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.
* * *
What about you? What do you do when you’re angry? Do you have any tips for mitigating anger?
Great share! Thanks! 😄
Thanks for reading, Lynn.
I love that you depicted your angry self as Anger from Inside Out. I often feel that my anger is very Lewis Black-like.
My upbringing was much the same, but with some nasty extras. Yep, depressed, anxious adult. In my younger days, I took out my rage by beating up people, or in the mosh pit. Nowadays, barn chores, slinging hay bales, long deliberate walks, river swimming when it is warm enough all serve to help dispel the anger. GQB has a thing called the calm middle, and I endeavor to go to that place in my head.
All angry butches probably look like Anger from Inside Out. Must be the necktie. I figure the house chores will all get done if I channel the anger and put it to good use. I’ll have to see if I can find that “calm middle.”
The calm middle doesn’t involve any kind of meditation or woo-woo stuff like that, it’s just a matter of not being in the far extremes of emotion. For someone like me who is all about strength of will, forcing myself into the calm middle kind of works. Hard to explain, alas.
I get it. And I know I can “will” myself out of my angry space. I just choose not to do so at the moment.
Unfortunately, I don’t let people know when I’m angry. Like you, I have learned to keep silent about it. But it usually backfires, and I end up telling people off later, aka explode. Not a good habit, and I know that I need to be more honest with others sooner, as well as with myself.
Yeah, been there, done that. That’s been my past m.o. — letting anger build until I blow up over something inconsequential. Certainly a tricky emotion to handle.
All of the above. Or sometimes I wait until I’m alone in my car and engage in some primal scream therapy. Or better yet, I find that calm center through smudging or drumming–but I might need to scream first.
I’m hearing primal scream. I’m not much of a teller or screamer, but I suppose I could give it a go.
Perhaps not so much a scream, but a fierce butchly enraged ROAR
Ooh, I like that better than screaming.
Well… I’m not a very nice angry person. I talk before I think. I’ve been doing much better as I get older and wiser. ha!!
I wonder if there are very nice angry people. The problem with talking before speaking is that you can’t take back what has been said. I know because I’ve been on the other end of that.
There’s a lovely dent in the door of our refrigerator. I put it there when I lost it several years ago. It was the only time I ever punched anything. When I was younger, I kept it all in, giving people the evil eye, but saying nothing. I still tend to keep things in and if the anger builds to the point of eruption, I scream then hide in the upstairs bathroom after slamming the door. Hard. I tend to have a short fuse, but I’d like to think I’m better at not letting things get to me as I used to. Mindfulness has helped immensely. I don’t feel the rage like I did and if I do get angry, I fling the “F” word about or go for a brisk walk outside. If I’m angry with my husband, I’ve learned that telling him what’s bothering me actually helps. Who’d a thunk it?
Yes, this telling of what’s bothering you is a foreign concept. I thought all spouses are to be mind readers. Wouldn’t that be nifty? But maybe no.
I would normally go silent. I was so good at it, I went silent for several hours. . . days. I never witnessed by parents arguing so I didn’t know how to properly convey my feelings. It’s just been recently that I’ve started to learn how to verbalize my emotions. This takes time and practice. Sometimes, I have to walk away and then return, in an appropriate amount of time, to discuss things.When my partner is open to listening to me express myself (and sometimes helping me through the process) I find it easier and I’m more likely to want to do it more. Blah! Emotions, I still don’t like them. . . but now I can say that and not hold it in. Cheers!
You and I could have had a silence off back in the day. One time I got so mad at my brother for not letting me watch The Brady Bunch that I didn’t speak to him for weeks. Until he burst into tears. And that’s when I realized the power of the silent treatment.
I’m not big on emotions either. Thanks for sharing!
I too learned to shove all emotions that were not smiles, joy and gratitude away into the buried box of depression.
I’m constantly learning to express a full range of emotions.
The cake sounds yummy though, even if it was made with a swirl of rage-y goodness.
Angry lemon cake. It’s now one of my go to cakes. Caution: Do not eat before bedtime. Rinse down with extra milk. Or whiskey.
Lemon cake and whisky… The nightcap of champions!
You know it. Quite a nightcap indeed!
You bring the angry lemon cake, I’ll bring the whisky. The rest of the goofiness will supply itself.
I generally state how I’m feeling directly to the person I’m dealing with, these days. It helps that my partner of many years is similarly outspoken. We don’t let things fester and get out of control, and that is now how I deal with others, too. If I do get angry, therefore, it is usually at a situation or someone unreachable. Then I bellow and swear and stomp around for a bit, and then it’s over. I never bring it up again.
That sounds so mature.
I think you hit the nail on the head. In this case, I feel like my anger is directed at someone/something that is unreachable. I can’t figure out how to let it go because I feel like the situation is unfair. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say by being angry. This isn’t fair. I’m being punished and not because of anything I’ve done.
I understand. That IS unfair (to be punished without cause) and being told “Life isn’t fair,” doesn’t cut it.
Can you write it all out? Either a letter to the offending person or situation, or an explanation for someone else to relate? Sometimes it helps to say what you need to say, even when it isn’t actually heard on the other end.
Writing does help. Just writing the blog post helped. And time is a healer.
You bet. 100% agreed.
I write in my journal when I’m mad and scream every awful thing I’m thinking in there. Sometimes I’ll take a drive and put the music up loud and vent what I’m feeling. By the time I get back home I’m usually exhausted and much more level headed so I can talk it out. I tend to wear my feelings on my sleeves so people usually know when I’m upset with them. My mom used the silent treatment on us all of the time and would lock herself away in her room for days only coming out to cook meals and pee. It was awful.
Journaling is a good way to get everything out and on the page. And yeah, I like to put on some Joan Jett and drive around. That does help.
That story about your mom is terrible. I can only imagine how scary that would be for a kid.