Expressing Anger … and Finally Letting Go

by Rebecca A. Watson on February 8, 2014

in change, life

I’ve got a friend who’s going through some shit. Her boyfriend of several years dumped her without warning last week. They were looking to buy a house. He brought up having kids with her. “Dazed” is the word she’s used to describe her situation.

Scratch that. I’ve got several friends struggling right now. One is trying to figure out how to get her elderly dog (read: her child) to the other side of the world for a move. Another’s father-in-law is struggling with dimentia, and I just got off the phone with another who told me her dad was diagnosed with cancer. He’s got a good chance of getting rid of it, but it doesn’t make the news any easier.

I also know several people online that I’ve never met in person going through hard stuff right now. I’m a sober penpal along with Belle over at Tired of Thinking About Drinking, and some of my penpals are struggling with moves, relationship changes and funerals.

And in the middle of all of that stands me. At least that’s how I look at it since I’m the observer. For the longest time I thought the only way to be there for people when they were struggling was to drop everything and “do” for them. Can I clean your house? Can I write that letter? Can I run that errand? Let me be the glue that holds this all together. I am your rock.

rock

The truth is, not only is that really not healthy for me, most people aren’t really interested in me taking over their lives. I heard something on The Bubble Hour the other day:

“People pleasing is the sneakiest form of manipulation.”

I so agree.

But there’s something else I just realized: I’m going through some shit. I’m losing my best and only friend in a country where I barely speak the language. And although I’ve been given a huge opportunity by my (super-sexy, awesome) benefactor, I am letting go of a business that I’d worked to build for the last few years.

I was in German class earlier this week and got a little emotional about it all. That, and the fact that German is just plain maddening. One of my classmates, also a bright-eyed optimist, said, “Du musst kein Ärger haben,” or “You must not be angry!”

Normally this guy and I get along really well, but as I left class for the day, I was pissed at him. It took me a second to realize that really, I was mad at myself. There is a part of me that will NOT let me have what I consider to be negative emotions.

Even when I'm being serious, I've got a smile on my face.

Even when I’m being serious, I’ve got a smile on my face.

I call this the “Yes, but” part of my brain. A lot of times I really like YB, as it helps me see the brighter side of a situation and keeps me disciplined. For instance:

Me: God, I really don’t wanna go for a run.
YB: Yes, but once you’re done it’s going to feel so good.

But when I started to get pissed about everything, YB was the voice in my head I wanted to silence. All I wanted to do was FEEL this anger. And YB just wasn’t comfortable with that. A sample of the conversations in my head:

Me: What am I gonna do when Amy leaves? I will have no friends. I am already lonely. This is so shitty.
YB: Yes, but you can make new friends. At least you have Sante.
Me: OMG. Shut. The eff. Up!

Me: Why did we decide to move to a country where the language is so damn difficult? I should just hide in the house and never speak again.
YB: Yes, but at least you have the opportunity. Not many people get that. And other languages will seem easier when you learn those.
Me: I seriously wish you would just die right now.

Me: God it’s so frickin’ cold. Why did we move to this god-foresaken place? We lived in paradise for christ’s sake!
YB: Yes, but at least it’s not as cold as Minnesota. And it doesn’t even really snow. It’s basically the same as California.
Me: Have you lost your damn mind?

(YB also wanted to remind me that I just have first-world problems. And they’re nothing like the issues my friends are facing. To this I replied with something I read in Reading Lolita In Tehran: “…somehow there was little consolation in the fact that millions of people were unhappier than we were. Why should other people’s misery make us happier or more content?”)

After awhile YB did shut up and I finally felt allowed to get pissed. For a good 30 minutes I stomped around the house, cleaning in a rage while being annoyed at our neighbor’s monster children (They’re constantly screaming and crying. They’re going to be great actresses some day, I’m sure of it.), being afraid about whether or not I’m author material, and of course, all of the above.

And it felt really good. Righteously good. And just like the devil in The Usual Suspects, it was gone. I couldn’t believe it. Usually all this stuff — my anger, my fear, my irritation — rubs at me for days while I try to get on with my day. And keep in mind this was right after I returned from vacation, so I was preparing for my inevitable post-vacation blues.  

What goes up must come down.

What goes up must come down.

It came and went in a half an hour. I was flabberghasted. Really? I mean, I’d heard before that if you stop resisting something it will flow through you so much faster, but I’d never really experienced it. Not like this. 

Add that to the fact that I could very easily shrug off an icky letter from family I’m not close with anymore, and this week has been a banner one for me and letting go. So I guess that brings me back to all my friends and their stuff.

Am I the rock for them? Or the glue? Rocks sink bodies more easily than they build houses. And glue is just something to get stuck in. So I guess I have to figure out a new way to be there. Sending good vibes, saying prayers and just listening are good starts I know.

kindness cat

And then there’s just being the best person I can be. Because if I can learn to feel an emotion and deal with the bad situations I’ve been handed, then I’m pretty sure almost everyone else can too.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly February 8, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Awesome entry and a major congrats on having time to write! I’ve been impressed with my husband of 5 years’ ability to let things go. He tends to get angier about things than I do, but also to get over them days if not weeks ahead of me. I’ve recently been observing my own emotions from a place of non judgement. I find myself understanding my emotions more clearly and letting go of them much easier. I also, subsequently, understand myself better and support myself in what I do (instead of thinking ” you shouldn’t feel this way or that way”). It’s great stuff!

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Rebecca A. Watson February 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Thanks so much Molly 🙂 I think non-judgement is super important when it comes to dealing with emotions, but it’s not so easy. Way to go…I love that because of that you’re changing your way of thinking. Less “shoulding” on yourself.

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