Changing my relationship with Anger

I was originally going to call this post, Leaving Anger Behind, except that isn’t what I’m going. I am not going to pretend or lie to myself that I would ever be completely free from anger. That would be a little naive of me. As someone born with the ability to feel things so incredibly, intensely1, I need to accept the fact that this ‘gift’ includes the entire spectrum of emotions from elation to devastation2.

This is an endeavour that I’ve attempted before, and I thought I had succeeded… but of course, I didn’t anticipate going through a trauma like I did in the last two years. I didn’t prepare to deal with healing from a trauma3 before it happened; I was ill-equipped to come out of it with as much poise and grace as I would have liked.

Oh but the lessons I’ve learned! So. Many. Lessons.

Take my relationship with anger; for example. Anger is this… temptress… it uses it’s hardness seductively to make you think that it will serve as a good shield to protect you from things that might hurt you. Oh and how it works; it works really well. What it doesn’t tell you? What it doesn’t tell you is that it also shields you from the most beautiful moments, when you are vulnerable enough to feel the kind of joy that comes from being completely real with someone. When both of your shields are down, and you’re able to look at each other with all of your battle wounds and just be4. It doesn’t tell you about missing out on that, and you don’t realize it until that moment is long gone.

Now I may have missed moments already, but I’m in a much better place now to see any future moments that may come my way. I didn’t get to this place on my own. This place where I can finally say I am no longer angry5. I am incredibly blessed to have the most amazing friends who spent many hours listening to me when I needed someone to listen, and holding me when I needed to be held, and working out with me when I needed to let off some steam. There is no way I would have made it to this point if it weren’t for any of you6.

I digress.

It may seem obvious, but it wasn’t always obvious to me; the most important thing I’m practising is how to avoid getting angry with myself for things that really aren’t my fault, nor are/were in my control. Also important, is not getting angry at myself even if something is/was within my control. I know I won’t always succeed7, and because that falls under the category of ‘things I can’t control’; if it happens, I just have to recognize what’s happening, accept it and forgive myself rather than getting upset that it happened ‘yet again’. It’s a practice that’s easier said than done. Until you’ve practiced it enough times that it just becomes easy, and oh-so rewarding.

It’s been nice being able to come across a situation that – just last month – would have had me spiraling into all of the negative thoughts that have kept me down, but to instead be able to take a breath and let it go. Sometimes, I have to vent to a friend first and talk things out before I can let go, and that’s okay too8.

I’m not saying anger doesn’t have it’s place in a person’s life. I’m just saying it has no place in mine.

Photo unrelated, though somehow related. Taken while out on a hike with my brother and his/the family dog, Drogo. Follow me on instagram: @fragileheart
Footnotes:
  1. double adjectives because that’s now intense it is[]
  2. or whatever extreme you’d prefer[]
  3. how could I know I would be traumatised by such things?[]
  4. Oh right, I’m not writing a poem right now. Heh. I got carried away with my analogy[]
  5. or depressed for that matter[]
  6. there is also therapy but um, I actually pay him so…[]
  7. because surprise, I’m human![]
  8. thankfully, it’s okay to my friends too – THANK YOU!![]

I can take it, trust me.

A lot of people are afraid. They’re so afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings that they never stop to think that they might be helping that person by telling them the truth.

I’m taking a break from breast cancer awareness to talk about something that has affected me since I was able to make friends1.

I’m a very understanding person; provided you give me something to understand. If not I’m not going to assume things for you. If someone doesn’t want to be my friend, I think they should just tell me. I don’t think they should pretend to be my friend when it suits them and then ignore me when I try and make contact.

I will admit I’m horrible at keeping in touch and I shouldn’t expect to be able to talk to someone whenever it tickles my fancy. But replying to an email is not that difficult, even if I haven’t called in months. Besides, why should I be the only one to call – its not like they’ve made any effort! I’ve left hundreds of combined voicemail, email and facebook messages for them and its more than what they’ve done. I think I at least deserve an answer when I ask you whether the reason you aren’t coming to a party I’m hosting is the distance.

I’m sure there’s something that irks me more than being ignored, but not at this very moment. And maybe I’m over-reacting and they’ll get around to responding to me eventually but they were quick enough to decline the invitation online; I was hoping for similar speed in a response. Maybe it’ll be easier if people know that I can take ‘rejection’ as long as you’re not crass about it. You can tell me you don’t want to be my friend, just don’t tell me you think I smell like puke2.

I don’t believe that everyone should be best friends with each other, but I do believe that everyone deserves to know the truth.

What do you think?

Image ©an untrained eye

Footnotes:
  1. ok, maybe its not that early but you get my point right?[]
  2. if I don’t, if I do then you can tell me that but that doesn’t happen… very often[]

Can you be angry without being agressive?

