Personal Essay #51

About ten years ago, tucked away in a box of keepsakes, I found a poem my son wrote about me in elementary school. It was a beautiful creation and he decorated it with a rainbow and a thundercloud. I don’t remember the exact verbiage but it was something along the lines of…”When my mom is happy she’s like a rainbow when she is mad she is like a storm.” I began to question myself after that, “Was I really mad like a storm?” After some self-reflection, the accurate statement bit into my senses.

I wish I understood my anger. I’ve tried to figure it out, subdue it, let it rage, vent it, sooth it, hold it in. I’ve read books and taken classes. While there have been improvements over time, I am ashamed to admit that it still has a hold of me. I am still a slave to it when it rears its ugly head. I experience yet again the unpleasant failure and its consequences.

So what do I experience? I am filled with what I can only describe as an intense anxiety fueled “fight or flight” energy that courses through my entire body. My hands shake and my palms sweat. Perhaps it’s an adrenaline rush or a chemical reaction caused by my past, either way, sometimes I can soothe it away quickly and sometimes I can’t. I am painfully aware of the interpersonal communication challenges this has created in my life and I wish to rid myself of this reaction.

I wish I hadn’t been brought up in a household of explosive anger because it has followed me for decades. At least it’s the last real shackle I have left to break. I can see how I have improved my control of it over the years. I also know that those feelings are mostly non-existent unless I am around certain people and then the anger tends to rise to the surface. I try to steer clear of anyone who literally brings out the worst in me.

It gets sticky when it involves another person. All the lashing out, apologizing, the trying to make things make sense. It’s even tougher when there are two heated points of view. Toes get stepped on. Any relationship is like a sheet of paper, once it’s been crumpled it can never be smooth and blemish free again.

Sometimes this energy is so strong in my gut and even in my soul that I usually know there is often a deeper issue at play, just waiting for my recognition and attention. Therefore, this anger has a purpose as it brings to light the growth I crave. I still hate that this feeling goes hand and hand with my anxiety and my expectations though.

I would like to rid myself of this “character flaw” for good. I know that there are changes I have made that have improved my quality of life and diminished this flaw (slowly like wearing down a rock). One is just being grateful for all the good in my life. I also work on not taking things personally (unless a negative intention is evident). However, the best way I have found to combat this anger is by turning it into something positive. This is where I shift my focus to my creative writing and focus on learning new skills instead of circling around in the negative space in my head.

I guess mastering this monster is going to have to be one of my goals for the upcoming year. I think I will be happier if I can master my anger. Yet I can’t help but wonder, without a little anger and outrage, how do we know what needs changing in our world?




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