Archives for posts with tag: anger management

I am sipping the cold remains of my second morning coffee, abandoned earlier, on my way into the garden. It’s less than ideally satisfying, as cold coffees go, neither properly cold, nor at all warm. I don’t much care; relative to other concerns it is a meaningless detail. Today, I’m feeling the weight of Memorial Day; it’s been a very long time since Memorial Day was any sort of celebration, for me. It is a day to remember the fallen: lives lost to war, lives lost to violence, a moment to contemplate the wasted human potential sacrificed to the causes of various governments… some of those lacking in moral high ground of any kind. I don’t find it something to celebrate. Instead, I honor those I’ve lost, and the lives lost that matter to others that I will never know. It’s simply my way.

I spent yesterday afternoon in my studio, painting. I’ve commented in other places that I am less likely to paint when I am content, fulfilled, happy, or satisfied. It’s an emotional experience that requires emotional impetus, and emotional momentum, and, for me, a way to communicate what I lack the words for. Make of that what you will. Honestly? I dislike “watching the world burn” in these problematic, chaotic times… but in my studio, and so many elsewhere, these are conditions that have a lot of potential to create great art. (Fingers crossed that anyone is around to appreciate any of it… later on.)

I am feeling a bit glum, and a bit angry. How is it 2021 and sexism is still a thing? Or the chronic condescension of patriarchy? How are so many people unwilling or unable to see the strong connection between sexism & misogyny – and literally all of the other evils of our society? (How many racists do you know who are not also sexist? How many people filled with hatred toward immigrants are not also sexist? How many elected idiots are not also sexist?) Sexism isn’t even limited to men, for fuck’s sake; there are ever so many women willing to carry that apologist torch to maintain this system that burns us all. This is where my head is at today; perplexed and sorrowful about all the human relationships tainted by the ugliness of implicit sexism. I’m not feeling open to excuses, explanations, denials, or “othering”, today. I’m not interested in justification, or placating platitudes. Hell, it’s not even connected to Memorial Day sadness – not even a little bit. It’s just where my head is at. I’m in a place in my own life where I no longer feel any obligation whatsoever to placate various men in my life, although out of general consideration, and a lack of interest in their opinion on an experience of sexism they can not share (and largely seem unable to recognize, as a result), I mostly just don’t discuss it, at all. Complicating all this is that is sometimes feels like a conversation with my father. He’s dead, though… hard to “feel heard”. So the anger comes and goes, not unlike the sorrow of any one Memorial Day; it has a place in my experience, a moment taken to care for it tenderly, to consider and soothe it, and then I move the fuck on to other things. There’s no solution that I reasonably expect to see in my lifetime, and I’ve got things to do.

I put on music to write to, suited to this peculiar headspace, while I sip this cold coffee and practice self-soothing a lifetime of seething rage until I am “okay” once more… For most values of “okay”. It is what it is, I guess. Life is, generally, pretty good. I find it worrisome to see so many people take their anger out into the world, along with a gun… and then end someone else’s life. That seems pretty unfair and entirely inappropriate. I don’t like seeing it become more and more prevalent… but of course, it’s hard to be certain that it has; likes, clicks, views, and the eager drive to capture consumer attention dictates what is in our news feeds every day. The undermining of “truth” – real, factual, documentable truth – has progressed to the point that I’ve even removed satirical and comedic content that uses current events for the foundational content from my feeds. I don’t care to risk my understanding of what is real and true, if I can avoid doing so. I try to stick with content that is fact-checked reliably. It gets harder all the time.

What do we do with all this anger? I feel it, too. I’m trying to find healthy ways to process it, to deal with it, to care for my own tender injured heart without doing damage to someone else’s. Painting is one way. Funny thing; yesterday I was not “painting anger”, although it was among the mixed emotions that pushed me into my studio. I was painting love, and painting hope, and painting joy, and the comfort of emotional safety. I was painting what I want to see in the world and in my own life. I surprised myself with that. Maybe it’s a good practice? I guess I’ll be needing to practice to see what comes of it, over time.

