Anger with a D is Danger. That’s the kind of anger I used to have. The Destructive Kind.
Anger was my best friend. Always accessible and purposeful, it was my go-to response to many of life’s situations. It didn’t take much to justify unleashing on all the irritating people of the world. And those irritating people were everywhere!
Anger suited me well –I felt strong and powerful when I was angry. People kept their distance and I was safe. I got kudos growing up for being angry; as long as it wasn’t with anyone in our house! I’d come home with stories of mouthing off at teachers and be commended for it. Dad would laugh and give me the rare praise I coveted.
It wasn’t until I finally heard myself yelling at my kids that I was finally willing to admit anger might not be such a good friend after all. As I began to learn the true source of my anger, it gradually became more manageable and less destructive. It became easier to express anger more appropriately instead of through spontaneous eruption.
The initial downside was this allowed emotions I was unfamiliar with to surface. I was accustomed to masking my fear, loneliness and sadness with anger. I didn’t know how to handle these new emotions and often struggled with them.
It was so much easier for me to be angry and blow up than really listen and be vulnerable. Being “right” and “in control” took less energy and time in the short-haul; but it was also destroying my relationships.
That rush from being excessively angry was similar to the spike of a sugar high; it felt great in the moment, but it didn’t last and was harmful. The crash from those power trips left me weighted with guilt and shame. It’s obvious to me now my angry self came across as arrogant and egotistical, when in reality I was full of fear and insecurity.
Anger can have a healthy purpose, and I’ve learned it’s not something to fear anymore. Just like other emotions, it can be expressed in extremes or it can be expressed constructively. I feel so much freer now that anger doesn’t rule me. It’s not a matter of simply controlling it, but having processed it. The source and intensity of the unhealthy version has been removed. My family and I no longer have to wonder when my next outburst will be.
How about you? Do you have a story about struggling with anger or being the recipient of it?