Archives for posts with tag: the destructive power of anger

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. ūüôā 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. ūüôā

I woke with a headache this morning, and I woke several times during the night, returning to sleep with relative ease. The headache matters, and it is necessary to maintain awareness of the impact of disrupted sleep over time; my reactivity tends to increase over days and weeks of disrupted sleep. The headache, like much of my day-to-day pain, also doesn’t ‘matter’ in the sense that I make an effort not to be limited by it or allow it to call my shots, this can also put me on the path of lost balance, and lost perspective; I try so hard my own frustration becomes the bigger issue. Menopause or not, it seems I am lingering at the gates of Hormone Hell, too – or at least driving around that neighborhood in circles, lost. Night sweats. Hot flashes. Irritability. Difficulty maintaining a comfortable emotional connection to another.

Today is still an entirely new day, all potential, choices not yet made, reality not yet fully determined… I will do my best with it. Making the best choices in each moment is not the easy thing it sounds like it could¬†be; I observe that whether something ‘sounds easy’ sometimes depends as much on the words as their meanings, which can be misleading. (Is there anything at all in my experience that has no potential whatsoever to be misleading?)

My coffee is good – and it was easy. I find myself being critical with myself, momentarily, for ‘not drinking it fast enough’ as I yawn through the morning, thus far. Day-to-day I can be ludicrously hard on myself, demanding far more of me than makes sense, or is even needed. The damage I’ve done to myself with the constant internal bullying, berating, and lack of satisfaction or encouragement has piled up over the years, and become part of the chaos and damage I fight now. I take a moment to adjust, to back up off of pressuring myself to drink coffee faster, and remind myself¬†how lovely a leisurely morning, unhurried, unpressured, really feels.

Yesterday was challenging, not horrible, and had some wonderful moments to it. The finish was difficult; I was volatile after therapy and tired, and that¬†can make me pretty unapproachable. People who like and love me still make the attempt and while I love that people are willing, and value me that much, it comes with risks and I ended up in tears over something fairly mundane, and feeling hurt and angry on a level that far exceeded what the event could possibly require. I took a walk in the night, enjoying the feeling of the icy rain pelting me for a couple of miles, and filling my lungs with the fresh cold air. Self-soothing, for me, often requires a combination of exercise, distraction, meditation, and distance that a long walk really captures; I sometimes feel as if I am ‘walking away from what is hurting me’. I contemplated how difficult it must be for my traveling partner to discover through the outcome alone that I am sometimes not as strong as I appear. It is one of the peculiar challenges of pursuing change and healing; change happens fast, but I am making active choices and using verbs, and my demeanor and affect do not always give away the contents of this fragile vessel, or the effort involved in being the change.

I made the wise choice to take a sick day yesterday, with some urging from my partner. I’m glad I did – and I think it sucks that the world, in general, benefited thereby, and he still ended up dealing with the grief and bullshit, himself. That seems particularly unfair. (I keep ‘checking the contract’ for life and living – there’s nothing at all about things being fair; this, too, seems unfair. lol)

Today’s okay so far. I’m tired. I have a headache. The increase in my Rx pain medication has been helping, but doesn’t really kick in for about an hour after I wake. I hurt, and I am patient with myself about that, at least so far.

Today is a good day to be less hard on myself. Today is a good day to remember that acknowledging where I am is necessary to get somewhere better. Today is a good day for good choices, and mindfulness that the good choices themselves have value, whatever the outcome. Today is a good day to remember free will is shared equally; we are each having our own experience…

Love in the World

Love in the World

…I wrote those words as the yelling started in another room, not even 6:00 am. OPD. (For the unfamiliar, that’s ‘other people’s drama’ – but often those ‘other people’ are those dearest to me). It wasn’t the raised voices of anger as much as the raised voices of frustration, hurt, and confusion, and it conveyed powerful stress in seconds. I add to my own stress and anxiety my concerns about the safety of the household in my absence while I am at work; today suddenly feels less safe, and less secure. I haven’t seen¬†physical violence directed at people by anyone living here, but one member of the household is a destructive force to be reckoned with when upset nonetheless – and I do mean seriously destructive. The destruction of several door frames, doors, drawers, dishes, and a 25 year-old mahogany sideboard I lovingly hauled around the world for years testify to that. Many of my paintings can’t be¬†hung because falling to the floor would damage them, and the risk is too high; doors have been slammed so hard here that paintings popped right off the walls and crashed to the floor. I don’t like discussing it, but it is real, and it is part of my experience; these are, in fact, experiences I promised myself I would not endure again. It’s wanton destruction of an utterly inappropriate nature (from my perspective), and it’s hard to determine whether anything at all is sacred; setting explicit boundaries about what is sacred to me hasn’t been effective. The sudden lack of household calm says a lot, and for me at least it amounts to a substantial loss of quality of life¬†because¬†it recurs with regularity. I dislike emotional weaponry; it tends to be both imprecise and very damaging, regardless who it is pointed at, everyone in the vicinity is feels the impact. This morning it’s my traveling partner who is ‘down range’, but we’re both stressed and concerned, and we’re both affected. I will go to work anxious and trembling, and my traveling partner will be working at home, dealing with his stress and trying to remain calm and productive after the difficulties of the morning. Doubtless it will continue to stress and trouble everyone involved for some hours, and my writing feels constrained and self-conscious as I struggle with my words. I know¬†from experience that secrecy begets continued problem behavior, as well as isolating me from support and the comfort of being heard;¬†I struggle on, hoping to say only enough to feel heard, and to be accurate about my own experience of the moment.

This moment is harder than others. I don’t know what’s next, at all. Also hard. This too shall pass. ¬†I will continue to do my best, practice my Big 5, take care of me, treat others well, make the best choices I can, and hope that these are ‘enough’, somehow.

Today is still a good day to be less hard on myself. It’s still a good day to do my best. Today is still a good day to take care of me, and make good choices – hard choices, too, some days. We are each having our own experience, sure, but we’re all in this together. Treating each other well may be the one thing we can all easily do to save the world from our own destructive power.

What do you see when you look at the patterns in your life; your choices, or circumstance?

What do you see when you look at the patterns in your life; your choices, or  your circumstances?