On most days I take great pride in my anger management skills, and this has been essential to my survival and social quotient these past 50+ years. Every once in a while, however, I wish I were not so damned polite or so deeply rooted in my Asian values. Just to backtrack a bit here: I inherited my mother´s temper, which is very much a quick rapid-fire type, explosive, but then subsides fast. But my father would not have his only daughter exploding in front of other people, and since I was to be raised as the classic “sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice” type of girl, from the age of three onwards, I was no longer allowed two things: to cry and to get angry. To this day I have yet to be able to have a complete hysterical breakdown and indulge in a good soul-cleansing cry. Oh, that is another thing I never learned – hysterics! I envy people who can cry and howl, and find it so liberating. My way is so painful and I end up keeping things bottled up in an unhealthy manner. Taekwondo and meditation didn´t help, trust me.
The inability to have a temper tantrum is also something I regret, especially when I learned some years back that I am not skilled enough to have a down and dirty fight with someone. Someone once told me that it is healthy for couples to have huge fights where cups and saucers fly across the room. At the time I found this utter bullshit, but while discussing it in therapy, I think a lot of things might have been saved if I could have done that. Then again, at least I can be proud of the fact that I have never thrown a cup or a saucer at anyone! These civilised discussions and intellectual exchanges are a pain and a waste of time sometimes, although I must admit they do prevent me from saying a lot of things that I would later regret. In any case, these past days have pushed me to my tolerance levels.
When dealing and living with someone else´s mental health issues, there is always that dilemma on how to handle the situation when your own patience runs out, love decided to take a walk in the park for the next few hours, and the calm and serene exterior has taken a serious nosedive, the diva exterior shattering into smithereens. How much can I blow up and have my own meltdown when I have reached the end of my tether, knowing full well that if I do that, I will trigger an anxiety attack or another meltdown. So I have been holding back to the best of my ability. But my reserves are running on empty.
Then there are the all extraneous circumstances that affect my moods these days, starting with these blasted face masks. Being a commuter on Berlin´s public transportation, I am paranoid about who is wearing a mask, who is wearing it properly, and very conscious about all the COVIDIOTS out there who can´t seem to figure out how the devil to wear a mask properly. People, the mask goes over nose AND mouth, not just over the mouth, or not just over the nose (I pause to roll my eyes). Then there are those who seem to think that small children and toddlers in strollers are exempt from wearing a mask. How often have I beein sitting in the subway watching in horror as a family gets on, all wearing masks except the children. If it is perfectly acceptable to shout at someone to wear a mask these days, or to demand that someone stand further apart from you in the train, do we not also have the right to be angry when others choose to be careless and insensitive?
Our society has changed 360 degrees in the past seven months, and a keen awareness of our personal safety and also our responsibility towards others has reached unprecedented levels. Wearing a mask is no longer just about keeping yourself safe, but also keeping the others around you safe as well. I am amazed at the number of people who refuse to accept this. I wear a mask to keep the virus away from me, but also to make sure that I don´t inadvertently pass it on. So yes, I demand the right to be safe from COVID-19, and I sure as hell reserve every right to freaking flip out when someone chooses to ignore this.