my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

7.21.2005

Anger

Afterword re curiosity about the anger. As I explained to my friend keeter: "truthfully, what set me off was the typical scenario of a bunch of us turning 'I'm more cultured than thou' and piling criticism -- like fragrant but bullying linebackers -- on a blogger and blogging. All of a sudden I'm deeply identifying with the whole concept of blogging and populist culture and, and, and ...Like all my fits of anger, it can be seen as funny when it's over. But what isn't funny is the bullying I see on the board. When somebody gets a wild hair and takes off after somebody is the worst example of subversive female anger. I don't want to be part of that."


I have been seething for nearly three days ... the twisted part about anger for women is that we have been schooled to believe it is so unseemly, so wrong -- anger is not pretty, it's not delicate, it's not nice.

And I have a hideous temper that I have been encouraged to disguise since I was -- well, since I was.

The flipside of disguising anger, repressing anger, though, is depression. Shove that fury down far enough, long enough and it turns on you. I had so much experience with schooling myself to not feel anger, I have been to the point of not feeling anything. Anger, frightening as it is, is preferable.

Anger's trigger is rarely its root cause. The trigger this time is my perception that someone attempted to diminish me. Note I said "perception." Because what one feels in anger is rarely anyone's objective reality.

In truth, this person doesn't know me well enough to diminish me -- but my emotional antibodies, my psychological immune system took that germ of a thought -- "this person is dissing me" -- and mounted a defense worthy of fighting the plague.

And I have carried the angry infection around for three days. THREE DAYS.

My anger can be majestic. And I think I hold onto it because, in a perverse way, I like it. It gives me false power, it substantiates me, it makes me feel like I take up more space.

My ex-husband -- veteran of true psychoanalysis (and marriage to me) -- has deep awareness, and he described his anger as a lover -- he could feel her approaching, she was seductive, he always had a hard time choosing against her.

But, much as I might welcome the splendor of this seductive illusion, I need to select away from it, move past it. Because I do understand its shaky foundation:

Fear. I am afraid. What I am afraid of is undoubtedly connected to feeling powerless, not being substantive enough, feeling my life is not yet taking up enough space.

This fear is connected to my work product, to my creative product, to my relationships, to my existence ... which, with every day, is a day less.

I spent some time in therapy repeating, "I'm not going to have enough time. I'm not going to have enough time."

And I don't increase the time I have by spending it in anger.

Today's fragrance: Bandit by Robert Piguet (a deep bow to L and to C) with its notes of leather, wood and spice, jasmine and carnation on a base of vetiver, patchouli and musk. I am the type that sits there tapping toes as the leather blooms, saying "when's the jasmine? when's the carnation?" Well, the florals get there, and it's an arresting (Bandit, get it?) combination with the harder-edge leather/woods. I think the vetiver gives drydown an edginess. Not a relaxing fragrance. But not one I need to make a quick getaway from.

19 Comments:

Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

This is one emotion I know well. And having my mother here with me seems to have stirred it up even more these past few days.

What I have learned to do is to accept, and not react. This is for me, so that I will try not to be resentful towards others. Sometimes I say the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

If I embrace these words, truly, I am into acceptance, and anger usually subsides.

Wishing you a good day full of peace.

7:05 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. I love the way you're sorting out this point of anger to find the source.

Peace.


~clearing

8:05 AM

 
Blogger katiedid said...

Maleficent was the most stylish of the Disney villians, wasn't she?

For me, anger is nearly always really about fear or hurt. If I just wait and see what my anger is, it usually leads me back to one of those two core emotions.

8:15 AM

 
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Do you really have a hideous temper M? You could choose to honour yourself a different way by saying you have a magnificent capacity for passion. Anger is one facet and as much a part of you to be accepted and loved as any other part. You are a courageous woman and I have no doubt will face this one and examine it until you get it sorted out. There is nothing wrong with anger. Its a fabulous vehicle for learning and self knowledge. I've been studying it myself of years. You DID figure out that I have a 'temper' too didn't you? :-)
Its not all just PMS LOL.

About your feeling diminished by someone else. Please remember your feelings arise from your thoughts, and you can choose how you think about slight, real or imagined. Oh, I know as a therapy survivor you've probably heard all this before but it never hurts to hear it from your friends again.

What a great post today-a tribute to your honesty and courage. As always, it makes me realize, yet again, how grateful I am to have become friends with you. You are a gift.
xoxo
Laura

8:17 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you for telling about Bandit today.

I'm a *waiting-for-the-floral-bouquet-to-arrive*
type gal too.


~clearing

9:01 AM

 
Anonymous keeter said...

O!M!G! Was it three days ago that I met you? Did I diss you somehow?

9:46 AM

 
Blogger mireille said...

keeter! no, no, no! and heartfelt thanks to everyone who reads this and comments ... xoxoxo

9:51 AM

 
Blogger ParisLondres said...

So well written! Are you my emotional twin? Are there some weird cosmic goings on that are affecting us?

I have been haunted by anger the past three days too (what a blooming coincidence) and as katiedid mentioned above - I rationalized and this hurt is from "hurt and anger" and more so from my expectation of people. We have our ways of working out on how to get on with things - I have found the best way to deal with such emotions is NOT to confront especially with people we think who are friends because there is no point. Besides what happens is that the person/s feels an overt sense of guilt and they try to please you unless they are arrogant enough and do not care. What is the point! Win some lose some I say!

