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My look at anger, the asshole of the emotional spectrum.

I used to get angry. A lot.

Adam Avitable is angry

High school and college were punctuated with periods of almost tangible hatred for the world, for my family, for anyone who I felt was unfair and unreasonable. I punched holes in walls, screamed at the top of my lungs from the serenity of my car, and imagined terrible things happening to those whom I thought deserved it.ย Late at night, when others were out drinking, I would break into the gym, put on deep bass, and attack the heavy bag until my knuckles bled.

And one day, it faded. In fact, everything faded, quickly replaced with total apathy. I had a phase that lasted the final two years of college where I didn’t care about anything or anyone. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I used it as a chance to figure out why I got so angry, and I realized that I didn’t know. There is no reason to get angry in that way. No benefit. It didn’t help me, it didn’t make me stronger. All anger did was get in my way and prevent me from living.

Now, I don’t get angry – not really. Sure, I’ll rant from time to time, but that’s more just an exercise in creativity than anger. And idiot drivers and unreasonable people always plant a seed of vitriol that threatens to sprout, but it never does. I haven’t yelled at someone out of anger in over fifteen years. When I was married, we never fought in a way that I’ve seen other couples fight. Her anger wasn’t matched in intensity by mine – I stayed calm and apologized and knew that once everything blew over, we’d be able to talk reasonably about whatever the issue was.

Whenever I feel that flash of anger, I take a deep breath and think about what purpose my anger would have. I don’t want to make other people feel bad for their actions, even if their actions could be construed as wrong. I don’t want to make an employee for a large corporation hate his or her job more just because of the corporate policies. I don’t need to feel better about myself by denigrating or destroying someone just because I have the ability to do so. And that helps me to relax, and I can focus on the issue that made me angry and talk about it in a reasoned, calm tone. (It’s funny, though – sometimes that reasoned tone infuriates others because they think that I’m doing it to be condescending or patronizing, when I’m only trying to avoid snapping and saying something that’s unnecessarily hurtful or petty that I’d regret later.) It prevents me from burning bridges, it makes it easy for me to apologize, and it keeps me from taking the trust that others placed in me and betraying it just to make myself feel better.

Anger has always been the emotion most accessible to me, but some emotions don’t come as easily. Sure, I feel love, and open up and fall in love easier than I should, and I feel pain and hurt so acutely that I can’t breathe, but happiness? That one is so fucking hard for me to feel because I try to apply logic to it. And logic and happy don’t go together, which means that being reasonable and calm can equal robotic and frustrating. When I’m happy, I can tell you that I feel happy, but it’s not impassioned and it’s not emotional and that can make it unbelievable for those around me. I don’t really know how to be happy like others are. I want to, though.

I’ve always been proud of my ability to avoid getting angry, but recently I think that it may be adversely affecting me. Not in the holding it in until I explode and shoot up an office building way, but in a way that I associate with someone who is deaf or blind and gains stronger senses. Rationalizing away my anger so that I can be the better person, so that I can try to be reasonable and understanding, so I can avoid taking out frustration on someone who may or may not deserve it – all that does is increase my anxiety and depression and pain until it’s almost unbearable, a stone that drags me under. And when the people I thought I could trust jump out of the way to avoid being dragged under as well, it just makes it all worse and self-perpetuating, even when I can’t blame them in the first place.

I’ve been emotionally dismantled over the past month, torn down from multiple directions, and things have never been more raw than they are right now. I’m in a dark place where I’m finding it hard to be reasonable and logical, because how can it be logical to want to lay in bed in the fetal position and sing Sinead O’Connor songs to yourself until you fall asleep? The robot logic board part of my brain has no answer for that, and I think that’s why my anger got away from me today.

All it took was one little event and before I had a chance to even think about what I was saying, it was too late: “You shitty fucking cocksucker! You’ve ruined everything, and I want to throw you into a fire and watch you melt and die. All you had to do was one. Fucking. Thing. And you fucked it up, you worthless little pissant piece of shit. Is it so hard? Am I speaking motherfucking English? Why can’t you fucking understand me? I JUST WANT TO WATCH SOME FUCKING AMERICAN FUCKING NINJA FUCKING WARRIOR, YOU FUCKING PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT FUCKING REMOTE FUCKING CONTROL!”

I don’t know if I feel better or not, but I’ll be over here singing “I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant” if you need me.

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46 Replies to “My look at anger, the asshole of the emotional spectrum.”

