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Sarah Britten

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Thoughts on screaming with rage

It was the car that did it. Not the Land Rover – the Land Rover hasn’t given any trouble at all, it’s my happy place – but the sensible Korean hatchback. I drive it once a week on Sundays to keep the battery going. Arriving for our usual appointment to take a spin to the local Woolworths up at the Engen garage, I found it was as dead as any notion that COPE could be a viable alternative to the ruling party. Again. Clearly I was going to have to put in a new battery, and this when I want to sell the car.

Suddenly a great glooping lake of magma heaved within the region of my solar plexus and surged up the back of my throat, and I felt the most extraordinarily intense rage. Usually I am quite self-controlled, and I was taken aback by this sudden onslaught of raw feeling. This was rage that was barely controllable. I had to run to find the nearest pillow so that I could smother myself in it and scream.

In situations like these, only screaming will do. Of course, screaming in most cases is hopelessly impractical, and likely to have the neighbours reaching for their ADT panic buttons. So the only way to scream without attracting attention is to use the aforementioned pillow, or do it in the hermetically sealed confines of your car. I do scream while driving, every now and then. Nobody can hear me and I feel just a little better for having scoured my vocal chords with the oral equivalent of steel wool. It’s cathartic.

Screaming as a way to cope with incandescent anger is a relatively new tool for me. As a child, I made a point of not screaming because all the other stupid little girls running around the playground screamed, and I was not like other girls. So for many years I wondered if I was capable of screaming at all, except for the occasional coloratura shriek when stubbing a toe. Later, though, after I got married, I discovered the therapeutic benefits of screaming. My ex-husband would routinely harangue and browbeat and berate me and I would listen mutely to his lectures, boiling beneath the surface, until every now and then I could take no more and screamed. That usually shut him up, at least; he always found it funny.

As my marriage stumbled to its inevitably miserable end, I’d have the kind of screaming matches with my ex that would have been unthinkable once. On the evening on which he told me to move out and go and get the hired car (because he needed the BMW to attract kugels) he shouted at me: “Things are moving along quickly here Sarah”. He meant Yoga Girl, the woman he’d met at yoga and to whom he had transferred his wild-eyed affections. He wanted me out so he could have her in and on our couch, and though I wanted out, the way in which this was all happening, the day after I got back from the Loeries in Cape Town, was too much. So I lay down on the floor, weeping and shrieking and screaming, and I banged my head and my fists on the floor like a toddler caught in the midst of a gale force tantrum. It was the most extraordinary thing for me – in most situations I am so controlled, so mild-mannered, say yes to everything – but at the time it felt utterly natural.

As for that scream into the pillow today, it helped, but I still wanted to throw something or land a punch, so I put on my Skechers Shape-ups and went for a brisk walk down the road, during which I deconstructed my anger (the reasons behind it are ones with which I am only too familiar), rationalized it, and attempted to compose this blog entry in my head. Back at home, sweaty and panting, I changed into the swimming costume I bought from Pick n Pay last year – my heart sinks every time I see myself in it, I abhor public semi-nudity – and had a swim. After splashing about listlessly in 30 degree water under a gorgeous twilight sky I was still in a foul mood, so I had a glass of wine and watched a bit of Carte Blanche (yet another story on a charming Afrikaans conman with victims speaking sadly into the camera from their beautifully lit lounges). The wine was still not enough, so I also took one of the tranquillisers I use to cope with insomnia. It was only after I sploshed some vodka into my Coke Zero that I started to return to a state of relative tranquility.

So the screaming helped, a little. My problem is that for all its therapeutic benefits I can hardly do it in public. My anger will have to be stored away beneath this calm, people-pleasing exterior, and allowed to surface only when I am in my car, or there is a pillow nearby, and the Mentho-lyptus Halls are handy.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    February 14th, 2011 @01:18 #

    Also good: digging holes in garden (preferably with pick-axe); punching-bags; running fast on cracks imagining they're someone's spine.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">tiah</a>
    February 14th, 2011 @17:47 #

    Join me in mixed martial arts - its cheaper than a gym and very therapeutic.


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