|Sometimes, I'm just a little too intense for my own good.|
In case you aren't familiar with this particular dynamic, Vulcans like Spock achieve mastery over their emotions so that they really don't display emotions. Klingons, the guys with the ridged foreheads and long black hair and angry demeanor are intense. Like on a scale of one to ten, they're a fifteen. Even when they're not angry, they look and SOUND angry.
I've always wished I could be more Vulcan and less Klingon.
Well, because I understand where the Klingons are coming from. People think they're angry even when they're not, and they react in kind. So, a Klingon could say, in their big, booming, enhanced indoor voices, "IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY OUTSIDE!" and the human nearby would not hear the words, but rather the manner in which they were conveyed and perhaps would tell the Klingon to calm the frak down. (Look at that, I threw in Battlestar Galactica, too!)
And guess what effect telling someone to calm the frak down has! IT DOESN'T MAKE THEM CALM THE FRAK DOWN AT ALL, DOES IT?! No! It does not! In fact, it probably lights a fire in them. And after a few minutes of this type of exchange, even though the Klingon wasn't angry before, now it is Game. On. The Birds of Prey would be scrambled and the scimitars would be drawn. And then it's an arms race between the Federation and the Klingons, because the Klingons are so angry and they love war. And maybe they do.
But as someone who skews more toward the Klingon temperament than human or definitely Vulcan, I wonder if the Klingons didn't start out not being such a war and killing enthusiasts. Maybe they were just intense, and after thousands of star-years of their intensity being read as HOSTILE!!! they just got sick of it and said "okay, FINE, we're HOSTILE!!!" and it was off to the arms races.
I think that's how I got to where I am today. Growing up, I could go from being excited or agitated about something else to having a full-on tantrum in moments. It would start by me having a bad day at school, or being upset because I got a bad grade (for those keeping track at home, this was anything below a 92) or falling out with a friend, and coming home and telling about it. I'm not really big on using a well-modulated voice when emotional as an adult, let alone when I was a kid. So the message of what I was saying would get lost in the manner in which it was delivered (pertineer yelling), and I'd get called out for being sassy or angry or basically intense, and a tantrum would ensue, and I'd get the fly-swatter (I grew up in the 80s- we all had our asses whooped by fly swatters, belts, and willow switches), get sent to my room, and would enjoy an earlier bedtime for the next week or two.
As an aside, I got sent to bed early so much as a kid that by the time I was in high school, I'd just take myself to bed by 9PM on school nights and most weekends. Whatever.
Since I was little more than a kid when I met my husband, and he was only two and a half years ahead of me on the way out of being a kid, he definitely saw this dynamic I had going on at home. I'd be intense, the intense tone of my voice would shout out the message of what I was trying to communicate to the point that an argument over my demeanor would ensue, the message would be lost, and I'd be punished and sent off to lick my wounds in the quiet of my own room without anything about my original message being addressed.
If you think that dynamic didn't carry over to our relationship and our home, even after we both were adults, you'd be wrong. Except I don't get the flyswatter or that kind of thing when my Klingon-esque ass is "intense" around my Vulcan, Spock-like husband. Hell no. If he ever would have tried to pull that shit on me, I would have ended up kicking him through an othertruckin' wall. I'm little but Rage makes me stronger, as the cool kids say.
No. What happens instead is that he hears the intensity in my voice rather than the message of my words, and he shuts the efffffff down. Which naturally incites and inflames me. Our therapist says this is stonewalling, and that he's really, really good at it. I think he comes from a long line of champion stonewallers.
So roll my original emotion from whatever got me in an intense state to begin with into the anger and inflammation kicked up by the stonewalling, and I look like Donald Duck when he gets good and mad, while the husband sits there, cool and composed in his chair, dismissively uttering "Go ahead. Keep it up," and just stonewalling the fluck out of the situation until I reach critical mass exasperation and storm out, slamming every door I walk past.
And now I'm mad, and he's mad- I guess, because I was yelling at him. And still, I never did get to be heard around whatever it was that stirred up the intense emotions in me to begin with.
Figure in 20 years of this same pattern, and I've gotten, rightly or wrongly, so that I really don't expect anybody to hear me when something sets off a strong emotion. Because after all, I'm too sensitive. I let things get to me too easy. The message of my words gets drowned out by the tone of my voice, so I just ruminate on the issues myself. And pardon the Anglo-Saxon derivative here, but this is a fucking lonely way to live. It makes a broad feel utterly unheard and totally unsupported.
Also, without a sounding board, the same issues swirl around in my head for YEARS, which frustrates the husband. "We've already talked about this hundreds of times!" he'll exasperatedly say, throwing up his hands and ending the conversation. "Unless you have anything new to tell me, I've heard it all! Enough!"
Yeah, well... he heard, but he never listened. He never offered insight. He'd get hung up on my manner instead of listening to my message. I was the aggressor and the problem, and all he was trying to do is live a peaceful life.
I've been working with a therapist for months now, and the thing I have consistently begged for is a way to be less intense, less quick to anger, less quick to let my voice raise. My fondest dream in the world is to be calm, cool, collected, not at all intense, able to just shut down any emotion. Aloof like a Vulcan. I feel like if I were more peaceful and serene, the way I interact with my husband and my family would be more peaceful and serene, instead of me feeling like I was mailed to the wrong address and have kept winding up at wrong addresses my whole life.
Since anger is really a secondary emotion, I can't help but wonder if all along the Klingons have been misunderstood and lonely, and sad because they're misunderstood and lonely. And maybe they kind of hate themselves because none of the other people in the universe really get them. They all just want to make the Klingons the common enemy to work together fighting. And the lonely and misunderstood and sorrow combine with their general propensity toward INTENSITY!!!! and it just comes off as angry.
If that's the Klingon experience, then I guess I get it, 100%. And I'm wondering how I can master myself into being composed like a Vulcan, or maybe if I'd be better served saying screw it all and developing a taste for blood wine for when the Klingon Mothership swings by to take me home with them.