Archives for posts with tag: anger is an emotion too

Yesterday was weird. I was angry all day; I’m a women, living in a nation that does not respect or value women, facing the possible Supreme Court appointment of an accused rapist. Well, shit. We’ve already got that very same sort of grotesquerie seated in the Whitehouse, and unknown, uncounted, unacknowledged numbers of that very same bullshit in our Congress, the Senate, our government agencies, our workplaces, and yes, even in some of our homes. Don’t be afraid to feel angry; this shit is worth our anger.

Be angry.

Vote.

Anger is weird toxic shit, though. As with a proper fairytale curse, it inevitably spills back in some way on the deliverer. We carry our anger in secret – problematic – then explode – inappropriate, ineffective, and generally the consequences are unpleasant. We end up doing a lot of “damage control” and repairing our angry words with excessive apologies, even pleading, and submissive posturing. We could do better with our anger. We can learn to be more skillfully, relentlessly, effectively angry. I’m not there yet – but I believe in the possibility, and the helpful folks of the rich white guy frat boy club currently holding office are totally here to help; they are keeping me seriously angry. I’m getting lots of practice.

One challenge is holding focus and keeping my anger relevant, limited, and correctly directed where it belongs. Preventing my anger from spilling over everywhere, into every relationship, is sometimes hard. The lines between actual harms, and perceived slights, become blurry. Anger is powerful shit. Wielding it skillfully tends not to come very naturally to me after a lifetime of being told I can’t have mine, that it’s not appropriate to express my anger, that my anger is unreasonable… being told for a lifetime to stop talking, to sit down and shut up, to restrain myself… being shouted down and talked over, for a lifetime, in most relationships (whether work or professional)… the underlying chronic persistent repression, being robbed of personal agency, being provided a restricted set of human and civil rights (just for lacking a penis, for fucks’ sake)… Yep. Harnessing that massive seething roiling pent-up body of lifetime rage and very carefully directing just so, at a particular moment or movement or person… is fucking hard.

One challenge is not being convinced, by those well-meaning loved ones inconvenienced by – or frightened of – my anger, to dim my light, to mute my voice, to stifle my rage. Rage is scary shit. I’m keeping mine, thanks. I’m fucking angry. I’m not going to shut up about it. You can walk on if that’s a problem for you. I’m okay with that.

No yelling though. No yelling in the house. No yelling in the morning. No yelling in frustration. Just… no yelling. Yelling is triggering, and generally, once a person is reduced to yelling, no communicating is happening at all. Knock that shit off. It’s not useful.

Seriously. Man or women. No fucking yelling. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment to calm the fuck down, and try again – without yelling.

I want to live my life well and beautifully. I want to enjoy moments. I want to indulge in life’s pleasures. I want great conversation, with close friends, and people who care passionately about things in life that also matter to me. I want to enjoy lovely emotionally relevant art. I want to feel joyous and empowered. I want to approach my life as a journey that belongs wholly to me. I don’t want to be swamped by my anger. I don’t want to be incapacitated or overwhelmed by it. I don’t want it to become a festering wound that deepens over time. There is much to consider.

I sip my coffee and consider it.

I sip my coffee and consider the friendship of women, too. So many of us struggle with that; women have been divided, often. Women are powerful together. It’s time we reach out more easily to each other. Forge lifetime friendships that support, encourage, nurture – and take back our world. 🙂

Last night I enjoyed the company of two women. One I’d met before, briefly, and one I had not met previously. Women of great heart and emotional depth. Women with something to say about themselves, and about life. Women with a trajectory – a vision of their desired future. Women who care. Women who laugh. Women who “get it”. We had a great evening of conversation. We were authentic and vulnerable. We were real and frank, and funny. We forgot to go to dinner. We overlooked the time. We talked – continuously, delightedly, eagerly – in that very specific way that generally leads to, in other homes, on other evenings, some man breaking in to announce he “can’t get a word in edgewise”, or to make a “playful” accusation that we talk to much, or to request some service or task that he could easily handle himself, or to point out that we are “chattering away” in some dismissive tone – as if our words with each other matter less than our willingness to put our attention on him. I am so fucking done with that. (Keep up, bruh, or listen politely and maybe learn something.)

