Biddie Morgan ain't nicknamed "Spitfire." But it do fit her.
When her 20 somethin' stepdaughter came to take up residence on the way to "findin' her passion in life" (thas' gen Y speak fer "lookin' fer a pretend job but ain't found one yet") sparks flew. Biddie could choke back her ire jes' so long. Thangs erupted into fireworks an' her baby brother, well meanin' but ill advised said, "Aw, now Biddie, ya gotta roll wif' thangs sometimes. Why'nt ya' go git some counseling? I heered of how folks is goin' in fer anger management counseling."
After the ambulance left wif' Biddie's brother on a stretcher, the stepdaughter babbled somethin' about the joys of taggin' turtles on Galapagos an took immediate flight.
Biddie surveyed the territory a few days afterward an' allowed as how mebbe it would'na hurt to see that handsome new psychologist that her canasta partner done raved about. "He coached me so good, Biddie, that I wuz calm even after Howard run my new tractor in the duck pond. If he'd done that last year, ya know I woulda driven his Harley in the lake fer spite."
"I'd seen that psychological man at the Harper's picnic," Biddie told me when she come by fer a visit. "He looked smug to me, an ya' know somethin' Belle? I thought right then an' thar' that nuthin' that young sloe-eyed man could say would hep the situation we wuz havin' at home. How could he? He ain't never had Princess Slob-ette fer a stepdaughter."
"But Biddie," I as't, "Why'd ya go see him in the first place?"
"Cause I promised kid brother that while he was in rehab, I'd see the mess-with-yore-haid. Rash promise, but, thar it be. Anyhoo, I had fun wif' it."
I squinted mah eyes at her. "Biddyyyyyyyyy?"
"I did EGGzactly what the man told me to do, thas' all. He said anger was manageable when one kept in mind that we cain't control other folks. All we can control is our ownselves."
I'se still squintin', "Uh-huh....?"
"An we control our emotions by controllin' our responses."
"An so I oughta practice soothing diversions as mah response to situations that upset me, like remindin' Princess Slobatha how lovely she looks an' doan she wanna have an equally lovely setting fer her Highness' lovliness?"
"I told him, 'CRIPE NO! I doan care if Her Slovenliness upchucks all over OWN dominion, jes' not over MAH dominion."
"That wuz week one, then last week I'se supposed to practice acceptance of thangs as they are not as I want them to be. I shoulda accepted Slobalou's imperfection an' stop demandin' perfection from people who are jes' regular princesses, doan'cha know? See? It's mah own expectation of perfection that was the cause of mah anger; it warn't The Royal Slobodovich's elephant dung encrusted Birkenstocks tramping over mah Grandmama's Persian carpet, cause that jes' ain't no reason fer anger."
Y'all, I'se chewin' the inside of mah cheeks, tryin' not to bust out hee-hawin'.
"Oh I have learnt so much these past few weeks, Belle. It ain't the personal foibles of others thas' the cause of mah anger. It is mah failure to actualize reality, mah insistence on the fantasy of perfection in ever'body but mah ownself. I sets mahself up fer disappointment. It is the critical people like me thas' at fault. Critical people are angry people. Next time I feels anger risin' Dr. Psych advised I take some time out, get some exercise like jumpin' rope, an thinking about mah own shortcomin's afore I let thangs build up too far. It might help to talk to myself, like, 'take it easy , take it easy'. Oh, an' be sure to practice deep breathin'. An', I'se to write thangs down instead of reactin' immediately. Mebbe even get somethin' to do that comforts me when I'se overwhelmed, like one of those squeezy balls. Jes' squeeze the hoo-hoo outa that ball but keep mah words soft. "
I'se laughin' in mah sleeve, "Is that what he really said, Biddy?"
"You bet yore sweet bippy, he said that. An' more."
"Oh no," I groaned. "Mercy be, I'se glad I warn't in his shoes."
"You mean his office."
"Biddy Morgan, what have ya done??"
"Helped sloe-eyed psych man practice what he preached, thas' all."
" I kept the third appointment. I went right in an sat on his new pale blue sofa, got all comfy an' calm on it, then politely admired his mama's hooked rug. But when I took the What-a Burger outa the paper sack he seemed sorta nervous. 'Ms. Morgan, what is that in the foil there?' "
"Foil? Oh. Well, Doc, I'se been rushin' heah and theah and ever'where an' they ain't been no time fer lunch. Want a bite of this What-a Burger?"
"MS. MORgan. Really. We do not eat in this office."
"Oh thas' ok Doc, ya doan need to have none, then it won't be 'we,' only 'me'."
"I am sorry, Ms. Morgan, I can't allow....what, no! WHAT are you doing? Mam? Stop, What are you DOING?"
"Well, ya said to try squeezin' somethin' if I got agitated, an youse soundin' so critical that I IS agitated, so I'se squeezin' these mustard and ketchup packages, oh dear!! I'se sorry....oh, that mustard all over yore pale blue sofa, lemme git that off...oh it smeared...oh dear, now I done dropped the Ketchup..."
"MS MORGAN! For the love of ...no! STOP! I said STOP! You're stepping on the ketchup pack!"
"Well, ya made me nervous, criticizin' me. Ain't ya s'pose to accept me? Now Doc, they ain't no cause fer yore anger. Stay calm...try to control yore response...jes' say to yoreself, 'take it easy,' then ya can speak softly an try to find yore inner calm. No? Well, what wuz the lesson fer week two? Oh yeah! Remember that yore insistence on perfection is the root of yore anger. Ain't that it? We gotta git ya to actualize some reality here: I ain't perfect, an' it's jes' a teeny foible of mine to eat in professional offices when I'se rushed an must keep appointments.....rules? well, sure, but--oh gracious! Did I do that? That ketchup footprint on yore heirloom rug? Wuz it already there? no? Oh lemme say right now how sorry I is. Ya know I din't mean to... here now, oh youse red in the face--try to breathe, Doc. Doan let yore fantasy of perfection make ya' angry wif' me. Wait! Here's a pen, jes' write down yore feelin's afore ya' yell at me again. Oh! Thas' good--youse jumping up an down fer exercise? Why look at that! Youse found an appropriate outlet for yore feelin's, Doc. Good for you! Youse somethin' else Doc Sloe-eyes. OOOPs! Watch out fer that mustard pack by yore left foot. "