When I'm feeling mean, I want everyone to know it. I mutter ugly somethings; I stalk by people with sideways glares; I give flat single syllable responses to well intended questions. Sometimes I even imagine myself starting small trash fires with my eyes.
I'd started this way last night after a some bad news and my ill mood continued well into today. I went to bed angry and tried to avoid the kids this morning. I got up early to leave the house before anyone was up. But this was not meant to be.
"Daddy, I want some breakfast," I heard my daughter's voice from behind me as I was gathering my things this morning.
"Arrrrgggghhhh!!!!" my internal Charlie Brown sounded a silent scream as if the infamous kite eating tree had gotten the best of him again. I let my shoulders drop in defeat and skulked off to the kitchen to prepare a bowl of cereal and a glass of water for the kid.
She was well behaved and gave no trouble. It was a mercy. I got her little brother when he woke as well before rousing my wife. She takes the late shift as a rule, and I don't like to wake her until its necessary.
It was another hour before I got out of the house.
"It's not their fault," my wife said, trying to talk me off the edge that I was teetering on before I left.
She was defending the the hematologist office that had performed tests on my son two weeks ago. They informed us yesterday that they had not been able to get definitive results on some of the crucial tests for my son's blood. They wanted another go to confirm things were normal; they wanted my wife to give blood as well.
"Please don't get angry on the phone with them... it won't help," she'd pleaded, knowing that I'm perfectly capable of letting people know when I'm not happy.
"They botched it," I said in response and stalked away and out into my day. It sounded to me like they'd messed something up and were trying to cover their tracks.
It may not be a fair statement about the doctor's office - that they did not get a proper blood draw on my son or that they had run the tests incorrectly - but I wasn't feeling fair. I was angry. That initial visit had been very stressful for us and incredibly uncomfortable for my son. They were asking for an instant replay - a do over. I was beside myself.
I felt all the more enraged, because our choices were limited to either returning as they had requested or pursuing the test with another office. Either way it was (and is) lousy for us all. I felt helpless. I still feel a little of that now, but it's passing.
I did not call that office. I was busy (luckily) and the events of the day distracted me enough to keep my thoughts from running to the dark side.
Somewhere over the course of the day I went from steaming mad to just a simmer. My thoughts of confronting the doctor on the phone or in person subsided and gave way to thoughts of finding another provider.
"Just go somewhere else," a co-worker said to me over lunch, "if it makes you that angry, just don't go back."
She's probably right. It makes sense. We're not powerless and we don't have to return to people we don't like. I know this.
But even now I feel sudden flickers of anger like the occasional pop of sparks from an otherwise dying fire. I feel a little dangerous still.
I'm sitting in my daughter's room now. Hoping that she'll drop off to sleep soon. I have to go down and tidy the house a bit and get ready for the morning. I'm writing to cool my nerves a little.
I don't like days like today but I suppose they're inevitable. Part of me wishes I could handle them with more grace. I'd especially like not to spill any of this over onto my family. I feel like a tea pot that's been left on the fire too long and is now hissing and spitting hot steam and boiling water; unsafe for anyone to handle without gloves.
But I guess also that the children will have days like this themselves. Maybe it's better that they see me glowering at the world now and again - understand that it's normal. I don't know. Hindsight is not a hallmark of an angry day.
I hope when I wake tomorrow this will all seem like a bad dream and my heart will be ready to feel good feelings again. I hope I can find a reason - in time - not to be angry with the doctor. I know we're likely to need them. I hope... I suppose that's a good sign in itself.
See you tomorrow.