If my friends don’t have a running bet on when I’ll lose my tempter next, they should. I’m infamous for being positive and lacking in a temper. “Patient as a saint” is a phrase that has been used to describe me more than once. Only one person has successfully made me yell at them in recent memory, and that’s after undermining both me and my superiors on every turn, missing work or showing up inebriated, and inflicting an injury on me due to negligence that caused a gauge in my hand so deep I probably should have gone to the hospital for, but as it stands I’ll probably always have the scar.
There are lots of reasons why I don’t get mad, but since I’ll get yelled at if I talk about them – ironic, I know – I’ll just say that I have been exposed to enough shouting to know that I don’t like it. It’s hard to get angry if you literally and figuratively run away from arguments. Angry people scare me – irrationally so – to the point that when LARPing together, Husband has to take me aside after particularly charged moments to reassure me it’s all pretend to stop me from shaking. I’ve made it a point to learn how to diffuse situations, and talk people down. I’m also a pro at taking one for the team – that is, letting other people do things that would make other people angry, but just make me smile bigger.
There’s a problem inherent in this, of course: if a person never allows themselves to experience normal human emotion, there’s a buildup. I’m just waiting for the day that the pin is pulled on my temper and I all but explode on whoever pisses me off. One friend informed me that by assuming the other person won’t be able to handle my rage I’m basically insulting everyone, but funnily enough, I don’t care. I would rather insult everyone and they not know it than ostracize a handful of people and gain myself a reputation other than the one I have right now.
There are days – and people, and situations – that make me wish I could Hulk out sometimes. Just completely lose my temper, regardless of who is on the receiving end. My walls and technology really could use a break. I know repressed energy is a thing because I experience it in little ways. My tiny laptop lags and I want to chuck it across the room and bash it into tiny pieces; my earbuds get tangled and I want to rip those suckers apart. Little things cause undue frustration and end up on the floor or ignored for a time. Singing helps, but I can only do that if I’m alone in the house. Snuggling Husband helps, but obviously that’s not an option when Husband is in another country. What would help the most, though, is learning how to get angry.
Getting angry is not a thing that I should rule out as firmly as I do. I know this, but it’s easier said than done. Putting a dampener on my temper for so long has created too effective an off-switch. At this point, it’s a matter of learning when and where standing up for myself and getting angry are the same thing, and what exactly anger means. I’ve witnessed shouting, and sarcasm, and violence. All these things I can do, but I’m scared to unleash them. I know it can be effective in driving points home – it’s a normal human reaction, after all. I’ve been told that my lack of anger has made people think my feelings are not as strong as they were, which has in turn caused me harm, but I wish there were a place I could unleash my rage safely without worrying I’m going to get myself hurt. Don’t we all, right?
The same friend that told me I was insulting others by not getting angry also told me that I have the tendency to let people walk all over me – that I let people treat me badly – because I never let myself get upset at others for any kind of slight. This is an accurate measure of my most irritating character flaw. My friends and I were discussing a situation recently that quite rightly started to make me feel anger at the way I’d been treated, and my automatic reaction was to laugh. As if I found it funny. It turned into a sort of hysteria on my part, half crying, half laughing, while it felt like something inside me was breaking. The desperate need to get angry but the very distinct beginnings of hysteria that always follow a feeling of upset disturbs the flow of emotions, thus blocking any ability to heal I might have. If I can’t get angry, how can I get over it?
This is probably my biggest argument for allowing myself to get angry: anger, like most things in life, must run its course. If we stop it every time, we’re just building up a collection of things that we’ll have to deal with eventually, but later, all these things will be a giant cluster rather than a one-incident-at-a-time thing. Sure, it sucks to get mad, and it’s difficult sometimes to know if anger is the correct response, but maybe that’s the point. Not to say we should all fly off the handle all the time, but in the face of true injustice, and in the face of utter defeat, it is ok to be angry sometimes. Just make sure to get mad at the right people.
And no, the right people do not work behind the counter at your local coffee shop, so stop yelling at the poor barista that spelt your name wrong.