noun: anger; plural noun: angers
a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
We’re taught to control our anger, aren’t we? We’re taught to avoid becoming angered in the first place, and if you can’t ‘control’ your emotions and deign to allow yourself to become angry, you must squelch it as quickly as possible. Anger is an ugly emotion, we’re told. Anger is not acceptable, we’re told. Don’t let anyone see your anger, girls are told. And whatever you do, don’t you DARE cry. Crying is weakness, crying is giving in to your emotions, and you should never do that – push your emotions down, all the way down to the Mariana’s Trench of your soul – no one needs to see that, it’s not befitting your feminine temperament. You, dear girl, especially, are not allowed to be angry.
I call bullshit. I don’t think anger is ugly or bad or wrong or shameful. It takes on many forms and serves many purposes, but for it not to be appreciated for what it really is, is to miss the whole point of it – and by extension – emotions in general. I don’t know about you, but I really detest being told I am too emotional.
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
I’m pretty sure that as human beings, emotion is sort of part of the package, non? I mean, it kind of differentiates us from most other life forms. And, being the sentient creatures we are, it sure as shit follows that if you’re human, you experience emotion. Ipso facto, we are all emotional.
So, the tendency to characterize being emotional as equivalent to being without restraint, weak, sensitive, dramatic, intense, or any other adjective that people sling around with a decidedly negative connotation, is frankly, offensive to me. It’s dismissive and reductive.
I have been told over and over and over that I am emotional. Well, duh, last time I checked, I’m human (see above’s ipso facto). But I’m certain that the qualifier ‘overly’ is implied in that declaration. But is there such a thing? It’s very unlikely that I have more emotion than you, as if it’s quantifiable in the first place. Spoiler: it’s not. And even if it were possible, why is that necessarily a negative characteristic of mine? Trust me, there are others to choose from. Does being ‘too emotional’ make me a bad person? Or hard to love? As it turns out, for some people the answer to that last question is yes.
Emotion scares people. All the emotions – happy and, for lack of a better distinction, not happy – are seen to be, in most contexts, that which should not be expressed. It’s better to just keep that all inside, for yourself, for your physical body and the waves of energy that comprise what we understand to be you, a human being, to absorb. You know, because that doesn’t do anything to us, when we prevent ourselves from fully feeling an emotion, no matter what it is, let alone express it. You’ll be FINE.
I’m a crier. I’m not ashamed. I cry very easily, quite often actually. Not always out of sadness or frustration, sometimes out of happiness. But most often it’s the former. I’ve always explained it this way: it’s not that I’m overly emotional or intensely emotional, or even dramatic, (again, if there even is such a thing) it’s that I just happen to be a person who, when feeling an emotion, can easily identify exactly what that emotion is (harder than you might think) and who can (and does) clearly articulate and communicate to others what that emotion is.
I tell people that my emotions are simply very accessible to me (I imagine them as living just beneath my skin) and I happen to be a gifted communicator. The combination of those facts means that expressing myself and expressing myself well, comes very naturally to me.
I. Am. Angry.
Well, I am a jumble of several emotions currently, but anger is emerging as the frontrunner. I’m fucking pissed.
But I don’t want to push it aside, I don’t want to swallow it down and absorb it into myself, and I don’t care if it’s ugly or not acceptable and I sure as hell will NOT STOP MYSELF FROM CRYING. See how I used all-caps there? Because I’m angry.
My anger, like every other emotion I ever experience, is valuable and deserves its spotlight. You might think it’s a futile, damaging or even pointless emotion, but I don’t see it that way. We may not like seeing people (especially women) angry – which, by the way, WHYYYYYYYYYYYY???? I’m so sick of that shit – but it happens. It’s like a lot of other things about women that we don’t like to talk about, like periods and abortions.
But I’m not going to hide my anger. In fact, I’m going to put it right out there, I might even display it, and most assuredly, I’m going to use it. I am going to use it fuel me. I’m going to ride this groundswell of hot, thick, thorny anger right on into my next chapter. Turns out finally embracing my anger and letting go of that ‘nice girl’ façade is exactly the inertia I needed.
It’s time we all, especially women, re-frame how we regard anger. I’m telling you; it has its advantages. To quote my homies (I never use the word homies, but for some reason it feels right here), the Dixie Chicks:
“I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price, and I’ll keep paying
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time
To go ’round and ’round and ’round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is
You think I should”