This Kavanaugh bullshit has gotten me – a lot of women – pretty angry. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel supported. It’s become too hard to avoid recognizing that women are specifically not valued, and are specifically perceived as property, even now, and even by the men in the fucking government (why the fuck have we elected this??). It’s hard. So… I converse. I converse with women. I’m not making any particular effort in those moments of conversation to make room for the care and consideration of men; I need to be heard. I also need to be educated… or… un-indoctrinated, at least. So I’m also reading. The titles are very telling, I suppose: “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny“, “Rage Becomes Her“, “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower“… I am clearly not alone in my anger. I have spent far too long on the words of men. For balance, though, I’m also keeping “Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness” close at hand. I do seek balance. Utility. Function. Effectiveness. I am not looking to loose the wild anger of my ancient pain on the world – just see through some changes that would improve the world for women, and thereby for all of us.

If you’re a man hoping to be some part of some sort of solution, listening is a good starting point. Really listening. Making room to understand that we (women) are having a very different experience of life than you are. (Please don’t push back on this with some sort of statement about your experience and your needs; we fucking know already, we live that reality for you every fucking day, it is part of our daily indoctrination, and even our formal educations. Knock it off for a bit, okay? That’s specifically the ask here; give us a moment of your time, really. Authentically. Listen deeply. Hear us.)

Enough with that. I’ve probably said enough. 🙂

This morning is lovely and quiet, following a merry evening of lively conversation with beautiful well-spoken women. Powerful. I enjoy my coffee smiling quietly. It’s a good morning. I feel content, and whole. I am aware of my anger in the background – it does not rob me of this lovely quiet moment. It’s an extraordinary place to be with myself. I’ve come a long way as a woman, and as a human being, over the past couple years, and this feels like a reward for a lot of committed focused effort to be the woman, the person, I most want to be. I eagerly look ahead to seeing my Traveling Partner sometime soon, and sharing his energy, here, in this lovely space. We’re good together, and it feels good to be supported, valued, nurtured… Fuck. I miss him.  🙂 I’m betting that this visit won’t find my anger crowding out my love; there is room for all my emotions to exist in my experience. I am a human being – a creature of both emotion and reason.

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

It’s time to begin again. It’s time to change the world. ❤

Please note: this is not the usual thing, I think, and I’m not really sure quite what “set me off”. I feel vaguely inclined to apologize, or perhaps to at least give you an opportunity to reconsider this one, so… here’s me, alerting you that this is some pent-up ancient anger simmering just under the surface, and, well… a bit of it seeped through, somehow, and bubbled up… and spilled over. So. Angry ranting ahead. Choose wisely. 😉 ❤

One more chance to choose perspective and beauty. Angry ranting ahead… you’ve been warned. 🙂

I made the mistake of scrolling through Facebook first, this morning. Gross. Seeing the ethical and moral decline of a country I feel part of, connected to, is frankly super depressing and… provoking. It irks me to deal with the constant continued attack on women, on people of color, on people who face economic disadvantages, on people who choose reason, on science (and scientists)… all so a small handful of rich old white guys can fatten up their bank accounts and afford enough great medical care to manage a few more self-congratulatory erections and strut around impressing themselves while others suffer. It’s fairly sad and pathetic, on the one hand, and on the other… it enrages me. I’m frustrated, and my emotions bounce between anarchistic anger, and immobilizing learned helplessness; I am not an old rich white guy, not the daughter, wife, or chattel of an old rich white guy, nor subject to any clear benefit that they exist. Still… I persist. It’s an ugly, hateful system that preys on the weak, robs the poor, and penalizes the outspoken.

On the other hand, when I lift my head from Facebook, and put down the new media’s aggressive outrage-generating machinery, and interact directly with the world, I find myself connecting with a lot of other people who, just like me, are angry and unwilling to sit down and shut up about it. I’ve unhesitatingly ended friendships over the past two years solely because I was not inclined to participate in hate. (I’m not seeking praise for that; I have things to atone for over a long life. I will not reach the end of this journey able to say “I never hated anyone and always did my best and cared for my fellow travelers”, and I often find myself so very angry.) I see other people – real people – who actually care. I don’t mean grand gestures that demonstrate with big obvious public actions that we need to care. I don’t mean running for office or protesting in the streets. Those things are needed, too, but… I mean, I see every day people helping each other out, being kind, offering support in a difficult moment, expressing affection, sharing… those things give me hope. There aren’t enough of those things. There’s a lot of fucking hate.

