Archives for category: anger

I’ll head out this morning, and in a relatively short time (hours) I’ll catch up with my Traveling Partner for the weekend. Friends. Music. Goings on. The weekend. Lovely – and I am so looking forward to it! I’ve missed him greatly.

I plan my route with care this morning. See, there’s this particular experience I have pretty much every time I make this trip, and it’s not pleasant. There’s rather a long stretch of “highway” that is almost always gridlocked, aggravating, and populated with frustrated aggressive drivers, a handful of unskilled ones, and lurking in the mix, one or two people who are actually straight up “up to no good” – you know the ones; folks that get angry, take shit personally, and then act out their anger in real life putting everyone else at great risk. Drivers who “brake check” someone following them uncomfortably closely, or who is simply driving faster than they are. Drivers who deliberately cut other drivers off – and then “brake check” them, to “make a point” or otherwise demonstrate dominance. Drivers who “match speeds” with a car in an adjacent lane specifically to prevent another driver from passing them. It’s dumb – and it’s dangerous. Fuck, people, just drive your god damned car, and do it safely. Focus on what you’re doing in the world, yourself. Shit.

See? I’m already caught up in a moment that hasn’t even happened yet. I don’t enjoy that, and I would prefer not to just hand over the keys to my emotional experience to some rando fuckknob in a car. lol So. I am replanning my route with greater understanding of what I want from my experience in life, instead of letting my gps direct me down the same road everyone else is taking.

I have the time to enjoy the drive. I shoot for making it enjoyable, instead of “efficient”. Can I literally not even travel that stretch of highway at all, perhaps? Looks like I can – on a smaller rural road. My gps would not ever even consider this route; it’s a bit too close to the interstate highway, and the gps doesn’t really understand why I would choose anything else. In miles, it’s a bit more distance to drive, but in estimated time it’s very nearly the same. Speed matters, and the section of interstate I won’t be driving rarely moves faster than a residential street as it is. Do I mind not driving freeway speeds? Not at all. Not a thing with me, it’s more about a comfortable experience ofย  being neither rushed nor crowded. I plan my route down this rural “state highway”, and find that it avoids basically the entire stretch of the freeway that aggravates me. Nice. What will the experience be like? I don’t know – I haven’t had it yet. I do know it won’t be “the same” – because I have chosen differently. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a metaphor. You have choices. Begin again. โค

I woke with a headache. No arguing with that; it’s a headache, it hurts, I feel it. Being a positive person isn’t about pretending there is no headache. That’s silly game playing that lacks consistent results. It’s more about… being aware that the headache is a temporary thing, that it will pass, and that it is only a headache. My choices still matter more than the headache itself.

We can do a lot to predict outcomes of events and choices, given a willingness to be self-aware, honest, and true to the data. Our choices still matter; our choices change the outcomes. Predictably enough, predictable outcomes change over time, as our choices are made, and our will brought to action. There’s no reason being angry about an outcome we’ve chosen, ourselves, with our actions; we could have seen it coming, generally, as human primates are fairly predictable. Even the unpredictable ones, if you’ve observed their specific ways long enough. Hell, the predictable nature of unpredictable people is so predictable, in fact, that fairly realistic scripts can be written of such things, for our amusement.

I sip my coffee and wish my Traveling Partner well. Day break soon. It’s been a rough couple weeks as his Other’s mental health declined, and her behavior spiraled out of control; that shit gets ugly fast. It was also fairly predictable, taken in the full context of my own experience of her. I take a deep breath and relax. He’s okay. Our friends are okay. Material losses are just things. Hopefully all that ugliness and stress is behind them, and everyone can move on with healing. Done with that.

