There were two women shouting and screaming at each other in the street today when I walked to pick up my daughter from nursery. Eyes were bulging, jaws clenched, fingers waving, personal space invaded. It wasn't pretty.
I was on the receiving end of such aggression from my ex mother in law once. I didn't respond with the same aggression. I remember feeling strangely detached, calm and above all, sorry for her. She would not be reasoned with and I think my passivity served to aggravate her anger further. The showdown culminated in her being carried away by her ashen faced husband. She was drooling from the mouth, eyes rolling in her head, incoherent. She was not a mentally stable woman and the outburst was fuelled by alcohol. I will never forget it.
I didn't manage to remain so detached when it came to arguments with my ex husband. He would infuriate me completely to the point that I would shout and scream and I am ashamed to admit, even hit him (although I doubt my blows caused anything resembling actual pain). I hated how it made me feel. So much frustration. So much banging my head against a proverbial brick wall. I hated even more that my children had to witness all this hostility (albeit through walls). I hated the person it made me and how my whole body would shake and the pitch of my voice alter to one I didn't even recognise.
Life is very different for me now. I love my husband deeply and when we have our differences we can work them out through talking and understanding. We both want the same things and we want them together. It makes everything so easy.
Don't get me wrong - I still scream and shout - only now it's with playful exuberance or mock horror at the X Factor! I like it very much better this way.