Today, though, is a day for housekeeping, and mindful service to hearth and home. This, too, is “my way”. I’m not sure why Sunday. I could say “the habit of a lifetime” – but it isn’t. Growing up, I most commonly saw housework being done more or less in all the waking hours of our family life – and all of it done by my Mother, or Grandmother, or some other woman, in some other home. I’m fortunate. I get a lot of help from my Traveling Partner. We generally both handle routine basics during the week. I do a few hours of focused housekeeping on the weekend, to get ready for a new week; I like the results, all week long. My partner tackles a lot of the maintenance and upkeep of the house and the technology we live with. It mostly seems a pretty fair division of labor. My resentment, when it occasionally builds up over time, tends to be more about my own shortcomings self-care-wise, and lack of skillful boundary-setting or time management, and discomfort with asking for help when I need it. Recognizing that’s “on me” to resolve, I try to be aware of my bullshit before it spills over elsewhere. No doubt I could improve in this area. lol

I look at my list of chores for today. It’s honestly not “all that”, and definitely doesn’t amount to enough work for any hint of annoyance or resentment or fuss. It’s just a routine Sunday on a long weekend. 🙂 Hell, I may even paint more later – I’m feeling very inspired lately. I don’t suggestion that that is a good thing… it’s just fuel for the artistic fire within.

I glance at the time, and into the bottom of my now-empty coffee mug; it’s time to begin again.

I woke this morning, a bit earlier than planned. It’s fine. I’m not complaining, although I did not sleep well nor deeply last night – nor, perhaps, for enough hours. New “alarm clock”… and it isn’t even an actual “clock”, and there is no “beep-beep-beep” (omg, that infernal beeping that wakes me so irritatingly!). The new alarm wakes me gently with the changing of the lights, coming on quite dim, and slowing becoming brighter. It was lovely. It was so gentle. I woke so… awake. Very pleasant. 🙂 Thus, the titular “enlightenment”, which is mostly alongside some amusement that I never gave something like this a proper try sooner! This… works for me.

Here it is Monday, and I feel sufficiently sorted out, already, to write for a few minutes before work, to sip my coffee and wrap my head around the needs of the day (some chores that I did not get to yesterday are lingering on my to-do list, and I’ve got an errand to run later). Sure, it’s a work day, and busy enough to want to shrug off anything more, but aquarium maintenance is not particularly negotiable; there are living creatures depending on me, and the dahlia tubers remaining to be planted ought not wait much longer (or I risk not seeing them flower this year). Ordinary details, in an ordinary life. 🙂 It’s enough, and I feel contented, and even merry, this morning.

My Traveling Partner has done some lovely work to make our home even more comfortable. It’s all quite wonderful. I sip my coffee, as my smile competes with my headache for my attention. I yield the moment to the smile. 🙂

I meant to take pictures on my walk this morning; there are so many different roses blooming around the neighborhood! Some I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen before, except maybe in a photograph or in a catalog. I didn’t take those pictures – I just walked my mile in the misty almost-but-not-quite rain, smiling.

This isn’t the sort of morning I want to interrupt with sorrows or madness, or anger, or frustration, or, frankly, the news. The news, mostly, isn’t at all good. Some positive sorts of stories do turn up here or there, but the bulk of what is published each day documents the worst of society, the worst of humanity, and the worst of the ways that we do (or don’t do) things to govern ourselves (or, more commonly, other people). There seems to be escalating violence everywhere, some of it small petty aggravating bullshit, but far too much that involves unjustifiable loss of life. It sickens me no less when I consider that there is some small chance that “things aren’t that bad; it’s just what drives views/clicks/likes/shares…”. That’s honestly not a “good quality” to see in our media – or humanity. The more violence is reported in our day-to-day experiences, and shared elsewhere, the more it may tend to give some portion of our society the sense that this is “normal” – and acceptable – and still more violence may occur. Is it contagious? Yeesh. We could do so much better. All of us. Each of us.

I think about anger and sip my coffee. I could also do better. It’s time to begin again.

Most of the time, these days, I’m writing from a contented, emotionally fairly comfortable place. Life is pretty good day-to-day, in spite of the pandemic. I don’t have the terrifying, chronic, so-frequent-as-to-be-routine, issues with emotional volatility that I had 8 years ago. I’m fortunate. I also “work hard” at this. There’s a lot of practice. A lot of very necessary restarts, do-overs, and new beginnings. My results vary. I am entirely 100% made of human, from the soaring heights of the most delightful moments of great joy and celebration, to the lowest depths of the most grim, bleakest darkness, the most despairing moments of sorrow, ennui, and futility. Anger gets a turn in there, somewhere. Frustration, too.

