There Is One Trigger And Maybe A Dissociation That Seems Unmanageable


I keep finding myself ready to physically attack bad drivers. I seldom get the opportunity, most of the time it is a bad pass and off they go or tailgate me until I find a block and turn off and go around or a nice widespot I can stop and check emails on and they are off to tailgate someone else. Pretty passive and I won't roadrage or chase, just curse and scare the crap out of my dogs or passengers (dogs mostly).

I was a first responder firefighter for a long time, but that has been years. I rode street bikes for a decade when I was young but stopped when I no longer saw bad drivers as a threat to my life but to the lives of the people I loved too. I have seen the results of bad driving many many times. Loaded helicopters and searched for missing body parts with a flashlight. I carry the weight and always will.

People willl think I am a ticking bomb, but I know that I am not going to blow until some hammerhead strikes my primer. Most people I am around would tell you I am a humorous outgoing and generous guy, they wouldn't recognize me when I am laying into a bad driver. Scary thing is I barely do.

I seldom get the chance, like I said it is usually an incident followed by a rapidly increasing distance, and i am good with that (after I calm the labs back down).

But, given a chance I will attack a bad driver with hopes that they will swing on me and I get to pummel them for it.

So far, no one has given me the opportunity. But back into me at a drive-through and I will be loud enough to gather witnesses and attack with obscenities designed purely to bring the response I seek. Just the slightest dumb move followed by accessibility and I go all pugilist on their asses.

I started the whole PTSD therapy journey after an incident 30 years ago when I was willing to take on a pickup truck's worth of morons with nothing but a motorcycle helmet. I would have gotten stomped and I know it but I still was willing to go and they werent.

Yesterday I was cut off by a very aggressive teenage driver in a parking lot and his red rimmed glasses made him an obvious target in the store, I asked him if he had been driving long and offered some advice for remaining alive behind the wheel and his response was a strong offense when he should have been playing defense, poor bastard. I had my witnesses and my participant and i know that I could get the release I crave but as usual it was all over when he saw that I was a big tall willing participant and I looked like an asshole for dressing down a cowering punk with no desire to back up his words.

I know I will feel the part of the asshole down deep for days now. I know I embarrassed myself and was a horrible example for any kids that were around. i know that a felony arrest would change my life forever, and I know that I am an older man and if it became a battle of endurance, i wouldn't even have the strength to retreat. There is a growing chance that I will be stomped and I know I may even be killed- especially these days when I am surrounded by itchy triggers.

But I don't care. It is as if I have chosen my last stand and if I die I will be a martyr for a return to interhuman respect. Some members of this society have no concern for one another when wielding these big metal deadly weapons we drive around in, all snug inside with their false securities.

Like every part of my life, I seek to be in control, at least steering the ship. But this deep dive is happening with more and more regularity, especially now that I am "driving for two" while my wife suffers through a lengthy battle with a hip replacement and infection.

Is my lack of concern for my own safety and a false narrative of doing good work for the society as a whole a holdover from being on scene and choking back anger at people that made the mess I was cleaning up (as a first responder)?

Do I get triggered by what I know is a potentially deadly action but feel unable to act on it so often that when I get an opportunity it is as if I am being guided by my Fight or flight right into what i hope will be the drain of all that pent up fight?

Or am I just an angry old man that has wanted to pummel someone for so long that I am driving around like a bomb that only goes off when worthy participants are close enough to be on the casualty list?

It doesn't matter, i do this often enough to be a danger to myself . When it happens all I am thinking about is catching a punch with witnesses so i can do what comes next. I need to knock this off before someone gets hurt. Bad drivers will all eventually hurt themselves or others or both, it is no longer my job to clean up the mess, and was never my job to try to make them feel survivable pain before they cause the other kind.

I should take the advice I used to dole out when treating actual victims: Celebrate the win, you are alive and have survived a major attack on your life. From here on, you have nothing but care coming your way. The attacker is far away by now (or being cared for over there or dead) and they can't hurt you anymore- you have won a huge conflict, relax and be grateful.

But it is as hard as teaching yourself not to show fear when the shotgun is pointed at your neck. It is going to happen, your fight or flight is going to make you want to fight or crap your pants and I am a fighter and it's game on when the deadly weapon points at me, even a little bit. I am checked out and someone else is driving for a little while.


I’ve gone through a lot of pick a fight phases in my life.
your fight or flight is going to make you want to fight or crap your pants and I am a fighter
^^^This^^^ right here is undoubtedly the best thing to remember… although it often is/gets/becomes waaaaaay more complicated? It’s also often just. that. simple. Fight/Flight kicks on & without somewhere to direct it automagically? Like a scene? It’s going to want to direct itself.

It is NO DIFFERENT than rhe 50,000 -or half a million- posts on here where people are talking about getting scared, or running away from things. Same durn response, that kicks into engage! and anger.

More in a bit… but kicking this up here, to start.


I don't have any useful insights, just wanted to say I can relate to what you're talking about. And I've never BEEN a first responder. (I did spend a couple years working for a big paving company and got to see some incredible stupidity from "the cars" up close, but that's nothing compared to your experience.) It just seems like there are so many ways to ACCIDENTALLY get yourself killed, why do something stupid and avoidable on purpose?

I've thought about it, but I'm not sure I understand why idiot drivers bug me like they do. I'm not really worried that they'll hurt ME, because I'm pretty good at defensive driving. I think it's that some part of my brain feels responsible for keeping the entire universe "safe" whether they appreciate it or not. I keep telling myself "Not my job" but it still feels like my job...... Stay out of jail, ok?


@scout86 thanks, no jail for me. If arrested and cuffed I might actually crap my pants- Quick ticket to the hospital for a change and a psych eval! Get bailed before I even get to the jail part most likely.
I think a facet of the crystalized anger we all feel towards bad drivers is caused by our universal distaste for selfishness. When you got cut on in line for the school lunch in first grade, that went into the selfishness reaction reserve. My stepmother and step sisters were huge contributers to my personal account. For the hatred we all have for the people that put their own desires before ours, we dislike people who put our lives in danger so they can get the pizza home before it cools. Selfish is a criminals state of mind and should be punishable alone but with a motor vehicle multiplier added on (intent with a deadly weapon)