Sunday, April 04, 2010

Which Came First, the Victim or the Anger?

It is no shock to most of my family that both my son and I have what we shall call "anger management" issues. Heck my daughter may have them too but at three years old, the state of being outraged at the world seems pretty normal. Like, Oh My Gosh My Pony Tail Is Falling Down!! The future looks bleak for my calm, mellow, introverted hubby.

Again, if you asked my family, they would probably regale you with stories of Heather's Temper. I remember it too, but probably not as well since anger tends to boil up your memories into a pot of remembered injustices and the sneaky voice that tells you how horrible your life is and how wholly unfair the world can be. It took me a long, long time to get my temper under control. I masked it for a while. I could seethe and rage quietly and then stalk off and deal with it in whichever way I felt necessary. There was a pattern of self destructive behaviours that repeated themselves all the way through my teenagehood and into my early twenties.

But I've dealt. There has been a lot of prayer. A lot of grace. A lot of starting over. Thankfully my husband is still along for the ride... it will be five years of wedded blitz this September.

Earlier I spoke about the fact that I started taking Cipralex, medication for anxiety/depression to treat Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Well, then there was that little WHOOPS called baby #3. And the Lord Sayeth No More Cipralex. I know there are other options, but I'm not ready to try them and deal with the side effects while dealing with morning sickness and the (really, truly called) hundred day cough.

But I had an epiphany this week. One that has left me reeling - in a good way. I read an article about Ladakh: A Society with No Bullies and I found this line:

What few people understand is that anger is a victim feeling. We only get angry when people do things against us.

I had never though of anger that way before. I mean, with all my son's social skills issues I'd said to him "when you get mad like that, you let someone control your reactions" but they were words. I didn't get it. I didn't understand.

Of course it is! Of course it is! I can't believe I've never connected the dots.

(You may be thinking I'm a simpleton right about now, but let me explain...)

My anger has been a defensive mechanism, a way to prove that I cannot be hurt, that I will win, that I'm tougher and stronger and super woman/mom/wife and a way to reassure myself that I'm still in control. When a neighbour makes a judgement about me, I get angry because Who Does She Think She Is and I Should Show Her and I rant to my husband... but it wasn't about the crazy neighbour lady... it was about me. It was about proving to myself that I was still ok, I was still a good person, I was still whole. The anger was the wall that went up so I could take my own inventory and think "yep, we're all good in here".

I was acting like a victim. Someone Has Done Something To Me. WTH. Life Isn't Cool. I Have Been Angered!

I don't like being a victim. That feels weak. That feels powerless. That feels life fear.

(I'm going to go a little religious on you all now, bear with me!)

I'm a new creation. I'm saved. I'm forgiven so that I can forgive. The same power that raised Christ, resides in me. The spirit of Christ, lives in me. I can't harbour the feelings of fear and powerlessness because the spirit of Christ cancels that crap out. It's incompatible.

And plus, being a victim doesn't help anyone. It simply identifies the wronged party. And even if I'm legitimately wronged, living like a victim (living with anger) doesn't do anyone a bit of good. It doesn't even bring justice. It brings pain and hurt and multiplies it. Exponentially sometimes.

Before, I could justify being angry. I could weigh the wrong against my reaction and think, yeah, I'm the one who is RIGHT here.

Now, I can't justify being a victim.

And I can look my son in the eye and tell him that he's not a victim either.

(Now, there is a thing called righteous anger. See Temple, Moneychangers, Jesus. But that topic is for another day.)

1 comment:

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Thank you for sharing your story Heather. Someone close to me has anger management issues also. It takes HUGE guts to address it, like you have! It's comforting to know there are success stories like yours out there.