So, I put aside Facebook this morning, resolving to log off social media for the weekend and get some digital downtime. The world can wait on my anger for some other day. I need some rest and I need to recharge and take care of the being of light resting within this fragile vessel.

My heart feels heavy when I think of women who won’t have healthcare forced to bear children they don’t want, on poor timing, because their consent is not sufficiently respected, or who don’t have easy access to birth control. I think of women and girls who could turn the world around with scientific breakthroughs, improvements in technology, great works of engineering, art, or philosophy who lose their opportunity through a willful institutionalized lack of basic respect. I think about women of color. I think about women in poverty. I think about mentally ill women. I think about the woman in the mirror. It feels like a very personal attack on me as a woman every time I see some smug rich geriatric white asshole in office smirking over something else he’s just done or said that diminishes women. If I say so, I get called angry. Fuck yes, I’m angry. Why wouldn’t I be? Do the simple thought exercise; turn the tables in any direction you choose, change the balance of power and put yourself at a chronic institutionalized legislated disadvantage – however you identify yourself, in whatever class or group – make sure you add a hearty helping of no one takes you seriously about that, so you can be both frustrated and demeaned, and take that shit for a test drive. No heroics, make it real. Is it too hard? Well, too bad – at least you get to choose whether to think about it.

Privilege being what it is, I find it hard to see my own. I’ve been making an effort to really really try – because it matters, and because hate is so pervasive, and those who hate tend to be so fucking self-righteous, justified and self-congratulatory about it. I want no part of hate.  I study. I listen. I mean, I really full fucking stop take time to listen. It can be hard to hear that I share characteristics with a “problem class of individuals” being both white, and at a point in my life when most of my basic needs are relatively well-met. It’s still necessary to listen, and to understand, and to be part of changing the world.

I’m sure old rich republican white guys think they’re doing women who rely on Planned Parenthood a real favor – go ahead, ask them, they will shove some line of clueless bullshit your way so fast you’ll need an army of fact-checkers on meth to sort that shit out in time to stop some internet troll from climbing on board to turn it into “news”. I’m not immune to being human, and I know I can, will, and do make mistakes that have the potential to hurt people… but I don’t want to be someone insensitive to the impact of my choices on the world around me. Caring matters. Compassionate awareness matters. Acknowledging mistakes matters.  I mean… I killed a spider this morning… as killings go, fairly inconsequential and commonplace… but… I bet it seemed like a big deal to that fucking spider. :-\ I think I’ve come some distance as a human being, from the point at which I started life; I have mixed feelings about killing that spider.

Wow. Start the morning with angst-y angry ranting? Why, yes thanks, I think I shall. <sigh> All too human. I think I’ll have a second coffee… and begin again. 😉

I start feeling complacent, every now and then, after things seem easy for a while, after very little drama over a longer time, after a few days or weeks or even – no kidding – months without a significant reminder of the chaos and damage. Things “in here” are generally fairly tidied up these days, in the sense that I am more resilient, more balanced, less prone to storms and outbursts, less easily rocked from a place of calm. Day-to-day, things are… just days. Moments. Experiences of a life well-lived.

Not what I expected to see.

Tuesday night I came home while daylight lingered. Needing a moment of emotional rest and calm after a somewhat difficult day in the office, I went to the patio door. My cushion was waiting for me, left right there from the morning. I opened the blinds expecting my tidy patio and potted garden, and beyond that, lawn, meadow, marsh… and between the patio and the view, my bird feeders on their pole. Which is mostly sort of what I saw, only… the pole was bent low, laid flat to the ground, which… is not at all the expected functioning position of poles, generally, nor this one specifically, ever, at all. It’s not a bit peculiar that I was taken by surprise, or angry – but I was unprepared for the shit storm of emotions that hit me almost instantly. Rage. Real fury. Resentment. As the anger built to an unmanageable level, the frustration, the learned helplessness, the disappointment, all capitalized on the suddenly volatile moment to pile on. Breaking shit is not an option. Lashing out physically is not an option. I took a photograph of the wrecked pole, mostly because I didn’t really know what else to do. Then I cried. I cried and cried like a child who realizes they’ve misplaced their very most favorite toy. I cried like a grieving lover. It was all quite excessive and somehow inappropriate to the moment. I didn’t care about that, and wouldn’t recognize it for some time, much later in the evening.

