A Study on Anger – Part I
(Sorry this blog is in three parts - it would be a very long blog if I put it together as one!)
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips “
Corinthians New International Version
Why I am looking at anger
So my challenge from my Aunt this week was to think about anger and yes I wrote two poems on this. Two for the price of one! I found this exercise fascinating and therapeutic and actually thinking about and facing up to the anger inside of me quite cleansing, but did it cleanse all the deep-rooted anger I have brooding inside? Probably not but has made me realise it’s still there under the surface and does colour many parts of my life.
I don’t think that I am naturally an angry person and some people say I am quite a calming person (I am not sure they knew me before I had cancer!), but in some ways I am an angry person – I am still angry about many things and for many different reasons. Some of the anger is just a dull ache now in my heart while other kinds of anger rears its head now and again and can put me in a bad mood, or complicates relationships I have with other people, and then there is also the anger that I brood upon and is constantly in my thoughts because this anger is still unresolved.
For the first time in the last five years I feel as if only now I have time to stop still a little during my week and able to reflect on all sorts of things in a less emotive way. I have the freedom to explore my emotional intelligence, to reflect on my faith, my believe in the relative goodness of human nature, and more importantly to find time to relax and be calm.
There is the anger because of having cancer and all the consequences of this particularly the why me question, but there is also the anger that is more deep-rooted, the anger against myself where I have put myself in vulnerable situations and set myself up to be hurt, and hurt others - not only in my recent past but looking much further back at my volatile marriage and experiences in childhood.
Having experienced anger against myself in many forms (including violence) and having written my two poems and explored my own anger (although my main poem is one of poetic license – see Part II and Part III of this study) – I thought it would also be a good topic for my blog.
The word anger comes from Middle English, from and Old Norse angr, meaning sorrow/grief; (and also related to Latin angere meaning to strangle!). I do think that the anger is very much akin to grief because it makes us sad, over time it lessens but still now and again has the power to overwhelm us with unwelcome emotions, but yet most of us learned to manage it.
“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” Unknown
What I am angry about
Having had some really bad experiences with my ex-husband which led to the fog of depression and although I did get help through counselling, faced up to that anger both against the perpetrator and the victim being myself, accepted it and then forgave, I still have found it difficult to move forward.
As I have mentioned previously in other blogs it was really having the cancer that took me out of the depression perhaps because rather than looking back at the past and all the hurt associated with doing that, I had to focus on the here and now, live day by day and became angry at something that was beyond my control. And yes I did have quite a few days when I was so angry at having cancer – my hormones were haywire (still are) and I had mood swings and very confused emotions - include somewhere in that scenario also the stresses and pressure of day to day life as well.
Looking back I felt angry when people didn’t come to visit me, that sometimes life seemed to demand that I be more reasonable than those who were healthy, I felt anger with myself for needing help and having to ask directly for help. I felt angry that I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do for myself or my son, the loss of some relationships and the loss of my self-image. Basically I felt angry with myself just for being so ill and vulnerable and said to myself things like “I don't deserve this.” and “Why don't they understand I am ill? ” “Don't they know how ill I feel?” - “Don't they know how hard I try? ”
I also realised that others were angry with me for being ill as well. That there was an intolerance and irritation around that I was so weak, stuck, sometimes helpless, sometimes complaining, and unavailable and even angry at the times when I was positive, but in a way I know it’s more the circumstances people become angry about and not necessarily with the actual person.
But I don’t give a rubber duck.
Why me -
How did I come so unstuck?
The mirror of myself
Why me –
Going to be left on the shelf?
Feeling alone in misery
Why me –
Because my heath has flown?
Life shouldn’t be like this
Why me -
Is the real me missed?
I don’t want to be seen
Why me -
Am I allowed to shout and scream?
At the unfairness
Why me -
Struggling to find happiness?
But why not me
Not anyone else I know
Because I can go with the flow
I am strong, I am positive
Chasing away the negative
Full of hope, love and grace
And I will win life’s race
LAUGHING IN THE FACE OF ANGER,
OF HAVING CANCER!
When I sent this poem to my dad he didn’t like the swear the word I put in instead of "rubber duck", particularly as I am not a person who swears that much (unless I am extremely angry), but that’s why I put it in as an expression of my anger and for the shock value of the people who know me. This is very much a poem looking at how I felt at the time after my first operation and through my chemotherapy - its retrospective and explores the days I wallowed in my anger needing some way to release it, but I would pull myself quickly out of this kind of mood knowing that it is just not worth getting angry over something I couldn’t control and use and filter those angry feelings into something positive.
“ Give us the courage to change what needs to be changed, the strength to bear what cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference”
The above could be re-translated to “Give us the courage to be angry at the things that matter, the strength not to be angry at what is beyond our control and the wisdom to know the difference”
Cancer has taught me is let go of the small things in life that put pressure on us and make us irritable and angry – I needed all my energy to fight cancer not anything else and now I am in recovery I just think back about how I felt then as a recent memory and am now in a completely different place emotionally. It takes a lot to get me angry these days but there are still times when I wake up angry and it effects my whole day in a negative way.
“if you get angry when the toaster catches on fire, what are you going to do when the house burns down”! - Unknown
Finally, there is the justifiable anger I feel when I watch the news and see the terrible things that happen around the world, the injustice and the sadness although there is some comfort in that my anger joins everyone's indignant anger in the world and hopefully it its the kind of anger that changes injustice to something better.
(Part II on my Study of Anger asks the question of whether anger is healthy and looks at the different kinds of anger. )