You Spot It, You Got It

Harsh Truths from a Therapist’s Therapist

Russ W


Photo by Nick Shandra on Unsplash

I’ll bet there’s someone out there who really grinds your gears.

It could be a micromanaging boss, a judgmental in-law, a one-upping sibling, an over-involved stepfather, a credit-stealing colleague.

You know who it is.

Try as you might to control your reactions — these button pushers activate your defenses and bait you into behaviors you thought you’d outgrown.

For me, the button pushers tend to fall into a few camps. They lack self-awareness, treat others poorly or manipulate to get what they want.

It’s the rude ones. The rage-aholics. The bullies and belittlers. The selfish ones who steamroll over others to claim what’s “rightfully” theirs. The entitled brats who expect life to come in gift wrap. The emotional vampires who suck the caregivers dry.

When I come across these chosen few, my emotions activate and amplify.

I feel a silent, self-righteous fury rise up within me. I yearn to show them the errors of their ways. I flip into avengement mode, desiring to exact retribution for every person they’ve wronged, harmed or manipulated.

I now know how to hit the e-brake before my steam-engine of emotion leaves the station.

When I pan out and widen the frame, I often realize my in-the-moment reactions are not even really about the subject of my ire.

I wasn’t always able to see the wide-angle view.

In the Beginning

I first met my therapist after a grueling five-day alcohol detox at Mt. Sinai hospital in NYC. Weakened from withdrawal, I let him convince me to join his addiction recovery therapy group — no small step for an alcoholic fully invested in dodging feelings and insecurities.

During that first year of recovery, I swirled into my therapist’s office like an F5 tornado. Every Thursday night, I’d charge in with some new disaster.

The issues were typically old and non-disasters, but I’d be in a state of panic all the same.

I’d hijack sessions to vent about tyrannical bosses and abusive clients. I’d complain about pushy…



Russ W

Addiction therapist with an alphabet soup of degrees. Writer. Creative. Human. Hit me up: