Archives for posts with tag: anger

It’s a lot to take in, and I’m not sure what to say about any of it. Terrible. There’s a word. Overwhelming. Unnecessary. Heinous. All words. All fitting. I just… can’t. I feel struck by it. I’m not at all prepared – and perhaps not qualified – to write about any of this. So, perhaps another time? A different topic?

I don’t want to point this out, but it’s a thing, and part of what is making me struggle with all of it so much; in six months, if you read this post, you will have to look up the events of the date to be certain what I am referencing. That sucks beyond what I have words for.

…Any of this should be so much more significant, so unacceptably significant, that it would drive real lasting change. How terrible that it isn’t, and doesn’t.

I was already feeling sort of testy about weird man/woman shit when drama erupted in a relationship totally not my own, still somehow spilling over into my experience, by way of my Traveling Partner supporting a friend going through a bad bit as a failed partnership ends. I’d have been, perhaps, less enraged by how that friend is being treated by an ex… but emotions are what they are, including personal loyalty, and I found myself wondering what I could do to actually help – and offering up “anything” that could be to my Traveling Partner.

I’m still angry this morning. Maybe it was the Facebook post about the news article on “stealthing”, maybe that’s what got my ire up? That’s some unsavory wrong-headed bullshit, all by itself, and enough to make any woman angry – even the suggestion of it, and reading the article, was enough to anger me. Ancient rage. The sort that does not stifle easily. For some reason, in April of this year it seems a popular topic for news articles. That bothers me too.

A pleasantly distracting picture of the first spring goslings. 🙂

The scene on the bus ride home last night, though, irritates my consciousness in this whole other “see your therapist soon!” sort of way, like picking at a scab, or scratching a bug bite… I feel very much that I should not “pick at this”, unfortunately that’s often the rallying cry of “this is some root cause to a bit of your madness, but let’s not deal with all that now” that pushes things into dark corners of chaos for the later “amusement” of my personal demons. It wasn’t an uncommon scene, either… a young woman and a young man riding the bus together…

He was tickling her. She said “stop”, laughing. The way she said stop, and it came up repeatedly as the bus ride continued, caused more heads than mine to turn. Her laughter, to me, sounded uncomfortable. She said “no”. She said “stop”. She said “quit it”. She said these things firmly. She continued to laugh while she said them, mostly. He kept on. I was very uncomfortable, but in a confined space, like a bus, was an involuntary witness. When my stop approached, I stood at the door, which was immediately next to them, they were facing me. I turned to face her and made eye contact. “This bus ride was very uncomfortable for me.” I said. Heads turned. Conversations stopped. She held my gaze. People were listening.  “You keep telling him no”, I said to her, “but you are laughing. He keeps doing this thing that appears to be violating your boundaries, you keep telling him no – and you keep laughing. If you are enjoying this, why are you telling him no? If you are not enjoying this, why are you complicating your effort to set boundaries by laughing?” I waited. She looked uncomfortable and said nothing. He finally spoke up for her “she’s having a good time.” He said it firmly with conviction, he looked resentful of the intrusion. I turned to him as the bus pulled forward from the last signal light. I looked into his eyes for a long minute before saying slowly, with forced calm,  “I wasn’t talking to you, and it isn’t up to you to decide if she’s having a good time. It is up to you to decide if you will respect her boundaries and require clear communication of consent.” I turned my back on him deliberately, and turned back to her. The bus doors opened, and I felt my eyes fill with tears I didn’t intend to share, and only enough time to say “Your choice of behavior is teaching him that it is acceptable to violate your boundaries.” I can hope she heard me, but I’ll probably never know. I walked home sad and angry. Sad because this bullshit goes on all the time. Angry with the woman in the mirror because it’s my fault, too. Angry because it took men who understood consent to bring it to my awareness. Angry because I even had to be persuaded and cajoled into taking care of myself, into learning to set clear boundaries firmly, into learning that my agency actually matters, and that my consent is sacred and must remain inviolate – and is my own. I had to learn not to laugh uncomfortably any time I said “no”. I still struggle with these things, and that is one source of my anger.