…So does love. So does hope. So does happiness – yep, even happiness gets her day in the sunshine. Doesn’t happen to be today, but today this moment is apparently not about feeling good. At least not right at this very moment, right here, right now, which mostly sucks.

…This too shall pass. It sure will. Eventually. I wonder sometimes if that’s actually a good thing at all. Storms pass. The weather clears up. It’s so tempting to just move on from the things crying out for attention during stormy weather, once the sun is shining again. Something to think about.

I’m not sure what to say “about” this moment, right here. I feel…angry. I… feel hurt. I’m annoyed and frustrated. Not just with myself and my own limitations. Not simply with “not being heard”. It’s complicated. I don’t have a healthy relationship with anger. I am aware of that. Mine or anyone else’s; it’s not specific to whose anger it is. I’m uncomfortable with anger. I’m especially uncomfortable with mine. That’s true. Today, I’m angry with my Traveling Partner. (This may be the first time I’ve written that sentence in this blog, I’m not certain.) I haven’t lost any affection for this human being I am so fond of… I’m just angry right now. I don’t know what to do with/about that… it just is, and I’m incredibly uncomfortable with it. So. Here I am. In a separate space, door closed, headphones on, working on “being alone right now” – which is very tough in a small house during a pandemic. As I said; uncomfortable. I’m not lashing out or escalating. I’m maintaining a self-inflicted disciplined calm, because I just don’t know what else to do with or about my anger. I clearly can’t act on it. I’m also having trouble conversing through it to resolve things with my partner; I start weeping. It makes conversation difficult and needlessly, unproductively, emotional. Not okay – and I’m frankly not at all interested in taking the risk of damaging anything I own by having some tantrum, or finding myself in the middle of further emotional escalation and angry words with my partner. Anger feels like emotional poison to me. I know there are ways to process anger more skillfully than I do. I haven’t finished that work, yet. I am unskilled. It takes a lifetime to process a lifetime of trauma, apparently…Or, at least, I have not, personally found a shortcut to the work that must be done to heal the damage that already was done.

Yelling at one’s partner is mistreatment. I work to avoid raising my voice. I don’t even like “yelling across the house” in a conversational way (seriously seriously dislike that shit – if I’m not in the same room, let’s just not converse, or hey, it’s a small house, join me in a shared space). I’m human, though, and I am more easily provoked than I want to be. If I raise my voice, I’ll also apologize for that, and having accepted responsibility for that behavior, immediately seek to bring the volume back down. It’s hard. I don’t always succeed. I struggle with anger – particularly when I am not feeling heard, or when I am being interrupted, or when I feel mistreated myself, in the face of mockery, insults, or other such (also very human, unpleasant, not okay things, but I particularly detest mockery). I work on not yelling. I ask people in relationships with me to not yell. It’s a choice. Take a kind tone. Speak gently. Choices. Encourage each other. Worthwhile – but, yeah, there are verbs involved, and it takes a lot of fucking practice, and it’s got to actually really matter. No one can do the work for you. Hell, you may even find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to choose to make these changes or do this work without much encouragement or reciprocity. Hard, right? Sometimes, yeah. For anyone.

What makes any of that shit worth it? Why is the ongoing effort – and ongoing frustration with having to make that effort – worth it at all, if it won’t placate an angry partner, or restore the peace, or diminish the chaos, or create calm? …I think about that question a lot, and I’m pretty clear on my answer; it’s about being the woman I most want to be, myself, for myself. I’m okay with feeling anger. I’m not okay with losing my shit and yelling at someone I love. Doesn’t matter how provoked I feel. Doesn’t matter who is “right” or who is “wrong”. Doesn’t matter whether I am in pain, or exhausted, or absolutely 100% justified in my opinion, or my understanding of the situation. What matters is … who do I most want to be, and is my behavior consistent with that standard? How does that woman respond to such a situation? How does that woman maintain her calm, stay balanced, and process strong emotion? I think that over, looking for answers, and a next step to being that woman… more so today, than yesterday. More so tomorrow than I am right now. We become what we practice.

…That’s true for everyone, and everything we choose to practice (or fall into habitually). Just saying. Choices. Practices. Beginnings.

Again.

