I never admitted to myself that I’m an angry person. I didn’t want to be an angry person, that’s not in my introverted comfort zone, something reserved for those who express themselves outwardly, not crumble onto themselves inwardly. I’ve always thought of my anger as simple self-loathing, and have dealt with it in typically self-loathing ways – eating disorders, self-harm, drinking, getting into bad relationships, etc. Textbook stuff. But I never called it anger.
I’ll never forget beating a VCR with a baseball bat (don’t ask) on a suburban lawn and hearing someone in the group of people I was with say “that’s an angry girl”. And I was. I was 18, I was miserable, depressed as hell, I had massive issues when it came to eating (or not, as the case often was) and was starting a slow but steady self-destruct that would end up in self-injury by the end of the school year. I was a freshman in college. When I heard “that’s an angry girl” I brushed it off. I wasn’t angry. Angry people get into fights and stand up for themselves. I never fought and I certainly never stood up for myself. I wasn’t angry. A bad person, perhaps. A damaged person, for certain. But angry? Never.
Of course I was in denial. I was full of anger, full to exploding, all the time, the rage roiled and seethed inside of me. I was furious that my brain tormented me every moment of every day, second guessing myself and beating myself up all the time, the only outlets were self-harming in some way or another. I was so angry, and I had no idea where to put it, other than punishing myself. But still I told myself I wasn’t angry. An angry person doesn’t burst into tears at the drop of a hat. I did. Still do. Always have, and probably always will.
The years passed and my anger grew, and I punished myself more and more. By the time I moved to NYC after college and a summer job that destroyed my confidence in my chosen profession, I stopped eating and began cutting all the time. I dropped to under 100 pounds and was covered in self-inflicted wounds and scars. When I moved to Los Angeles eight days after September 11th, I had begun drinking. The anger/shame/depression spiral had destroyed my relationship, and I ended up moving back home with my parents after my engagement was broken.
But I wasn’t angry.
The years passed and I became more and more self-destructive, and we all know how that turned out three years ago when I was in the coma. And anyone who’s been reading the blog this week knows what then happened last week. And even then, even after years and years of intensive therapy, of being told over and over that I have so much anger in me that I lash inward, punishing myself for my own feelings, too afraid to confront others because the tears come so quickly, and with the tears comes the dismissal of my feelings, because no one takes you seriously when you’re hyperventilating through sobs. Why would they? It’s not as if you were angry, just a weak crybaby. Someone to be dismissed or mocked.
No, I wasn’t angry.
I wasn’t angry at my disease, wasn’t angry at all the relationships that had been trashed, the dreams that were unrealized, the backbreaking work that had gone unnoticed or had little to no appreciation. I wasn’t angry at the medications that packed so much weight onto me that I look like a monster now, not angry that I still can’t seem to do anything much without tears pouring down my face. That’s not frustrating at all. Neither is being kept in a psych ward for a week because I can’t control my own emotions. Nothing made me angry. I’d just be over here, silently crying, as my brain screamed for an outlet, some way of releasing the fire that roared inside.
I’m not an angry person.
I’m a lover, not a fighter. I try to be the peacekeeper in situations, the negotiator, the one who kisses booboos and gives hugs and tells everyone else that everything is going to be okay. I’m the four AM phone call when your boyfriend breaks up with you and the one who gives advice when you don’t know what to do. I’m the one ready with open arms and an open heart, to fix all your troubles, and I am happy to do it.
People like me have no time to be angry.
Even now, writing this, the tears pour down my face and my inner voice howls over and over.
Selfish. Self-indulgent. Whining. Braggart. Self-righteous. Stupid. Fat. Ugly. Worthless. Pathetic. Nothing.
But never angry.
I passed angry a long, long time ago. What I have inside me is a forest fire. An atom bomb. A tsunami. And the only thing that keeps it from destroying everything in its path is writing it out, and the precious few people who haven’t discarded me like so many others have. It’s a slow, white hot burning, destructive in every way but let out in small increments on the page, through tears, or seethed through a smile. To release it would be catastrophic. I mean, I might do something foolish, like go on a bender, destroy my apartment and end up in the psych ward, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?
So no. I’m not an angry person. Whatever gave you that idea?