Emotional resilience in times of turmoil is a big deal. If I don’t have it, I don’t bounce back from stress, and if I am not easily able to bounce back from stress, it begins to wear me down over time, becoming harder and harder to deal with, and as smaller things begin to loom larger in my daily experience, I become raw, emotional, off-balance… and I start to take shit very very personally (and almost nothing at all in life is actually all that damned personal). It all spirals downward from there. How is it that emotional resilience isn’t a common every day emotional wellness talking point? Why is there not elementary level course curriculum in emotional health in public schools? Why has it been such a struggle to get health insurers to cover mental health care fully and without limits? Who the fuck came up with the idea that emotions are the bad guy? Our ignorance about our emotions is far worse than any single emotional experience ever could be. Our personal demons are less likely to be our actual emotions than our lack of emotional intelligence, our lack of cultivated emotional resilience – and the ensuing chaos as our intellect attempts (and fails) time and again to “cut to the front of the line” in every experience. Reliably, our emotions get there first. Visceral. Raw. Real. Felt. Unavoidably we feel our emotions. (That’s why we call them “feelings”.) What we do about them is a wholly separate matter.

…Emotions are still only emotions, though. A reaction to stimulus. Sometimes that stimulus isn’t a high quality of “real” at all. We react emotionally with equal intensity to actual events as we do to imagined ones. Our internal narrative drives our emotional experience every bit as much as actual events and interactions do (for some people, less tied to reality, more so). This is problematic when our own lack of emotional intelligence, or a lack of developed emotional resilience, results in being unable to discern the relative value of whatever is the source material of our emotional experience.

If I am thinking about my Traveling Partner, and imagine losing him… forever… and I evoke an emotional reaction in myself with that thought, I may briefly feel a terrible grief. (No kidding – it won’t be anything like the real deal, but I won’t discern that difference in the moment I am feeling my momentary emotion.) Is the grief not real? Oh hell yes, the emotions are real! That’s what often undermines our ability to maintain resilience in the face of storms of hormones, as women; our emotions are entirely “real”. What is questionable is the quality of the source material driving that experience. Our emotions are bio-chemical. We’re literally on drugs when we’re enraged. On drugs when we are euphoric, in love, experiencing “new relationship energy”. On drugs when we are sad, feeling low, and overcome by ennui. Emotional intelligence is the quality that allows us to understand ourselves sufficiently well to say “omg this sucks, I’m not myself today, I need some space (or I need some hugs) and I’m sorry in advance – I’m feeling a little less able to find my center today”… without laying waste to the experience of our loved ones in a shitty moment by weaponizing our emotions and attacking the world. Over time, “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, if you regularly treat your loved ones poorly. Eventually, too much damage is done, and no apology eases the hurt feelings, or restores the lost trust.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

We are creatures of emotion and reason. Understanding the complex interplay of intellect and feelings, of reaction and resilience, of emotional intelligence, cognitive skill, and intellect, goes a long way to making us seem more rational while we are also experiencing a rich and varied emotional life. Trying to tip the scales in favor of one or the other is an exercise in futility that weakens our ability to adapt to change and to overcome trauma. Avoid or shut down our emotions, and we become distant, tend toward callousness, prone to clueless insensitivity, unable to fully experience intimacy in relationships with others. Suppress our intellect, eschew a factual basis to life, and we find ourselves chaotic, reactive, and unable to gain perspective. Either of those results in our treating everyone around every bit as badly as we treat ourselves. (Well, yeah, because it’s a true thing that we do generally; we treat everyone as badly – or as well –ย  as we treat ourselves). Fuck all that – it is a more comfortable experience to walk my path mindfully as much as I am able, aware of my emotions, appreciative of my intellect and cognitive gifts, able to balance and use them both comfortably. I am able to bounce back from stress and trauma with greater ease. It does take practice. Yep. And, you guessed it, there are verbs involved. (And maybe a meditation cushion. lol)

Real is real. I still have choices. You do, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s time to begin again.

Greatest troubleshooting step of all time; have you tried shutting it off, and turning it back on? Pretty good generic advice, even where relationships and people go. Sometimes it only tells you more about what isn’t working, but sometimes it’s a handy quick fix by itself.

Moments of great stress and turmoil? Anger? Chaos? Shut that shit down. Come back later. Get some rest. Set it aside, really just walk away from it. (Maybe permanently, yes that’s a thing people can do – even you.) Chronic lasting sorrow? Hard if the sorrow is over a real, deeply painful, recent or lasting circumstance, I know, but still possible. (Sometimes much harder if the sorrow “isn’t real” at all, that’s sort of a known thing about mental illness.) Walk in the sun. Find someone to laugh with, something to laugh about. Read a book about something altogether different. Hell, take a walk with that sorrow in mind, and really let your thoughts run free for a while. Or take a nap.