…I hear the tv in the other room. My partner bravely checked-on me, and expressed his desire to hang out – in spite of the chaos, what matters most is our affection for each other. It’s hard to be vulnerable. Hard to set down the baggage. Sometimes it’s even hard to begin again. I take a breath, and steady myself to take that step…

Too many holiday reports of violence against family members, loved ones, children, partners… fucking hell, where did people ever get the notion that it is acceptable to act with violence upon those that are dear to them?? It sickens me.

…I’ve been angry, even enraged, even felt “righteously” so, such that my own actions seemed to me to be both inevitable & necessary, and also wholly justified (which did not and does not make it true, ever). I also managed not to kill anyone. Just saying. Don’t kill people. Don’t even raise your hand against them in anger.

Notice I haven’t said anything about men killing women, women killing men, etc; violence is not a gendered issue. You can say what you’d like about who kills more of whom, but the simplest of truths is that the life of another human being is not yours to take. Doesn’t matter what your gender is. I don’t seem room to argue with that axiom, myself, and I embrace it. (Don’t talk to me about war, or military force, or the justification for violence under some conditions – unless you, yourself, have been both soldier delivering that military force, and also a civilian experiencing having that force delivered upon you, please; without both perspectives what do you even “know”?)

I’m fairly over violence, generally. I respond poorly even to milder forms of emotional violence (raised voices, a nasty tone, guilt trips, manipulation), particularly after living without it for a while. I don’t mean to say I “never” raise my voice – I sincerely attempt to avoid doing so, and feel incredibly disappointed in myself when I fail to control my volume and my tone adequately well. There’s work involved. It’s work I find worth doing, so I keep at it.

…Then I read another news story that fills me with real horror; an angry parent kills their kids, takes their own life, in the midst of a messy angry divorce, or a partner slays their mate, or someone kills a parent… horrifying. What gave any of them the sense that this was an acceptable choice? How was this okay to do? Why haven’t we “made it stop”?

I sigh. Sip my coffee with a feeling of sadness for a moment. A pause to honor lives lost to the shittiest of excuses; anger. So not okay. There have already been dozens of lives lost in 2021, to familial violence, partner violence, and hate crimes. It’s the fucking 3rd of January. Maybe 2021 can be a year we finally get a grip on our anger and do better – as a species? As a planet? As a global community? Yes, I’d love to see humanity put the brakes on warfare, but more than that? I’d very much love to see humanity stop killing those most dear. I mean, seriously? It seems like a pretty obvious improvement, generally.

We’ll need to begin again, particularly if we hope to change the world…

Warning: this may be disordered ranting, in whole or in part. If you continue, please don’t get sucked into my bullshit and baggage, and know in advance that I’m okay, for most values of okay. Still just 100% made of human.

Well… yesterday was unexpectedly unpleasant. I don’t mean to minimize, and frankly, I don’t do myself any favors to do so; I lost my shit completely, reduced to actually yelling at someone I love in a fit of unrestrained, wholly excessive, temper, frustration, and despair. I let myself down in a remarkable betrayal of a commitment to myself that my living environment be maintained as a “no yelling” space. My neighbors, here, for the first time since I moved in two years ago, have heard me raise my voice in anger. None of that is okay with me. Not any of it. (And no, I don’t think I’m being unreasonable about that; I made myself a promise, for reasons of my own, and now that promise has been broken. It’ll be some time before I’m “over” that.)

It probably matters to have context around it, but I don’t feel emotionally up to a deep dive of the details; I over-reacted to something I could have let go of. I regularly let go of lots of things, and in a wiser moment, I’d have understood to do so then, too. I didn’t, though, because I got caught up in feeling misjudged, feeling misunderstood, and struggling to express my frustration and irritation. I got taken by surprise by my own long-lingering feelings of resentment left over from a relationship I have long since exited, and a few left from early in this one I have, which is so precious to me. It went badly. There were clearly things I was “wrong” about. There were things I wasn’t “wrong” about, but nonetheless handled poorly. It was only a matter of minutes that overwhelming strong emotion got the better of me, and at that point it didn’t matter at all who was right or wrong (how many relationships die on the back of someone’s insistence in being right?), it really only mattered that we treat each other well in that moment. I did not succeed in that requirement. None of this goes to explaining why… I don’t have that for you. I don’t really know.