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I used to have a pretty bad temper. A temper so bad, you’d think I had horrible parents. And that couldn’t be further from the truth; my parents are wonderful, caring, kind and extremely understanding people. Naturally, they bore an evil (teenage) daughter who only realised the error of her ways when she met a boy from a faraway land. But this isn’t about our story.

As someone who always chose to be aggressive in the past (not that I knew it at the time but I’ve since learned that it is a choice you make), I understand how easy it seems sometimes. But as someone who now always chooses (or at least tries to choose) to be patient, I can assure you it’s much easier to remain calm. You feel less stressed, you get less headaches, you get heartburn less often, you get sick less often, you can probably give up smoking more easily (I say probably because I’m not a ‘true’ smoker so I can’t say for sure) and people will always find it pleasant to be around you.

I know it’s hard to remain calm when someone else is already shoving their anger down your throat, but you can do it. Just take a few seconds, take a few deep breaths, and think about something that always makes you happy. While this can result in the other person getting even angrier than before, the hope is that they too will calm down so you can both deal with the situation like the adults that you are. The key is not to condescend them in anyway while you remain calm. Besides if you’re doing that you’re being passive-aggressive, and look there’s that ‘a’ word again.

There are a lot of reasons why I decided to write a post on this issue. I drive almost every day, and I get to watch road rage rear it’s ugly head for the stupidest reasons. Even online, people feel the need to express themselves aggressively when they find someone with an opinion different to theirs. I’m sure I could go on with examples but I’d really rather not.

I’m not saying that we can’t ever get angry, there is a time and a place to be angry. But you don’t have to be aggressive in showing it. Why can’t you be angry without yelling? Or why can’t you be angry without demeaning someone? Why can’t you be angry without disrespect someone? There are ways to be angry, and show your anger without being aggressive. This was a really hard lesson for me to learn, and I’m still trying to gather my thoughts on how I was able to make the change in my behaviour. But I think that it’s something that’ll be worth your while to explore, even if only for your peace of mind.

How do you feel about aggression?

Temper

WARNING: It’s a long one!

I used to have a terrible temper. Tantrums all over the place. Anyone who knew me when I was younger (so all you Dubai-ans) might possibly remember this about me… but I’ve changed. A lot. Grown up, I guess you could say. I credit a lot of that to him, and I’m extremely happy about it. I used to think that I could never change, and that it was just how I was.

*sigh* The monster reared it’s ugly head this weekend. I don’t necessarily feel wrong in letting it out. In fact, I’m still pretty angry unimpressed with the person about what he did that caused me to explode in the first place…

Lacey’s1 last day was this past Friday so we went out for drinks to celebrate, and after the match, we were all pretty depressed… in particular Martin1 got the look on his face he always does when he gets drunk: emotional, dark, ready to explode at any minute. And I was avoiding talking to him because I don’t like dark, depressed drunks… I myself am a bright and shiny drunk and prefer to stick with fellow bright and shinys. Well, Lacey went over to him because that’s the kind of person she is… and in the midst of the conversation… out of the blue he yells out, “(something)…french fucks” while pointing in the direction of where a group of french people were standing during the match and also kicking the table away from him. Away from him just so happened to be right into me.

I looked up and was about to ask what was wrong when it hit me a second time… and I lost it. I haven’t yelled at anybody like that since I was an angst-filled teen. But it wasn’t just that he hit me. Twice. It was that when he hit me, not once did he apologize. No acknowledgement of physically hurting someone who hasn’t done a thing to him. Someone who he considers a “friend.” And even when I started screaming at him he goes on to accuse me of needing everything to be about me.

In his defense, I found out later on that he had gotten some pretty bad news which gives him every right to be upset.

But I will never, ever defend that kind of behaviour.

I’m upset because he brought that out in me. And because he had the nerve to call me selfish because I felt the need to defend myself against someone I’m supposed to call a friend. I feel I have to decide that it’s just not worth staying friends with someone like that. It would be different if he never made any comments alluding to how sexy he thinks I am when he’s drunk as well. But to be honest, if there’s anything re-connecting has taught me… it’s that NONE of my guy friends from my teens were real friends. Everyone of them who showed any effort in keeping our friendship has confessed to ‘having a crush’ on me on reconnecting.

And even today when he sent me an email at work asking if we’re ‘friends or enemies’… ‘it doesn’t matter but I just want to know’… I felt like I was in a relationship with him. I needed some time to cool down and think about what happened and what I wanted to happen. But now I’ve decided.

There’s only one relationship I want to be in, and that’s with my sweety… and we’re doing wonderfully.

Footnotes:
  1. name has been changed to protect the innocent[][]