I’m not saying “turning it off” is easy. It’s not. It’s hard. Still doable. Still a choice to make. Still verbs involved – that you can choose to do. This is real and achievable. Are you mired in some bleak or horrible bullshit, right now? Shut it down. Walk away. Change your perspective. Go elsewhere. Hang with other friends. Choices. …And if you, instead, continue to endure, and suffer, and flail, and struggle, and fight, and stew, and seethe, and rail against life? That’s a choice, too.

You get to decide. You get to take action. This is your journey. You gotta walk your own hard mile – but you are also your own cartographer. The map may not be the world – but it is yours to make.

I sip my coffee before the trip down to see my Traveling Partner and friends for the day. Possibly just a day trip. I carefully consider what I’m bringing, mindful that there is limited space, and it’s a very short visit. I consider limited resources and individual needs. My mind lights briefly on a distant madwoman, a former friend, an X, and shake my head with sorrow and disappointment. I may have lost thousands of dollars of original art in the storm of her chaos and delusional rage, but she has no power over me unless I give that to her; I choose not to, and turn my thoughts back to the day ahead of me. My day. My experience. My life. My choices.

It’s still an every day, circumstance-by-circumstance, moment-to-moment choice for me to “walk on”, to “let this one go”, or to shut down drama by declining to participate in madness. There are still verbs involved. My results still vary – but the quality of my life improves greatly when I do. “You have no power over me” reverberates in my thoughts. I smile. Finish my coffee. There is great power in new beginnings. That power is mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

I begin again.

You know what soap-bubbles, expectations, and assumptions have in common? The amount of substance they’ve got. lol Test your assumptions – be really brutal about investigating what supports your opinions. If you’re wrong, you most likely would benefit from knowing that. Those expectations? They aren’t real at all. Just made up shit in our thinking that we wander around with as if we have some reason to … crap, how do I not use either “expect” or “assume” right there. We gotta knock that shit off.

Ask. Clarify. Observe. Question. Test. Check. Double-check. I’m not talking about deep-seated insecurities being re-verified constantly. Not even a little. Kind of the opposite. I think I’m trying to describe the balance a secure being must find between their contentment and their future, using choices – choices ideally made based on an understanding of the world, and their own life, such that the outcome is as desired, mostly, generally speaking. It’s very hard to do that when we let ourselves live in a soap-bubble.

One more soap-bubble pops as I move through life. Shit got real, and not in a pretty way. My Traveling Partner is safe. Our friends are safe. The bullshit and drama that went down probably cost us all a lot more than we’d have been willing to let go of. Many thousands of dollars were burned up (metaphorically) in a savage display of uncontrolled fury and mental illness. Fucking hell. There is profound risk in giving people “second chances”, and new beginnings don’t always turn out better than old bullshit. Sometimes we have to look at the balance sheet and admit that we can’t afford to give that person more chances; it is too costly, emotionally, or financially. In this case? All the things. It was a poor choice to put any eggs in that badly woven damaged basket.

Once more for the folks in the back; no amount of your anger justifies destroying other people’s property, robbing them of their sense of safety or security in their homes, acting out against them in violence, or saying some of the vile shit human primates are capable of saying when they are enraged. It’s not okay. Do better.ย You are making choices.

Does this experience, that may have actually cost me 10s of thousands of dollars in destroyed or damaged art work (of my own) cause me to reconsider being willing to love, to trust, or to begin again? No. It just reminds me that assuming positive intent is not an assurance of actual positive intent, in fact. It reminds me to test my assumptions, to avoid implicit expectations, and to be willing to walk on when things don’t work out, with no looking back. My good heart gives second chances. I hadn’t previously given an ex, an actual ex, a “second chance”, before. I am unlikely to do that again. But the terrible behavior of others is no reason to compromise my own good nature, or be dissuaded from being the woman I most want to be. I decide who I become. Those choices are mine. There are verbs involved.

