It can be a real problem, anger. It makes me angry just thinking how nice life could be if nobody got angry. Who decided we should get angry, and what’s the purpose of it?
You won’t get any answers to that here, because I hate being angry. My nice smooth life turns into one with rocks, clouds and anything else wet, dark or bumpy. I have unpleasant decisions to make and ruffled feelings to soothe. What is the real issue? Should I protest? Carry on breezily? Go silent?
I’m angry tonight, yet not furious. I’m not throwing things or firing off angry emails. I’m not stamping or slamming doors. On the floor beside my bed there’s a book on Mindfulness. I tried to read it a few weeks ago, and failed. Now here I am feeling angry about something, and I bet that book would have some tips. Like, perhaps, being responsible for my own emotions? Thinking of nothing else but the now, of my breath going in and out?
I couldn’t get far with the book, but keep thinking I could start again when feeling calmer. The same thing would probably happen, though — I’d get annoyed, start flipping rapidly through the pages, and finally shut the book and put it down. As always, there’s a core idea that’s sound, but we like to overdo things, take them to extremes and expect miracles to happen. It’s not good.
“It’s impossible to be furious when lying down,” I’ve been told. Well, I should sleep but don’t feel easy in my mind. The reason being there’s a large spider with one foot on the valance. If it was just any spider, I wouldn’t pay attention, but it’s *this* spider. It has a known track record. Twice already I found it lolling in bed with the Little Witness. I put it out on the landing last night, and tonight it was back. I carefully removed it with an old hardback copy of Still Glides The Stream by Flora Thompson, and when I turned round, it had glided off the book and was over by the bed again. I sense it’s waiting for me to turn the light out.
It’s not that I’m scared of spiders. I just don’t pick them up with bare hands, and get a little freaked if one is too intent on me or something I have. It’s worse when it’s in plain sight for ages then suddenly disappears. You wonder if it has disappeared further away… or much closer?
I considered dropping the Mindfulness book on it, then felt ashamed. Forever after, I’d be haunted by its ghost every time I tried to meditate. OK, I don’t think I’ll ever meditate, but the mere word ‘mindfulness’ would put me in mind of myself battering the wee soul to death with a shiny yellow book.
If I went to sleep now, I would worry about where it was, throwing my mind out to every corner of my bed to explore every crease and shadow, and my toes would itch. Much more effective than standard mindfulness at distracting me from my anger, but I think I’d rather be angry…
I read somewhere that we never used to be angry at every little thing when we were younger, but when we got older, anger came to be our first response to things. It is supposed to be an addictive habit that we have to learn to shake.
Just now I wondered….
… ‘habit’ is not the right word, is it? Though there’s an explanation that comes close to it. Perhaps some of our thoughts and attitudes become engrained, and these are what lead to anger. There is also something self-protective about anger… children have others to take care of them, but adults have to take care of themselves. They have learned to be wary, and past experiences may cloud their view. In that context it might not be an addictive habit so much as a survival tool. You’d put the shields up pretty quickly if you weren’t sure of something unknown in space… better safe than sorry!
The following snippet was shamelessly nicked from this article because it made me feel good — and I laughed at the picture it brought to mind:
“Since the typical agoraphobic personality profile shows agoraphobics to be uncommonly intelligent, highly sensitive, creative, conscientious and caring, it is no small wonder why you have chosen to have such a person in your life.
…The agoraphobic in your life will surely appreciate you for your genuine caring.”
(Don’t rattle the box… we bruise easily, and I’m not sure you’d get a refund).
I read recently that most agoraphobics were Type A personalities. I thought “Type A… company directors and multimillionaires!” and was quite taken aback.
I’m annoyed with myself now, because I always knew this can happen to anybody, including folks right at the top. My own doctor said that some years ago. Don’t assume it couldn’t happen to you, unless you’re very firmly in the Type B camp.
