As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to show anger. When I was angry, I was supposed to express it in some silent way far removed from my parents. Even a raised voice was considered talking back.
I became an excellent moper and sulker. Like Olympic gold medal moper and sulker.
I learned how to punish people with silence.
It was polite. It didn’t violate our family’s code of conduct. And I soon learned that it cut deeper than a string of cross words shouted in anger or a clenched fist.
It just took patience and perseverance, two of my best qualities.
When I got older, I learned that anger turned inward is depression. That made so much sense as I have suffered from depression for most of my life.
When I get angry these days, I don’t know what to do with this strange and foreign emotion.
Last night, I was angry. I felt it in my body but mostly in my trembling hands. I wanted to put my fist through a wall. I thought about it.
I went outside and raked leaves as the sun went down. The physical activity felt good.
I came inside and still wanted to punch something.
Instead, I used my adrenaline to bake a cake. A tiny lemon cake with lemon frosting.
W and I split the cake before bed and rinsed it down with hot cups of tea.
I ate too much lemon cake. I ended up with an upset stomach.
“Do you want some Tums?” W asked.
“How many? You can have as many as four. They’re big.”
“Two,” I said.
I chewed them. They were sweet and chalky.
“One of them was lemon,” I said.
I think W rolled her eyes, but I couldn’t be sure because it was dark in our bedroom.
“This is probably why you shouldn’t eat lemon cake baked with anger and bitterness right before bed,” I said.
So, that’s the moral of the story, folks. Never eat a slice of angry lemon cake before bedtime.
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What about you? What do you do when you’re angry? Do you have any tips for mitigating anger?