Anger, The Useful Emotion
Anger has been the theme of my life of late.
I was raised with the idea that anger is “inappropriate,” the word my mother used to batter me with. It was her favorite term to call me. It was abusive. Flat-out abusive. Normal emotions: not okay. Ever.
As I have learned about CPTSD (a la Pete Walker), I now understand that anger is really a protective emotion. It is the red flag that gets raised when you are mistreated. It is normal. It is the alarm bell that goes off when situations are unfair or need rectifying. It is like the check-engine light of your emotional world. Something is out-of-whack.
When things that are perfectly normal get disapproved of, it is like putting duct tape over your check-engine light. Your car is about to die. In the middle of the freeway. And you don’t know. It will be a shock.
I got out of Goodwill because of their unfair treatment of me and the other good workers in order to defend the poor workers. The situation is bad. But, a few years ago, I might have stayed indefinitely. I would have blamed my feelings instead of listening to them. I am not big on obeying every whim, but I am now at a place in life where I know that emotions are information. Something is trying to get through to me.
Thank you, Gabor Mate. He is the one that showed how auto-immune problems are directly related to suppressed emotions a lot of the time and that that emotional repression is about 80% female. It is more okay for guys to be angry. For women, it is “inappropriate.” And we pay the price physically, emotionally, and in every other conceivable way.
Anger is about having boundaries. It is a key to grieving. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. To not deal with anger is to end all emotional growth and recovery.
It is also a key ingredient of addiction. I wonder now how angry my brothers are, especially my oldest one. When I was a teenager and he was drunkenly slamming doors and basically being an idiot at his own daughter’s birthday party, he was clearly angry at something. My level of understanding at the time was non-existent. It was a dysfunction-orama, one that my mom got mad at me about. As if I was in charge of anything. Perhaps that is the point: in dysfunctional families, no one is in charge. All those emotions and no one is dealing with any of them.
Now it is 2022. My brothers have cirrhosis. The emotions never got dealt with. I am out of the family and my health is better off because of it. I wonder how angry they are now. Now that it is too late to make any meaningful changes, I wonder if anyone is angry about that. I doubt any learning will occur. All I seem to feel anymore is grief.