For many years I was afraid to be angry; truly angry. I knew I wouldn’t lose control because I am not someone who does that. But I was terrified that I would be shunned or rejected for expressing feelings of anger or rage. It’s not that I didn’t want to express them, I did, I just didn’t know how to. The only examples I had seen of people who were angry were an unregulated rage. I’d seen people break things, yell and say mean words. I didn’t want to do those things, but I knew that that was unlikely since I am someone who is mindful and controlled. When I got into my 30’s I became a mother and my patience was pushed to the limit. There are times that I get angry and I want to yell, and sometimes I do. I’ve thrown my phone on the floor and accidentally broken it because I was mad and frustrated. I am learning what my triggers are and how I can better manage anger, but it’s difficult to do it.
I also am reticent to express my anger to people when they make me angry. I don’t want them to feel bad, and I am fearful that they will invalidate my feelings. I know that logically I have a right to be angry, but when the other person comes back and becomes defensive I often cower and believe that I do not have the right to have those angry feelings. Everyone has a right to feel what they feel, myself included. I’m working on acknowledging that and being able to express my anger without fear of being judged. I don’t want people to be upset, but (like me) everyone has a right to their feelings. I cannot control what other people say or do, but I can control my reactions to those things. It’s important to remember that we all have a right to our feelings, no matter how uncomfortable those emotions are. Now that I am being treated for my mental illnesses and I have the right diagnoses, I am better able to function and accept myself as the person I am. That person sometimes gets mad and that is perfectly okay. It might not be pleasant, the person on the other end of those angry feelings might react in a way that is hard for me to cope with, but the point is that I can cope with it and I used to believe that I could not.
I want to be healthy, I want to be able to feel all my feelings and not feel guilty or bad for having them. Why should I have to feel guilty on top of already feeling another feeling? I know that guilt is engrained in my genetics since I am Jewish and now a mother, which makes me a Jewish mother, but I don’t have to take that guilt on as my own. I can recognize that it’s there and choose how I interact with that feeling. That’s another thing I am learning as I go through life: I do not have to engage or react to every single thing that comes my way. I do not owe an explanation for each little minutia that happens. When I feel like a clarification is needed, I can provide that to the person on the other end of my feelings, but I do not owe anyone anything, and neither do you for that matter. It’s just that I am wired to place other people’s feelings above my own and it’s a pattern that I have to consciously unlearn. I know that I am not the only person who struggles with this, but it is frustrating for me nevertheless.
I am making a conscious effort to not let my anger control or paralyze me. I don’t have to be afraid of a natural human emotion, but rather I can embrace it and learn to express that feeling in a healthy productive and cathartic manner. How about you? Do you feel comfortable being angry? What’s your story?