06 July 2009

Many and Various

At last it is cool. It won't last, but I'm enjoying it while it exists.

I had a friend over for a cuppa today, and partly as a result of our discussion I've been thinking about anger (we didn't get angry at each other, but we discussed how people deal with anger). I've always thought the best way to deal with anger was to control it and deal with it rationally; that seems to me both more dignified and more effective. At the same time, I'm usually able to understand why people might have behaved in the ways they have, and that really undermines anger, no matter how much one might wish to get angry. There's something unfair, it seems to me, about getting angry at someone for behaving in a way that you can make sense of: that behaviour becomes an understandable mistake, and I, at least, have been taught that what you can understand you can, and should, forgive.

The problem is, though, that understanding doesn't make the anger dissipate. I can understand perfectly well why someone did something, and because of that in some way be robbed of the righteousness of my anger, but not of my anger itself. And I've been wondering lately if, in light of that, there isn't something to be said for letting out one's anger. Comprehension doesn't seem to reduce certain angers; nor does talking to oneself about the anger, or its causes. I know we're supposed to work through anger, or accept it and move on, but what if part of moving on is effected by screaming at the person who made us angry? Obviously I'm not talking about going ballistic for every anger, but what if, say, someone lied to you in a particularly hurtful way? Or was thoughtless in an important way? Or did something that made you feel you didn't matter at all to them? (yes, all these have happened to me in my time.) These are things one can rationally discuss with that other person - "It hurt me when you xxx..." - but that talking is often not as effective at assuaging your rage as screaming at them for a few seconds would be. So perhaps in certain situations one could scream. And should.

I think maybe anger is a response that represents the self crying out for its rights, and for its right to be respected and to have some significance. I have a good deal of will, and I'm very determined, but I'm also incredibly timid when it comes to my interactions with others, and very obliging and abnegating ("too decent," my friend M` would say). As it happens, there are a lot of angers I never express, and I sometimes worry that when I don't express them I'm allowing myself to matter a little bit less, every time. I already feel that I don't matter very much (which is why I don't get angry in interpersonal relationships very much - one angry outburst and the other person will just walk away to that other, better person), and I worry that when I sit there and decide an anger doesn't matter, or a certain kind of treatment is forgivable, what I'm doing is withdrawing my rights, and my value, a little more. And maybe this is true of all significant anger: that the answer is not to let it go, in the Buddhist or Catholic or just timid way, but to find the source of that anger, scream at him or her, and then let it go (optimal, I suppose, would be to have the sensible talk, then inform the person that you were going to scream at them, then scream). Because I think in a funny way anger is not a negative emotion all the time: sometimes it's a positive emotion because it's yelling, "Pay attention to how you treat me! I am better than this treatment."

Also, my father (of all people! King of Suppressed Rage) once told me that I had a lot of suppressed rage. I have a lot less than I had then, largely because I learned to get angry about fewer things, but maybe I would have less if I let some out - the ones that are worth getting angry about. Alas, the last thing I had to be truly enraged about occurred months ago, and it's a bit too late to get enraged about it now. What are you supposed to say? "A long time ago you treated me really really badly, and now I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore"? It doesn't quite work, does it? Well, I'll have to get enraged next time a rage-worthy thing comes along. Something to look forward to, eh?

I'm writing this looking out my window, and flying beetles keep thumping against the glass then falling to rest on the outside window ledge. They look like June bugs (although I don't think they can be, because I believe June bugs don't have wings), and that makes me remember years and years ago, when my mother read me a German book called Peterchens Mondfahrt (Peter's Moon Journey). I was getting too old to be read to, I think, and in any case she had to translate it from the German, so we never made it all the way through, but I remember that one of the main characters was a June bug - with one leg, I believe. I still have the book.

There, now, isn't that much nicer to end on than suppressed or unsuppressed rage?

And here is today's photo:

This is one of the "clothes for fat women" stores in WhereIlive. Obviously, they don't call them clothes for fat women: normally they are called something like "Women's Sizes," or "Clothes for Real Women" (to give kudos to WhereIlive, this store employs no such patronising euphemism; it's called "Plus Sizes"). There are a lot of these stores in or near WhereIlive, which is entirely fair since there are a lot of Real Women (and Real Men, too. I remember when I first moved here my friend JW mentioning in conversation that when he was 12 "and I went shopping at the big and tall men's shop, they had to take the cuffs of my pants up." I nearly fell off my chair with surprised laughter, because JW is extremely, and handsomely, not someone you would ever imagine to have been "big" [another euphemism]. But he was, and tons of men here are. It's the deep frying and the salt, I believe). I like to stop and look at them whenever I pass one, just to remind myself of what I must be very careful not to be again.

As I was walking toward Target after photographing this shop window, an elderly gentleman with less than the full complement of teeth passed me and said congenially, "You sure look pretty today." Is it my dream to get compliments from elderly somewhat toothless gentlemen? No. But on the theories that beggars can't be choosers and that no compliment should be disdained, I took it with the kind neighborliness he intended and said, "Thank you."

Incidentally, I got a pay as you go phone for the time I'm here, and I got the cheapest phone possible ($9.99). Because of this the phone comes with very few bells and whistles. When I press my "Games and Apps" icon, up comes a little folder that says, "Application." I love it that it doesn't attempt to hide its own limited capabilities. You go, girl!

1 comment:

Rosasharn said...

1. You should read The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner. You'll find it very reinforcing.

2. If you're still mad about that enraging bit of belittlement from months ago, I say, go ahead and be angry. You can always start by saying, this happened a while back but it is still eating at me, and I thought I ought to tell you that YOU SUCK. Feel free to use your own words.