((((((((M)))))))) - you are a genius and I adore your blog.

xoxo

10:28 AM

 
Blogger Bela said...

I have no problem with anger. I accept it in me and in others. I was brought up in an angry household where anger was always expressed.

My anger flares up quickly and subsides quickly. I hate resentment: it's worse; it gnaws at you.

10:37 AM

 
Blogger ParisLondres said...

I agree with you J - there is a difference between anger and resentment. Resentment is always much worse.

10:40 AM

 
Anonymous janey said...

Someone dissed you? Let me at 'em. I don't like getting angry simply because it hurts me more then the person I'm angry at. If you scream at someone for 15 mins cutting you off on the road, you're the one going to get the heart attack. Their windows are rolled up and they could care less. I, like you, was taught to not show the anger, mustn't make waves, mustn't mustn't mustn't. A whole lot of mustn'ts adds up to anger against yourself. I think the thing about anger though is to know when to let it go. And that time is when it doesn't get you any results. I don't mean forgiveness either. I can forgive someone who says their sorry and won't do it again. But really, if they keep on doing it then you should be angry. But if they don't change their ways then what's the point of being angry. I just look at them as if they weren't important enough to make me angry. Someone dissed you? Easy to solve, kick them out of your life, block their comments. They're not worth your energy. I'd offer to beat them up for you but I'm sort of a featherweight. I don't think it would have any effect. Now why do I seem to always leave all these long comments on your blog? And Rose Thief is up:)

10:46 AM

 
Blogger Val said...

Great picture to go w/ a topic few people want to even approach =) You're so refreshing!

And I guess I'll risk getting you fired up again- this week's TIME magazine features one of your favorite people... Karl Rove! ;) I saw the cover & wondered what the look on your face would be.

Have a super day! Remember to breathe; sometimes that's all it takes!

10:51 AM

 
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Wow! Absolutely brilliant post! Really, really, really good.

You're doing fine. You understand the situation, and you are doing just fine.

2:06 PM

 
Anonymous Lulu said...

So many things in what you say are so true. Not expressing anger has been my big problem in life, for absolutely ever. Back to when I was 7 and my best friend used to steal from me and lie about it, and instead of telling her where to get off I developed stomach pains and headaches and got too sick to go to school. I got told off by my parents ONCE in my whole childhood; the rest of the time I did what I was told first time. I had no teenage rebellion. I don't even notice when I'm being patronised, other people have to point it out. To the point now where I actually don't feel anything either, just like you. But does that make me a nice person? No! And how do I feel now? Often depressed and filled with self-loathing. Working backwards, that's just got to be inward-directed anger, I truly believe what you say - but does anyone a bit more evolved out there have any ideas how to turn that around? Please? All suggestions welcome - should I shout at the TV? Kick the cat? Get a punchbag? It's not yoga I need to take up, it's kick-boxing.

3:33 PM

 
Blogger mireille said...

honestly, L, I DO feel now. But it took seven years of intensive on-the-couch psychotherapy to find my way to productive perception and occasional outlet of my anger. I think some people can do it with self-talk, but it really helps to have someone willing to call bullshit on you: that is, someone who knows you well enough to observe when you're suppressing and try to talk your real reactions out of you. The fact that you can express what you express -- about wanting kickboxing, for instance -- actually says something about how healthily close to the surface your anger may be. Just because you don't choose to go down the street randomly aiming a foot at peoples' crotches doesn't mean you don't have potential. *grin* xoxoxo

3:47 PM

 
Blogger Jonniker said...

My depression was always fear, not anger. But I know the anger well, as I have a rage, too -but it sits on the surface, not buried too deeply.

The fear is buried deep.

Sending you peaceful thoughts, xoo

5:26 PM

 
Blogger AP3 said...

Yes, very well written post! Anger is a tough one. I have trouble with it, too.

6:08 PM

 
Blogger Kate said...

But sometimes people do try to diminish us. And when they do, look out, because I have a fierce temper too! :-)

I like how you said "My anger can be majestic." Mine too.

I don't think it's a false power though, it's a real power. Anger sometimes motivates me in ways that nothing else will. It also protects me when people try to mess with me. And it suprises me how many people will be intimidated by even a little anger. I feel like telling them, "you ain't seen nothing yet!" LOL

Seriously, our society is so civilized. Good old fashioned anger feels good sometimes, because it's just part of our human emotional range. It's not that anger itself is bad, it's what we do with it.

Sometimes anger can bring issues to the surface in a relationship that need to be dealt with, and then you can work them out.

Personally, I enjoy a good yelling match with those I love once and awhile. I expect people in my life to be able to fight back, to stick up for themselves and to struggle through difficult issues in a passionate way. Passive agressive or wimpy people just annoy me.

or maybe I'm just a bully? LOL.

6:42 AM

 
Anonymous Lulu said...

I agree, Kate. Passive aggressive is the worst - and people who say 'Nothing' when you ask what's wrong when they're sulking - when what they mean is either 'I'm not ready to talk about it yet,' 'I'm frightened to talk about it' or 'I want you to be able to guess for yourself' (the real killer).

I know it's the obvious thing to say, but if you suppress anger you have to suppress its opposite, joy as well. If you want joy you have to accept the anger.

Actually, Mireille, regarding the random aiming of feet at crotches, you should see me when hawkers and leafleters step in front of me in the street. I hate my stride being interrupted and the invasion of my personal space! If I've had a bad day I'm almost willing them to do it so I can let fly, lol!

4:51 PM

 

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