Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right

I don’t really get angry. Not historically, at least; bad things would happen to me, and I would simply suck it up, accept it as my lot and continue onwards a little bit more hurt, a little bit more grudgeful.

I’m not sure how that attitude got started, and I’ve spent countless therapy sessions trying, believe me. Was I trying not to be a bother to anyone as a kid? Maybe; I don’t remember being a particularly angry child, though, just one eager to be noticed and adored for being helpful and funny. (Not joking about the helpful thing, though — my childhood love of Power Man And Iron Fist comics inspired me to declare that I had started a business called “Helpers For Hire,” based on that series’ Heroes For Hire conceit.)

I wasn’t an especially angry teen, either. Teenage angst reared its head, of course, because I was a teenager and, worse, one beset with acne bad enough to place me on a drug trial for something that never made it to market. But that didn’t make me angry, just sad and lonely and withdrawn, retreating to comics and a small group of close friends despite whatever crushes and curiosities made me want to reach out further to the world at large.

As an adult, anger remained absent. Again, I’d get frustrated and sad and all these alternate emotions, but everything would turn inwards and become self-blame and self-shame. Why get mad at other people (things, events) when I could just get upset at myself and think that I probably deserved it, after all? Not that that was healthy or helpful, because it wasn’t, but such things were never in my head; I just assumed things were my fault on some cosmic level for mysterious reasons that might be the same as those that kept me from feeling anger. Like I said, there’s been a lot of therapy time spent investigating the roots of all of this, with no real conclusions yet.

(That I was sharing my life with someone who was equally happy to blame me when things went wrong or undermine my self-worth didn’t help, of course. But I didn’t realize that for a long time, either.)

I mention all of this because, as I write, I’ve had a particularly stressful week, and very little of it — if any — was my fault. In dealing with it, I’ve found myself getting angry for once and, even more shockingly, expressing that anger to both those responsible and loved ones (not directed towards the latter, thankfully). It’s been a freeing experience in some ways, an educational one in others. But, more than anything, it’s been exhausting. Anger may be, as John Lydon once swore, an en-err-gee, but it’s also something that saps energy, too.

Anger, perhaps, is a young person’s game. No wonder the children are the future.

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