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Friday, November 6, 2009

Ka-BOInnnnnngggg!

That's the sound my mind is making lately.  I got really angry a few days ago, and actually did something adult and mature with it.  I've been stepping back, taking stock of everything in my life that is ticking me off and from which I deserve better.

Important: this isn't some kind of whiny, entitled, "gimme gimme" anger, although certainly I've fallen prey to that before.  No.  This is me looking around and deciding that I'm going to make things into the kind of "better" that I've decided I deserve.

Betcha didn't know that anger and depression are related, did you?  In some cases, depression is nothing less than (and nothing more than) the exhaustion you get from holding anger back, or turning it inward on yourself (which is really draining, trust me on this). I've found that staying angry can be tiring, too, but not nearly as much as trying not to be angry when you by golly ought to be.

Depression can come from a sense of powerlessness, of time spent beating your head against a wall and somehow hoping that this time things will be different.  Of time spent trying desperately to affect things that are utterly and totally beyond your control (like, say, how other people behave, or whether they choose to respect you, or even like you).  Let me tell you, anger is really, really good at demolishing that feeling.  When you get pissed off enough, you can't help but say to yourself, and maybe your inner demons and baggage, and maybe even people around you, "Oh yeah?  Yeah??  Well, watch this, you big jerk."

[Pause.  I'm listening to Peter Gabriel on my iPod just now, and discovering once again that the iPod's speakers are way better than the ones in the minivan or on my computer. I shall be basking in the richness of sound and enjoying nuances heretofore unheard for about the next... 4 minutes and 10 seconds.]

*happysigh*

Something people probably don't know about me.  I've had, for pretty much my entire adult life, a real problem with determination, and motivation.  Determination to me has always felt way too much like anger, and I grew up thinking that anger was bad, categorically and pretty much universally.  I've struggled to find motives rooted in something else, anything else, other than anger.  Delight has worked.  Shiny new exploration has worked, until the thing stopped being shiny and new. Spiritual joy has worked, when I've been able to find it.  And, you know, looking around for other sources of inspiration has been a good thing, I think, in that I've gotten pretty good at seeking out the bliss in a given situation, and I've gotten really good at walking away from soul-draining suckitude and mediocrity.

But.

Anytime I started to feel like it was time to dig my heels in, be stubborn, say, "I'm gonna make this work, dammit, just you watch" - you know, show some determination - I'd scare myself right off of whatever I was doing.

Except now (cue the trumpets), da-da-da-DAH, I have a shrink!  Okay, yes, I'm being flip; but it's helping a lot to learn that A), yes, I'm not wrong, anger and determination are related, but B), that isn't bad.  Anger isn't evil.  Anger isn't anything different from happiness - it's an emotion.  You feel it, and you use it to accomplish things.  How you use it can be pretty unhealthy, but so can all the ways people have of running after happiness.

I don't know many people whose homework assignment from their shrink is to actually be angry for a change, but it seems to be working.  And it's why the title of this post is "ka-boing" and not "grrr".  Ideas are everywhere right now, to the extent that I'm actually at risk of losing the anger for lack of a single target to aim it at.  I've got an idea for a class to teach, the winter market proposal to complete, and a house to tear apart and reconfigure - which means everything from sorting and tossing useless crap, to doing laundry, to rearranging furniture, to painting, to tearing out and replacing light fixtures, cabinet doors, carpet, the whole thing.

Oh, and a marriage to work on - it's apparently way easier to have a marriage when both people are acting like grown-ups, can you believe it?  And a kid to parent - ditto the acting like a grown-up.

I just hope talking about it all here won't jinx it, dilute my focus, and keep me from doing anything (again).

So tell me.  Have you hugged your anger today?

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