  1. Stephanie

    Yelling at people in cars from the safety of my own car tends to work for me. That’s where I break out the Pink, the old school No Doubt, or the Alanis Morrissette. Angry Bitch Music, I like to call it. I totally get where you’re coming from.

  2. Kirsty

    As you know, I have red hair, and us redheads have a reputation for a wild temper – in my case it’s absolutely true (ask my kids…).
    But the emotion that gets me the most is despair. I’ve been in a really, really bad place for the last few months (and yes, I’ve been listening to Sinead too… and all kinds of miserable, soul-wrenching music) and am finding it hard (even with prescription narcotics) to pull myself back from the edge. Depression is eating me up alive.
    I’ve also always found it very hard to just “be happy”. One of the many criticisms my ex made of me (even when we were together) is that I’m too logical, too rational. And, as you said, logic and happiness don’t go together. I find it impossible (even when not clinically depressed) to be carefree, happy, whatever.
    I don’t know who let you down, or how, and it’s none of my business. But I’m in the same dark, sad, foetal position, listening to Sinead and Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen whilst drinking too much and getting rather too fond of razor blades. If you need someone to “talk” to, you can talk to me, I’m discreet, a very long way away and pretty much always on line.
    When you’re feeling like this, being alone is what you seek, but is absolutely not what you need. I know this, yet still avoid leaving the house, answering the phone. But I’m here, safe in my little on-line world, if you need me.
    I mean it.

  3. bellawriter

    It’s not anger that gets me, but abject self loathing. Then I usually come out of that haze when something good happens. Might be as simply as a hug from one of my kids or the way the light is on a particular afternoon.
    But, that being said, my heart goes out to you that you’ve had a shitty time lately. If I were in Florida, I’d totally hug you.

    • Avitable

      @bellawriter, if I have good things going on in one part of my life, I can usually focus on those to help me deal with the stress of others. But when it’s happening all around me, that’s when I’m not quite sure how to deal with it. And thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Nuala Reilly

        @Avitable, You’re welcome. I can identify. I went through a period last year where it seemed that everything I touched turned to shite. The worst part was most of it was my own fault, I just couldn’t seem to stop being self destructive.
        Email me anytime if you want to talk or vent.

        By the way, you inspired me to blog today on my process and how I get into my self loathing. And…I’m glad the book arrived safely. Enjoy.

  4. Brittany

    Marilyn Manson, Korn and the looked are my rage music when I’m angry. I do often crank up the bass too.

    With that said….screaming obscenities at inanimate objects is the best form of therapy. Seriously. Those little fuckers can take a lickin & keep on tickin’.

  5. Al_Pal

    I’m actually pretty good at being happy [after a suppressed-anger sarcastic-teenage-period], but I still rage and punch pillows or furniture, or stomp my feet angrily sometimes.

  6. Clown

    And of course I make Mew sound very stereo-typically Asian.

    “You no look angry enough! More angry. Mooooore! You be like one of those mad birds in that game you play. Very more angry!!!”

  7. Megan

    Depression, for me, was more about frustration and anger than anything else. I am incredibly irritable when I fall into the dark. Manage the depression and the anger will probably go with it.

    As far as being happy, I firmly believe that it is a choice (barring depression). Deciding to be happy and doing what makes you happy are the pathways to being generally happy. No amount of logic or rationality is involved. In fact, it is always when I follow my head instead of my heart that I am the most unhappy.

    I hope you can find your happy soon. XO

  8. Windyfairy

    I don’t remember you owning a trenchcoat in highschool…of course, IB had me a bit busy…
    I could insert some meaningless BS, here, about how things will pick up, yadda, yadda, but you know what? That’s stupid. Sometimes, life sucks. Sometimes, we suck (no smart comments, you!). In the end, I think you know that we shouldn’t measure our self worth by what we do but by who we are. Just the fact that you are self-aware enough to look at yourself honestly is amazing and wonderful, and the next time we’re in Florida, we’re going to take you out for a couple of drinks and let my mom have a night in with the kids. Hugs for you! And no breaking out old school Cure, either. Jeez, it’s no wonder I was a little goth after getting into them. I feel like crying just thinking about “Disintegration”.

  9. Liz

    1) I really like the new header. And the (lack of) hair. It suits you well! A lot of dudes can’t pull off bald.

    2) I kind of have a short temper. I’ve been working on it because I don’t want to ever snap at my future kids. (I don’t want to snap at anyone, but especially not my kids.) As pansy and cliche as this is going to sound, I’ve been doing some meditation via The Meditation Podcast, and it’s really helped me with my stress and anxiety levels. I’m the kind of person whose brain is always going 90mph, and if you even unintentionally interrupt what I’m trying to do — because there is always something I need to do — it freaks me out. I’ve almost become high strung at this point. I’m always stressin’ lately.

