Righteous Anger (but I really don't want to be angry)

If you know me, I hate being angry.

I'm afraid of anger. I will shut down and retreat to reboot my brain when I start going into fight-flight-freeze mode and am afraid of my words causing wounds. I will disassociate from situations that make me angry, or actually physically remove myself.

Even just a few months ago, I was getting so irritated and...angry? in completely innocuous and mildly stressful work situations. It then developed into depression and then I ended up in the psych ward kind of by accident. I could not understand why I felt that way.

Why? Why was I getting so irritable?

Also, to me, anger is rage. Red-to-white rage, because that is the color of my dad's face when he rages. Yelling is anger. Words are poison darts into your heart, and spankings are always done in a blind rage.

I've found that my definition of "anger" is not other peoples' definition. Apparently there are shades of anger. Annoyances can be "God, Sally made me so angry today when she rearranged the office refrigerator." Yet I know these people, and they don't rage when they say they are angry.

My brain cannot compute.

I see most anger as bad. I have a hard time fathoming a "good" anger. But other people know there is such thing as righteous anger. When you or a loved one has been wronged, you get angry for a good reason, to set something right. It doesn't mean yelling, but it might mean pointedly having a conversation over the phone or in person until the other party understands why they are wrong.

So, anger, because it is inexorably tied to memories of my dad's rages, has been stuffed deep inside. It's partly out of practice.

I wasn't allowed to be angry. My moods had to be either happy, or...well, happy.

It had to be sugar-coated with female propriety and "children must be seen, not heard" and "obey thy father and mother" ideology.

Some time ago, I felt engulfed by a dark cloud, whose name is Grief.

Lately, I keep feeling crazy inside. I couldn't think of another word to describe it except crazy--the feeling where you feel so unsafe and uncomfortable with yourself because you find yourself feeling emotions that have been walled up by disassociation for years and years until those walls start dissolving. It's the feeling that makes me want to hurt myself just to make it go away, or to help myself feel real and alive or to distract myself from the emotional pain.

Last night, I think I found out the name for part of the crazy feeling. It's Anger.

I wanted to hit and punch and kick something so hard--like one of those pads we used in self defense class in my undergrad that just rings when you hit it just right. I followed my therapist's advice--try to figure out the age. Even though I can't remember the memory, I can usually know at what age I experienced that feeling.

I felt it from when I was very small, up to early elementary school years. A little bit in high school, witnessing my siblings' spankings. Certainly I've been angry since, but this particular anger--it is a self-defense anger. It's why I wanted some punching pads.

Dad pushing the pillow I tried to use to cover up my butt angrily out of the way and smacking me even harder because I tried to cushion the blows. Me watching my brother get spanked the most angrily I've ever seen dad spank just because my brother dared giggle. Me watching dad yell at another brother and then make him pull down his pants and bend over the couch for a spanking, and....then joke, "April Fools!" laughing so hard while my brother went through all the emotions while hiking up his pants.

I wanted to kick and punch and fight and defend myself then, all those times. I wanted to go after him when he started raging and acting aggressively and defend my siblings. I wanted to fight. So badly. But I couldn't, because he was always bigger and stronger than the little version of me.

I have almost no memory of the spankings, except the anger I felt, and the anger I felt coming off of him.

When I feel crazy, when I feel like hurting myself, it's that anger again.

And I'm really uncomfortable with that realization and with the idea of having to work through it. Can't I sweep it into a closet and call it good enough? I want to keep pretending it doesn't exist--can I, please?

But I know the answer already--I need to work through the anger. The righteous anger, in order to acknowledge what was done to me and what I witnessed, in order to properly process everything that was once boarded up securely in their own little disassociation spaces.


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