In the past I've written on this blog, about how difficult it has been for me to deal with other people's anger. I'm noticing that this is changing for me. Today I had a phone call from someone who was very upset about something that happened at a meeting we both attended last night. I was perfectly willing to discuss it with her, until her voice began to rise, as she became increasingly angry at what she saw as me refusing to give to her, a piece of information she was wanting.
Several times I explained that I couldn't give the information, because I didn't have it. Her voice got louder as the call progressed, until finally, I said I wasn't going to continue the conversation because she was raising her voice. There was one final explosion of rage, and the phone was slammed down at the other end.
As near as eight months ago, I would have felt disturbed and distressed by that phone call. I'd have struggled to not take on the guilt that was being handed to me, and somehow, I'd have felt responsible. Today, I could feel compassion for her upset feelings,without sacrificing my own excellent mood.
I realised later that this level of detachment was possible for me, only because finally I've been able to see clearly that her anger was not only not my fault, it was truly irrelevant to my life. I don't mean that rudely, I mean that it had absolutely nothing to do with me. In that past, if someone were to become angry with me, I would immediately feel that I was to blame for their anger. Some small part of me would feel that they wouldn't be angry had I not done something to "make" them angry. Through leaving my marriage, and working a fourth step with my new sponsor, I have been able to understand what an old, old message that was for me: "I wouldn't be raging/hitting you/ranting, if you didn't deserve it."
With that realisation has come the understanding that for some people, a calm response causes them to react with fury, and they will try to coerce me with their anger, to give them what they want. That's what happened today. I could see it as it happened, and I could remain completely, calmly detached from it.
There are going to be people who don't have good control over their emotions. I don't have to take it on if someone uses anger to try to control me - I didn't cause it, I can't control it, and I can't cure it.