Anger is a funny thing. It can hit you at any time, any place and for any reason. A woman might be walking down the street and without warning find herself fuming over the something as abstract as fiscal responsibility. A man, happily married for decades can become instantly irate if his wife chooses to do something without him. A daughter can become furious with her mother for no reason other than she is in the same room.
But where does all this anger come from? It seems to me that anger comes from two places, both of them equally difficult to differentiate between in the heat of the moment. First, there is the anger that comes from without – anger that is caused by the actions of someone other than yourself. Examples include anger at men who abuse women, people who vandalize for no reason other than the wish for destruction, anger at a family member for lying to you or hurting you, and anger at the people in power who are corrupt and immoral. This anger can be understood, as we all are born with a sense of right and wrong. However different these concepts might be from one person to the next, we are all born with a moral compass and apply it to our day to day interactions with society. The levels of our anger also vary. Some may feel an incredible indifference to a moral issue such as gun control, whereas others may become completely inflamed at the mere mention of the topic. At the same time, people can use indifference to mask their rage, preferring to block out what they cannot control.
But as hard as anger from without is to control, I believe that the anger that comes from within is even more dangerous and volatile. This anger has nothing to do with anybody but yourself, and it is always easier to identify what makes other people mad than what makes our own selves angry. This anger can come from many places, childhood issues, self esteem problems, a general feeling of helplessness or inadequacy, or many other places that I can’t even begin to understand.
I was angry today. One moment my mother and I are having a discussion, the next I am out the door, in the truck and gone. At first I thought it was because of what we were talking about – the hypocrisy of people preaching about saving the planet when the sheer tonnage of raw materials needed to sustain our current lifestyle is outrageous (I read in Isaac Asimov’s “Book of Facts” [1979, Grosset & Dunlap] that it takes twenty tons of raw materials each year to sustain one person in their modern lifestyle. I can only assume the numbers have shifted since then, and I assume in an upwards direction). Once I had left the house I started thinking that maybe my mother was the reason I was mad – I find her outlook on life to be more or less a complete load of hooey (75% of the books in my mothers library look like they came from a shop that sells tarot cards and mystical pyramids). But that was not the case either. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was simply angry, and my mother just happened to be in the way. Now, sitting here and trying to figure out what I am angry at, I feel ashamed that I let anything take control of me like that. But I seem to notice more and more anger coming from within these days. Not that the levels of anger are increasing. No it is more that I am starting to realize how much is really there. My belief that I was angry at others because of the way they behave is slowly being replaced by the realization that I am simply pissed off and looking for a way to lash out.
That being said, I feel that some of my anger has justification. My life has been a rollercoaster of emotions lately, and some days I feel like I am holding on with the barest grip. Toss in a big dollop of pregnancy and I spend my days just wishing for it all to be over. Having to live with a woman who drives me mad with her new age rhetoric doesn’t help (There are only so many times I can hear the words enlightenment, compassion or spirituality without wanting to scream. When the three words all come together in one sentence, it feels like my nerves are being rubbed against a grinding disc). Having said that, I also realize that I am probably not helping the situation. I can tell anyone where I think my anger comes from, but the deeper I dig into my emotions, the less I understand them. Am I angry at the boyfriend who kicked me out and the father who never understood me? Am I angry at the high school that made me feel like being different was a sin and a crime? Is it the mother who abandoned me in my early childhood that planted the seeds of wrath? Yes, I think all of these are factors. But I am also not sure that any of them are the direct cause of my anger.
My baby’s father left me recently. He told me I needed to sort my life out before we could live together and raise a baby. As angry and hurt as this made me, I have to admit he was right. But the more I examine my life and the events leading up to today, the less I can pinpoint what it is that I need to fix. So I can only conclude that there is some perspective on my life that I haven’t taken into account yet – that missing piece of the puzzle that would make all of this make sense. Until then, I can only hope to keep realizing where my anger is coming from and keep it tamped down so I am not hurting people who simply have the misfortune of being around me.
Until next time,