I left the office yesterday trembling with stress, triggered, and on the edge of tears, in a hurry to get safely home so that I could compulsively check for reassuring communications from loved ones, and check in with others that they were okay, too. I needed that for me. What’s new and beautiful and makes this experience, after-the-fact, pretty powerfully positive; I bounced back. After a few quiet minutes meditating in the car before I began my commute, I was emotionally safe to drive, calm, and “okay”. By the end of the evening, I was able to sleep.ย  I woke rested, and the day ahead, for all obvious purposes, appears to be a fairly ordinary one. (Although, to be fair, yesterday got off to a great start…)

I wish my Traveling Partner and my distant loved ones well from afar, finish my coffee, and get ready to begin again.

Don’t hate. I mean it. What a huge start down the path of being the person you most want to be (probably). Just don’t fucking hate people. Don’t say hateful things. Don’t undertake hateful actions. Don’t enable hate. Don’t support hate. Don’t become the embodiment of hate through your words or commerce. Fuck. How god damned hard is that, really??

I’m rather angry this morning at the horrible way some obviously grown adults have been treating the Parkland survivors… over the choice to protest what those survivors see as the pivotal issue in the attack on their school. Let’s get past the rather obvious fact that we live in a country that says it values freedom of speech – if that were really the case, we’d all shut the fuck up and listen once in a while. (When was the last time you politely and earnestly listened to the entire monologue of an associate’s views without interrupting to object or counter them, and did so without a rebuttal?) What I’m most angry about is that, even in that freedom of speech context, there are actual grown ass adults attacking recently traumatized young people – because they are offended by the opinions being expressed (that are subjective, personal, and informed by recent violence)! What the fuck? When did we become monsters?

I just don’t have anything nice to say to someone who thinks their right to fondle a firearm takes a priority over comforting the victims of violence. That’s some clueless douche-baggery right there. That “right to bear arms”? Not a bigger deal that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Get some fucking perspective.

I take a deep breath. Pull up out of the slime of the depths of the internet. I finish my coffee quickly, still awash in anger – and there it is. The secret sauce of a great many of our most horrible human moments; our anger. I pause quietly and look at my own. It’s often these moments of disappointment with humanity generally, in which I come face-to-face with the things I am still working on myself. Anger is definitely one of those. Few things fuel shitty behavior and vile invective like impotent frustrated rage.

Another deep breath. Anger has a certain intoxicating visceral feel that surges like a drug through my bloodstream. People “high” on anger lose sight of what matters most to them. People suffering from acute anger poisoning aren’t just capable of killing – they become, also, quite capable of feeling righteous and justified in doing so. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” isn’t something a person reacting to anger still gives a crap about – at least not anyone else’s, and sometimes not even their own. That’s something to contemplate. Is your anger worth killing for? If you think so, how do you reconcile that with that other human being’s right to live their life?

It’s hard to even think about anger without becoming, at some point, angry. Weird. Well, frankly, I have issues. lol You know that; you’re reading this. I’m working on them, though, and even my relationship with anger gets thoroughly scrutinized. I can’t say I have what I consider a healthy relationship with anger – my own or anyone else’s. The experience of extreme anger or rage expressed by other people is highly likely to trigger my PTSD – not helpful, I promise you that. My own anger? I’m not “better than” anyone else; it’s capable of driving some really shitty behavior that I am not content to permit from myself. So. I put in the time and study and practice required to better myself, in some small measure, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, provocation-by-provocation – even on the internet. There are verbs involved. Right now, there’s also a book involved. It’s on my reading list.

Frankly, deep-diving emotion and working to develop and improve emotional intelligence, have seemed to be quite critical on this journey – but it is complicated work, and requires a great deal of practice. Worthwhile. Maybe even the entire purpose of existing as a human being is somehow tangled up in becoming emotionally intelligent, learning to balance emotion and reason, and learning to treat others truly well. I don’t know. I rarely ask the question “what is the meaning of life”. lol Not my question. Doesn’t need my answer.

I do need to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