I got home angry. The addition of needless break-up drama in other lives that matter (don’t they all?, isn’t that why it’s so hard to turn away?) didn’t help ease my simmering fury. It was an evening that touched on a lot of my chaos and damage. It all felt very personal. The pendulum swung from anger at a human experience of one sort, to a very different sort – that ugliness whereupon people behave as though they have some entitlement to what is not their own, in the midst of breaking up. Stealing things, tit for tat bullshit, and “getting even”. Ugly. I am so fucking sick to death of people behaving in these ways. We are not each other’s property. We are not chattel. We are not entitled to some particular outcome in life, which when deprived of it we are then entitled to steal, to break shit, or to commit assault or murder. Your relationship ended? Get the fuck over that shit, and walk on. Leave it all behind. Don’t chase after each other, poisoning the future. Treat each other well in celebration of love that once was. Vengeance? That’s bullshit. Walk away. Your life and your heart matter most, all the rest are just the material trappings of existence. It’s hard to stand idly by while a friend is robbed, and my anger at the pettiness and drama of his ex acting out surged again and again as the evening wore on… but not because of him (or even her, although her behavior has certainly cost her my respect, and any potential for friendship in the future; I’m just not okay with that behavior). I stayed angry because the events of the evening touched me – me personally, my own heart, and I am having my own experience.

More goslings, and a moment of perspective.

I’m fortunate to have a strong, reciprocal, boundary-respecting, loving relationship with my Traveling Partner. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it is my first relationship in which my boundaries are respect and my explicit consent is required, just generally and day-to-day. When we got together, I was almost 50. It’s more than a little uncomfortable to be aware of that, and of the years of internal struggling and suffering that preceded it. I stayed angry through much of the evening, because I am still so very angry with myself, with my circumstances, and with all those preceding relationships in which my agency was not valued, my boundaries were not respected, and my consent was violated regularly. I am angry now, because I spent so much time then laughing uncomfortably, and waiting for unpleasant moments to just… end. I am angry because I have been punished for taking care of myself, for setting boundaries, for walking away, and for speaking up for myself. I am angry because it took so long to choose to change – and to understand that indeed, I had to change before my circumstances could. Even then, there were verbs involved.

Evenings are short during the week. My temper simmered over dinner. I continued to fret and stew over drama in the shower, and as the evening began to reach its end. I didn’t really want to go to bed angry… I wished my Traveling Partner well, and logged off of devices, and sat down on my meditation cushion in front of the open patio door. I let the cool marsh breeze wrap me the scent of meadow flowers. I let everything else fall away, and just took time to breathe, and to be, and to listen to the rain fall. Over some unmeasured time, I found my way back to the present moment, content and calm. It wasn’t that my anger no longer existed, it simply found a welcome home within my own heart, and some understanding. Calm anger. Weird. I went to bed and found sleep while listening to rain tapping at the window.

Sure. I still feel angry about the things I am angry about. There are plenty of things worth feeling angry about. This morning I sip my coffee also feeling content that I am able to put things in context and gain understanding from them, over time. I can grow. I can choose change. I can be more removed from drama than I once was. I can offer support to people close to me, without being destroyed in their dumpster fire. I can heal. I can walk on.

I can begin again. So can you. 🙂

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. 🙂

Somehow, the night was not so stifling hot that it prevented sleep; I slept well and deeply. I’m sure the steps taken during the unexpectedly busy work day to drink enough water, manage calories, take medication on time and stretch in place regularly were building blocks for feeling well-rested this morning. Some practices seem pretty obvious, and the outcome predictably successful.

Toward the end of the day, I found myself feeling cross, discontent, and moving in the direction of simmering anger, for no obvious reason. Practices regarding strong emotions, like anger, are sometimes harder for me to master. If there’s nothing to be angry about, why would I poke at that sleeping bear? Shouldn’t I squelch that and move on? Certainly that’s one heavily reinforced approach, culturally, especially if you happen to be female. Anger seems to be pretty potent – and off-putting. People do not want to exist alongside anger, most particularly if directed their way. What if I am legitimately angry about something that could easily provoke any rational person to anger – what then? Feed it, it grows, but hide it and it festers… I don’t understand anger.

Sweet relief and contentment often seem just beyond some complicated moment.

Sweet relief and contentment often seem just beyond some complicated emotional puzzle.

As the evening played out, it was quickly apparent that I was not angry ‘about’ anything obvious. I was hot. I had a headache. I have a couple lingering itchy spider bites. I wasn’t in pain so didn’t take pain meds that have been pretty routine for some time now (probably the source of the headache). It was a busy work day with a coworker out sick. The anger I was feeling was not the sort of focused if-then-because anger that I feel when someone treats me badly, or takes an action with predictably poor consequences. Was it even actually ‘anger’? Well, it sure could have been; I walked home through that emotional fog of irritation and fed it with my thoughts. Anger was almost inevitable, but there was nothing in my actual experience of the moment causing it – I was creating it from my thoughts, using my physical experience as a sort of spring-form pan in which to contain and justify it. 😦 Unpleasant.

Practicing new practices let's me try things until I find what works for me.

Practicing new practices let’s me try things until I find what works for me.

