This week, I’ve been dealing with sudden waves of anger-headed-toward-rage that wash over my mind in blinding, boiling, red waves. At first blush, they come out of nowhere, pounding the shore of my consciousness, and recede within seconds or minutes, but those seconds and minutes feel longer, like hours. I am not proud to say that sometimes they wash right on out my mouth in peevish tones, sarcasm, or sharp words onto people around me.
These are the things I know for certain about anger:
- “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” — the Buddha
- It is a “cover” for some other emotional disturbance, some deep-seated hurt, sadness, fear, burn out, or frustration or similar emotion that we aren’t quite registering or that we are trying to shove into the mental bin labelled “Denial,” and oftentimes not just the emotions but the situations or thoughts or ways of being that cause them.
- Sometimes it can make us act like the hugest asses in the world.
- Sometimes it can drive us toward positive change. (You can’t change anything unless and until you know what needs to change, and anger seems to be quite effective at pointing out what needs to change.)
Sunday I scolded my Mother, for lack of a better term. She was going on about how she doesn’t think my sister’s boyfriend is going to reach his dream of becoming a cardiologist. My Mother is one of those people who has to try to tear apart other people’s dreams for their lives unless the dreams are, in her opinion, practical. She’s done it to mine. She’s done it to my sister’s, since childhood for both of us. She’s done it behind countless others’ backs. She was in the car with me at the time she made her snide comments about my sister’s boyfriend, and rather than be compassionate and remember that this is purely a product of her killing her own dreams for “practicality”, which is what I try to do, I let loose a brief tirade pointing out to her in no uncertain terms that she seems to feel she has to shit all over everyone else’s dreams and plans, that I had had enough of it, and that I didn’t want to hear any more of it. She was gobsmacked, and, honestly, so was I.
Since the work week started up again, the waves have been coming more frequently. I’ve been riding a razor’s edge, trying to keep my tone from being outright hostile, but I have been short with my boss, my lone (part-time) co-worker, and the clients. (And saying that I’m sorry a lot.) For instance, my co-worker asked me five times while I was trying to eat lunch yesterday to help her with Quickbooks. She is the one who took the training. I repeatedly told her that I only knew the basics, and the particular glitch that had popped up was well beyond my scope of knowledge, but she kept asking me as she was panicking, and I am the most tech-literate member of the office so naturally she asked me. Each time, I got snippier. I finally had to go shut myself in the bathroom and punch the air a little while.
Of course, not helping the situation are the hormonal fluctuations I’m currently experiencing, but they’re not the full cause, either.
Quite simply, I am burned out and frustrated and scared.
I am burned out with my job and homelife. Once my job is finished up and the office closes, change will come, and I will leave. I am still not 100% sure about where I want to go after this is over, but the one place that calls to me most often is over 1,000 miles away. That brings no small amount of fear with it, you know? And the things that make my soul sing? The things I could actually see me devoting my life to in a career sense are not the most practical: writing and nature photography. Hello, crowded market.
Frustration grows out of the burn-out and the fear. Sigh.
Coming into 2010, I knew things were starting to converge. I knew it was going to get too painful to remain, as Anais Nin said, wrapped tight in a bud, and that I would need to take the risk to blossom or else I may just shrivel on the vine. Maybe this means that I’m very close to just bursting into full bloom.
Anyway, the question is, what am I going to do with this anger in an immediate sense?
Well, as I’ve done here in a rather stream-of-consciousness manner, I’m going to keep digging to the roots of it. I have got to get my outlets for its underlying causes back up and running: daily spiritual practice, reading for enjoyment (rather than solely to gain knowledge or for self-improvement, which I’ve been doing recently; bring on the cheesy novels!), getting my butt to bed at a decent hour in relation to when I need to wake up, spending more time outside, and so forth. I’m going to take time to rest and just veg out at least once a week. And, most importantly, I’m going to do my best, when a wave of anger comes, to acknowledge it’s there, to let go and breathe.