All of the tears that I haven’t cried over all of the shitty things going on in the world lately finally found their way out of my eye holes. I wept. I let myself have the moment. I indulged the momentary falsehood that it was truly only about a pole. Tears I can handle. I’ve cried a river of them. I’ve wiped them dry with a million miles of tissues. Tears fall. Tears dry. Moments pass.

The rage was harder to handle. Anger terrifies me, even my own.  Even to allow it for a moment, felt like it teetered on the edge of criminal to feel it at all. Anger is such a human emotion. We teach ourselves so little about it. Isn’t that strange? I was unprepared, in spite of putting in so much practice and work, generally, on emotion, and emotional intelligence. Experiencing rage still feels terrifying, and part of what is frightening about it (for me), is how powerful it feels. In that moment, I really wanted to lash out, I really wanted to take action – action has power. I wanted to destroy everything within reach, to “make a mark” on the world, to punish whoever had wronged me, to assign blame, and force “rightness” on my circumstances. I live a life in which I have surrounded myself with precious things, delicate breakables, art, porcelain, glass – and because these things are precious to me, I have learned to stop when I am raging. Just stop. No action. Self-inflicted, self-enforced inaction. Inaction that gives me a moment to recognize that beneath the rage is… the hurt. The sadness. The disappointment. The loss. The tears. I can cope fairly easily with tears. I have so little sense of having tools to deal with rage… but I know this about me; I will not break my beautiful precious trinkets of material life. They hold my memories. The preciousness of breakable things stalls my rage. It has been tool, system, and practice enough to be adequate for a long time…

It’s time to learn and grow. Is life’s next lesson about anger? Is it time? I admit to having avoided it so far, by creating circumstances in which it can rarely surface – some seriously masterful avoidance. I live in my own place, alone, so my relationships rarely cause me anger; there is no opportunity. I live fairly simply in a space carefully managed to limit “incidental anger” from stubbed toes, or wacked shins. I limit my exposure to sensationalized media reporting. I end social relationships with people who seem inclined to provoke me deliberately. I avoid being out in the world if my PTSD is flaring up. I refrain from becoming emotionally invested in the workplace to the point that passion could erupt over points of disagreement. When anger, or issues to do with it, come up in therapy, I carefully back away and don’t bring it up next time. Avoidance, however, is a short-term coping skill, not a long-term growth strategy.

I’ve set this one aside twice now, when I got to the chapter on anger. I haven’t been ready.

I guess it’s time to take another step down an unlit path. It’s been an extraordinary journey, these last 4 years or so. There’s more to learn. More opportunity to grow. More work to be done to become the woman I most want to be. I dislike the experience of being surrounded by precious irreplaceable breakable objects, trembling with barely restrained rage, until fury finally finds its release as tears because no action is “safe”. There’s probably a better way. 🙂 It’s time to face the woman in the mirror, anger and all, and give her a hand with this one.

The commute is usually standing room only. Plenty of seats on the morning of a Day Without Women.

Apropos of anger, yesterday was “Day Without a Woman” on International Woman’s Day. A lot of women stepped away from their roles in the workplace, at home, just generally. Allies and supporters and feminists of all sorts, too. It was a powerful demonstration, probably more meaningful to those of us demonstrating, than those who obstruct us, or who fail to recognize the fundamental humanity of women. Still powerful. That’s an anger thing, I guess, that feeling of power. How can I best harness the power of my anger – without truly understanding it? I don’t think I can. So. It is, perhaps, long overdue to deal with the rage.

At this point, the anger is academic, it is a quiet calm morning and it’s time to consider the here, the now, and the day ahead of me. It’s time to begin again. 🙂