger. Basically, the issue was that I was not expressing it. Well, I was expressing it, but only inwardly.
It’s no small mystery, then, why I was with someone who was somewhat of a “rage-aholic.” Baby steps were never exactly my thing. But I still needed to learn how to say I was angry, get angry, be angry. As Zorba the Greek said, “THE FULL CATASTROPHE!”
In my family, when people were angry, I would either get hit, or abandoned. I remember my mother and step-father SCREAMING at one another one morning, and I remember my mother calling that same evening from Florida. We lived in New York.
So I developed a pattern of skipping over the anger part and moving straight through to forgiveness. It was a clever way of protecting myself from the possible consequences of getting hit or left.
The couples therapy helped.
At first I was extremely rational. Then I was smart and would ask to “table” the conversations until therapy because in dealing with a “rage-aholic,” I needed the safe presence of a professional in my corner. Then, once I had the skill-set and trust in myself, I developed exquisite boundaries around asking for what I needed in order to be heard. And then, I crossed the threshold of expressing real anger in a healthy way that was “completely merited.”
So there I was at Physical Therapy, deeply entrenched in my book, wearing my noise canceling headphones, doing everything possible to keep everyone and everything apart from my inner sanctum. And then I paused. I paused for “Frasier.” Which is quite unusual because my guilty pleasure is “Seinfeld.”
My name is Jill Bacharach and I LOVE “Seinfeld.”
My Beloved is not a big fan of pop culture and I have been a bit nervous that in sharing this part of myself, “Seinfeld” was going to reveal in us a place where there is just no meeting of the minds.
I began thinking about which episodes would be “wise” to share. I even made a list. And then one day the question came up about why I loved “Seinfeld” so much. And my response was a great surprise to me.
“You know what it is? It’s the YELLING!”
I stopped myself in my tracks. Here I was, virtually “traumatized” by anger issues on both ends, at home, and when I went on visits with my father and step-mother. And then I realized... no! No! It was the YELLING in the ONLY HEALTHY relationship I hand borne witness to: in my grandparents.
“Those two couldn’t live without each other. But they drove each other completely NUTS! My grandfather was a complete HOTHEAD.” And then I remembered something so specific about them and I fell over laughing. It was their way together. The way he would move in and the way she would recede. The way he would nearly punch a wall but then go to kiss her. To me, they were just hilarious together.
And I thought of George. And George’s parents, Frank and Estelle. The Costanzas!
And then one night “The Marble Rye” episode just happened to be on and we watched it. And I was laughing to the point of sweating. Not even the least bit concerned about whether or not this would cause any separation between the two of us.
“Oh my god, this is soooooooo you!” was the response I received. “How many times do you think you’ve seen this episode?”
“Oh, at least 30 or 40 times.” I said.
And then the Seinfeld “issue” was a “fete de compli!”
It’s amazing to see how all of this plays out now. From trauma to “rage-aholic” to full-blown tenderness.
Only when you’re ready, do you call forth what you call forth. Good or bad.
I am not practicing asana right now. My body has far too much healing it needs to do before that is even the slightest possibility. But I am calling forth HEALING. That’s a pretty great thing to call forth, I’d say.
For as long as it takes. That’s what I’m going to call forth.
Anyone want to join me?
Today would have been my grandparents’ 71st wedding anniversary. Frieda and Mac, May the love you shared and your memory, "ALWAYS" be for blessing. And if you know the song, "Always," give it a listen.