The Alternative

We once went on a seaside vacation back in the USSR. There were 10 of us sharing a room. And it wasn’t a ballroom. It was half the size of my current bedroom. Or probably even smaller.

But here’s the kicker. Everybody else enjoyed it. People had fun.

Except me. I was pissed. I was incandescent with rage the whole time. Because it’s ridiculous to share a room with nine other people. But more than that, I was angry at the people who enjoyed the vacation. I’m still angry.

I spent the first 22 years of my life choking with anger because nobody else seemed to mind the things I did. And if nobody minds, nothing will change. Every summer, hot water would be off until Fall. I was mad! But everybody else went, “yeah, but that’s how it always is.” I could have bitten their heads off. I never went back but something tells me that the poor buggers are still sitting there, feeling perfectly fine with no hot water in the summer.

And the habit of rushing into the subway car without letting anybody leave first. God, that made me mad. It’s the least productive way to get on a subway car but everybody still did it, every time.

And when we started having electricity shortages, those damn sheep were happily chirping about how much fun it is to just sit and talk in the dark. In winter! In the freezing cold! I wanted to throw heavy objects at these people!

I’m not trying to make any point about the current political situation in the US, by the way. I remembered that vacation because N said that people are only unhappy with things if they have experienced the alternative. But I was extremely unhappy long before I knew there was an alternative.

By the way, is it me or is it true that rage is the only emotion that never fades?

12 thoughts on “The Alternative”

  1. True rage never fades and I suspect that if you listen to yours you can figure out what it is you are ultimately mad at, in some abstract way.

    I know I am in true rage if I actually get visions of throwing heavy objects, or taking up a heavy club to fight the person with — as if fighting for my life. What I find myself thinking or saying in these moments is “I am not your servant!” What it seems to be is, they are demanding, and trying to manipulate or strongarm me into occupying a position I do not occupy or do not want to, or to BE someone I am not or do not want to be, but they, for some reason, need me to be for reasons having to do with their sense of self. So it becomes my being vs. theirs.

    It’s super-rage against not getting to be considered a person. When I was a child there were all these liberation movements and I loved their slogans, would fantasize about my name being in them. Free Z! Right to exist for Z! Front for the liberation of Z Nation!


  2. I don’t know what “true rage” is, I think. But the room and the subway train would make me want to murder everyone. No matter what age I was or am. Do you have misophonia?


  3. Rage is simultaneously the most seductive and least productive emotion. To be any use at all it has to be channeled well away from the source of rage (like moving to a new continent…) Engaging with anyone or anything in a state of rage is about the least productive and most dead end activity imaginable.

    I tend to find rageful individual either boring, hilarious or sad (depending on what it is they’re enraged about and my mood).


      1. “You like me, though, and I’m a very angry person”

        But you channeled that into a useful direction (emigration, education, receiving tenure). Had you just stayed in Ukraine boiling in rage at people and things around you…. well that wouldn’t be very likeable.
        And you’ve worked on dissipating some of your rage: think of your personal evolution about dogs – at one time they inspired irrational and unhealthy rage and now… you just don’t care for them (like many normal people).
        So I don’t think of you as an angry person the way I think of those that just stew in their own anger and randomly lash out at people…


  4. This sounds a lot like me. Even when I was little, I deeply despised having to allow constant intrusion into personal space. I always shared a room (either parents and sister, or just sister and I, always all four on vacation, ridiculous numbers of people whenever we traveled somewhere). Everyone always told me I was unreasonable and cold and unfeeling,because tolerating boundaries constantly being crossed is presumably warm and nurturing or whatever. But even when I was very young I had a sense of boundaries and despised having them violated.

    These days when I travel with family I am super anal about everyone having ample space to sleep; thankfully, I can afford it.

    I often travel to DC for work and always rent a car. My American colleagues always wonder why I don’t take the subway; the reason is that, growing up where I did, I smelled enough armpits for five lifetimes while riding public transport. I will never, ever get on public transport in my life again if I can help it. In fact, I always rent a car when I travel and will drive much farther (rather than fly) than most people because flying is another exercise in far too much interaction with other people.

    Regarding anger: I funnel most of my feelings into rage. Shame, pain, fear –> rage. Rage is what propels me. It’s all over my fiction writing, too. All I write is, at least on some level, revenge fantasies.


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