Practices for managing and defusing anger are numerous. I don’t generally understand them well, either. I mean…if my anger is real, why should I have to squash it and not be heard? If my anger is illusory, why is it so difficult to just let it go? Venting works for some people, and it feels very gratifying…but having a disinhibiting brain injury can easily put me on the path of obsessing over anger, becoming mired in it, or making something small a much bigger deal. Last night felt like a win. I got home, and decided I would most certainly deal with my anger gently and courteously – don’t I deserve to be treated well by myself, above all? First, though, I committed to taking care of practical matters that I know support longer term wellness on multiple levels, and benefit from not being delayed. I had a cool shower, drank plenty of water, had a bite of dinner that met my nutritional needs, did the dishes, did what I could to cool the apartment down after the 93 degree day, meditated, did some yoga… and found that I was simply no longer feeling anything I could call ‘anger’. I had ‘let it go’ without actively seeking to do so and realized that something that often makes ‘letting it go’ hard for me is the sense that I am being dismissed and not heard. Well…I didn’t do that, last night. I heard me. I considered my needs, and simply determined that the anger would be dealt with appropriately, along with other needs, in order of priority – and I didn’t make it the highest priority. When I finally got to it, it was more a matter of ‘I don’t really care for this experience. I could do some things differently.’

It's a journey without a map, some of it paved, all of it built on choices.

It’s a journey without a map, some of it paved, all of it built on choices.

One very nice thing about living alone right now is that there is no confusion whatsoever about ‘angry at…’. I think I am figuring out that ‘remote anger’ – for example, being angry in a visceral way over a story I read in the news – is entirely useless stress that may hold the power to motivate me to action, but the toll it takes on my experience, and my physical wellness is not at all worth it.  Anger at what is farther from my immediate experience feels safer than being angry at someone dear to me, or at some circumstance close to home. I guess that’s obvious. Handling anger in way that allows me to express myself comfortably without launching emotional weapons of mass distraction is something I would like to be very skilled at. I think before I will become skilled at handling anger, and making appropriate limited use of its power, I will need to learn to mute the pointless fruitless anger of my mind in motion – the anger that is pretty much just entirely imagined, built off the chaos and damage, fed with thoughts and assumptions and petty hurts or changing moods. I don’t think doing so by denying myself my own support and understanding is effective; it hasn’t worked for me so far. Last night worked out well, though. When I sat down and gave what I thought was bugging me a moment of thought, it turned out I wasn’t actually ‘angry’ at all. Frustrated, sure. Uncomfortable in the heat, yep. Fighting off a headache was also a factor. Anger? Not really a thing. If I had been living in a more social domestic setting, though, I may not have been able to get through to the part where I worked that out without causing a lot of stress or drama reacting to my internal experience (other people work through their emotions more quickly than I sometimes seem able to, particularly strong negative emotions). Clearly – still practicing. Still a student. There is still work to be done, and a journey ahead of me. It’s a fine time to live alone, untroubled by the casual hurts caused to others by my lack of emotional skill. lol

I ended the evening quite pleasantly, in conversation with my traveling partner. I may become a fan of using the phone, again – that’s how awesome it is just  hearing the sound of his voice in the evening, talking over things that matter in a gentle and pleasant way. My birthday is coming. It matters (perhaps too much) that he is thinking of me. The conversation was delightful and productive.  At one point something about our discussion brushed ever so lightly past something that held the potential to rouse anger – and I observed the experience, and the reaction, and didn’t act on it. Instead I stayed on course with the conversation, and made a note for myself to take care of me and take another look at that later. I am learning that my anger is truly my own, independent of whatever might seem to cause it. Directing my reaction at the assumed cause doesn’t actually seem to result in resolution… Strangely, taking that moment to breath and set it aside for later – rather than trying to force myself to ‘let it go’ over my own resentment at being dismissed, or acting on it in the moment – seems to work nicely for me. When our conversation ended, I reflected on that moment when my anger began to rise up, and easily saw that I wasn’t angry at all, I was struggling with unaddressed hurt feelings over something so subjective and internal that it would have been entirely inappropriate to demand satisfaction from some other being. It was an interesting moment of perspective.

I am tending the garden of my heart with greater care.

I am tending the garden of my heart with greater care.

I matter more [to me] than my anger. Taking care of me well often eases what feels like anger ‘about’ something entirely unrelated. I don’t think I have any real ‘answers’ about the anger puzzle…I’m not even sure I have all the pieces. What I do have, though, is the memory of a busy productive day, a lovely quiet evening, and a sweet loving conversation with a human being as dear to me as I am to myself – all entirely unspoiled by anger. 🙂 Win and good.