I used to get angry. A lot.
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. 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.