Failure stings. Disappointment is painful and filled with sorrow and regret. Anger burns in one’s veins, and tells lies to one’s heart. It was a mess. The aftermath wasn’t a huge improvement; my chemistry didn’t reset very quickly. This is telling; my resilience isn’t what it was even a year ago. Why? Why on that is easy; I haven’t been properly caring for myself with the same strict standards that I had been. Again… why? Well, shit… that’s also too easy, and kind of dumb; my Traveling Partner moved in with me, and omg – I love spending time with him. I’m not saying that’s a healthy choice, just very human, and it’s what I’ve done. But… that isn’t all of it.

There’s the pain management piece, too; it’s hard to live in pain. People do, and yeah, a lot people other than me, and a lot of people in more severe pain. The VA, once again, had provided me an Rx solution to use “as needed” (let’s move on from the fact that I suffer from chronic pain), and that drug… um… has “mood altering effects”, and is actually in a category of drug I absolutely should not be taking (for that reason), and this is a known thing, documented in my medical records. My civilian physician even called me at home at some point, expressing concern, reminding me not to take it with specific other medication, and I was already noticing some personal “concerns”. So… I stopped taking it, at all. It’s probably not a coincidence that soon afterward, I became more fragile, less resilient, and then, yesterday, simply “broke”. Fucking hell. I am so vulnerable to poor medical practices, and decisions made without regard to my actual needs, but rather based on some doctor’s comfort with this drug, that drug, or ignorance about the details of my medical history. I am so vulnerable to the demands within relationships to change this, change that, catch up on something, move on from something. I am so vulnerable to my own desire to please, my own need to be comfortable, to have agency, to feel valued. Yesterday’s chaos and damage was brought to me by… me. I overlooked the considerable impact likely from discontinuing that medication, and doing so in the context of not maintaining – very strictly and consistently – my meditation practice in the way I know I must. Tons of this is about my choices, and I’ve got to be accountable for it. I can do better.

I fled the house in hysterics, and despair, and had no business driving a car in the condition I was in at the time. “Driving while crying” is an impairment of note, and I sought somewhere close to stop. It’s not like I had someplace to go in mind. I found an empty parking lot, backing up to trees, and a verdant hillside. I parked. I wept. I sobbed. I wailed. I let go, and had that painful moment of altogether losing my shit on this whole other level. No lie. There was no dignity in those moments. My Traveling Partner tried to heal the wound, texting me, pleading with me to be safe, to care for myself… to come home and just talk. I didn’t, for some time, have that in me. I’m still glad he tried.

Eventually, my tears dried, and I drove home. We went to breakfast. I was still fragile. We gently sidestepped all the emotional landmines we could. We shared the day together. I did my best. He did his best. Eventually… the day ended, gently. I went to bed and enduring nightmares of great dragons attacking civilization, and the persistent frustration of The Party People playing loud music and flashing lights, even knowing that the fucking dragons would thereby know our location. Fucking idiots. Then there were those who kept insisting that the dragons were as scared of us as we are of them, and if we’d just leave them alone… oh, hey, another one of those, torn to bits, and consumed. Well, then. Fuck. Rough night. I survived.

…Rough life. So far, I’ve survived.

I woke this morning, grateful to see the dawn, and that the house around me was not the charred ruin of my dreams. Had coffee with my partner, grateful for his love. I’m still pretty volatile, vulnerable to feeling easily hurt, struggling with my feeling of being disappointed with myself. (No, it doesn’t much matter that it may have been, again, an Rx I was given by a doctor, putting me at risk. I am collateral damage in “the opioid war”, as are a lot of other chronic pain sufferers. Doctors don’t want to prescribe them, even to very low-risk-of-abuse patients, even when we’re talking about very low dose, very mild drugs; liability concerns, more than patient care, in my experience. People get hurt not being able to ease their pain. No one much cares about that, so long as we can put a lovely “we’re winning the drug war!” headline out there.)(Sorry, my personal bitterness is showing there, that’s baggage I need to deal with.)

So… another day, another chance. Another time in my life when I have to just admit that the drugs available for pain management don’t work for me, for a variety of reasons, and learning to live more or less graciously with pain is what’s left over. Didn’t I already know that? Why do I keep trying?

I finish my coffee. Frown at this post, already annoyed with it, for no particular reason beside “failure”. Pretty sick of that right now. I guess I’ll let that go, shower, dress, and begin again. :-\