    I like that particular podcast because it isn’t all “God loves you” and “inhale to find your SPIRIT” and stuff. It’s just using breathing to calm your body, mind, and whatever is bothering you. You should totally give it a try.

    I hope things get better for you. I think you’re swell, and I’m sorry I haven’t been popping in here as often as I used to. Take care!

  10. Lynda

    I had a therapist who told me, after my sister died that emotions were not logical. I was often trying to find the logic in why I was so sad or frustrated. That being said, I went to her for my sister’s death, but ended up talking to her more about my failing marriage. That always stuck with me though.

    Now I try to just ride with it. If I am sad, I’ll be sad. If I’m happy, I’ll be happy. If I’m depressed, well, I try to snap out of that because I have been there before and don’t really want to be in that place again. I’ve discovered my depression usually is because of a cause, not a chemical, though.

  11. Lisa

    My therapist told me not too long ago that I’m amazingly functional considering how fucked up I am. Apparently I’m mostly happy because I suppress everything else, and apparently that’s not exactly healthy. Whatever. Since I’ve recently suppressed myself into an ulcer I’m working on feeling my feelings and finding outlets for stress that don’t involve cheeseburgers and/or punching people in the face. Interestingly enough, anger was the one thing I always had a hard time controlling, in fact I used to have an explosive temper. Now I’ve even suppressed that. Some day if I don’t get the hang of this feeling thing I’m pretty sure I’m going explode into a million billion tiny sparkly particles of suppressed bullshit, and it will be glorious.

  12. Faiqa

    I admire your ability to stay cool, but, as someone who cares so much for you – I worry about it, as well. Sometimes, I worry that you stay rational when you should be angry. I see you mistreated and I see people label you wrongly and then most people assume you’re guilty of things you haven’t done. Your rationality makes you look guilty to people who don’t know what a sensitive and sweet person you are. People mistakenly assume that innocence can only be proven by righteous indignation. It’s bullshit and that makes ME angry. I wish you’d get angry when you should. Until you do that, though, I got your back, homie. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Shudder… I hate being nice to you. Your fly is undone. God, You’re such a loser. Ahhh, that’s better.

  13. Sybil Law

    I’ve said this to you a hundred times, so I know you know it – you’re a control freak, so you’ve controlled yourself numb.
    I am not impressed by people who don’t get angry any more than I am by the ones who fly off the handle at every little thing. Being human means letting GO, within reason. Trying to constantly control your reactions to everything around you sure doesn’t sound like fun. I can only imagine how draining that must be.

  14. Elizabeth - Table for Five

    I have a horrible, hair-trigger temper, which is fueled by the lovely combination of depression and anxiety/panic that lives in my brain. I can go from fine to screeching in a heartbeat. I’ve spent countless hours apologizing to my husband and kids for it. I can hear myself doing it, but it’s like the irrationality bursts out of me and is an unstoppable force.

    I also understand about depression. Real, living in a constant fog depression. The look on your face in the “expert guide” post you did last month hurt my heart, I wanted to reach through the screen and hug you as hard as I could. I know, Adam. I understand. And I know we don’t know each other that well, but I’m here. Any time. Just hit me up on Gmail chat, I’m a great listener.

  15. happyhippierose

    This, I get. My Dad has always been my intellectual and emotional role model. And for him, anger and frustration are much easier to get at than the more vulnerable and exposing feelings… like sadness, fear, inadequacy. So when faced with situations that evoke the latter set – he reacts with anger.

    For a long time, Middle School and High School, I chose the same. My temper was fiercely short and red hot. I’d fight. I’d yell. I’d be forcibly removed from public establishments. And I thought I was a badass… the goal for me was to be “hard.” That was the ideal that so many of my friends upheld. Don’t let anything get to you, show no fear, don’t crack…

    But eventually, life happened. And I learned the depth and beauty of multiple emotions. I got my heart broken, I chased some dreams. I achieved and fell short, I got the taste of blood out of my mouth by replacing it with sweat, tears of joy, and well… jizz.

    Oops, off topic.

    Anyways, I really get this. There is genuine loveliness in the complexity of true and dynamic feelings. Don’t get me wrong, the sleeping bear still lies within me. But for the most part, maturity has served me well and I know how to keep that angry bitch in hibernation. At least enough to happily and peacefully function.

    When it’s time to compete though, I’ll poke her with a stick! Hey, I get results *shrug*

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