I think it’s true that anxiety problems are messages from the body… to say that you’re leading a life that’s not for you, or that there are ‘unresolved issues’. (in my case, a dull and routine job I thoroughly disliked, and ongoing communication difficulties). We’re all supposed to just get on with things, whether we like doing them or not, but there’s a limit. Push those limits at your peril.
I’m also realizing that though I’m more of a Type B personality, (not seeing money, business and career as the gods that others do), I share a lot of aspects with Type A. The following descriptions ring a bell: impatient, competitive, workaholic, perfectionist, disinclined to talk about emotions!!
Well, here I am, talking about emotions, and it’s not easy. But there are times when I won’t talk about something that’s going on… I suppose there are things going on right now that I’m not talking about. Well, this is a blog that’s open to the whole internet; we should all draw a line. But this blog was really set up to discuss trickier issues like this (from my personal perspective).
Personal accounts can be helpful… they ground you in the reality of the people it happens to. I’m somebody’s daughter; somebody else’s sister; a good friend of many others. A list of symptoms issued by a professional doesn’t have quite the same effect… you assume these will only happen to folks you will never meet! People have to know it’s more common (and normal) than they think… and that life doesn’t have to be quite so hard-nosed and unforgiving. I would hate to retreat from this… campaign, if you like… altogether.
I’m impatient at times (apparently a Type A characteristic), and I hate people getting in my way. I put a lot of work into not getting in their way, and feel they should return the favour. I’m also more likely (particularly now that I’m older) to bottle up some of my angry thoughts. My reasons for that are complex; part of it is because I tell myself it would just make things worse if I expressed them. It’s better when others behave better because they want to! And they’re more likely to want to when you haven’t just lectured them. I don’t like being lectured either.
I don’t like competition but it does have a draw for me. Art / photography competition? Ooh, count me in. I get quite enthusiastic about it, and sit up till the wee small hours getting my competition entries absolutely perfect. I want everybody to see what I have done with the subject matter, and knowing that they are dealing with the same subject matter makes it an enjoyable exercise. It’s like a designer pyjama party. Later on, I regret getting involved, generally for personal reasons such as group politics, attitudes and cliquishness making me feel dismissed as a nobody. Or sometimes I know I’ve made a good abstract design, but the other people are only interested in photography and only vote for the photographs.
I work hard at what is important to me. Donny Osmond (who also had problems with anxiety) wrote in his book that he was known for driving himself too hard, even in his personal projects, and that sometimes he wouldn’t even eat or sleep when he needed to, and was swaying with exhaustion at times when he needed to be strong. I know that feeling… too well!
I scored 43 out of 100 on a Type A Personality test:
Your interactions with others, while generally characterized by warmth and tolerance, are also at times tinged with impatience and hostility. When you’re stressed or frustrated, you can lash out at others or end up stewing in anger or frustration. Even your moderate score may put you at risk because this aspect of the Type A Behavior Pattern (TABP) can not only be extremely harmful to relationships, it is also very damaging to your health…
It doesn’t surprise me. Still… those are the negative traits, aren’t they? I would love you to dwell on the more positive ones, because they’re all true too. 🙂 This particular agoraphobic in your life (despite being a moody so-and-so) does try, and she appreciates you for caring.
Well, I finished Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, and had mixed feelings about it. Some of it I agreed with, some of it made me uneasy. Parts of it were uncomfortable reading… descriptions of the hurtful rows couples can have makes you curl up in a ball. It’s not just couples, of course; you can have these painful clashes with anybody whose good opinion you value.
I haven’t had any huge arguments lately, or ruined friendships (that I’m aware of), though the other night I didn’t understand something Mum was trying to say till she blew up and stamped about and threw things. I thought we were having a chummy evening in, so it was a shock. What did I do? Turned out she was asking me to stop playing with the cats, as it was distracting her from the TV. I thought she was saying other things, and kept right on…
It sounds both funny and stupid, but it made me feel quite ill. It reminded me of something on TV about a deaf Dalmatian dog; it couldn’t hear warning growls from other dogs and would keep right on… and got attacked. It haunted me at the time, and I couldn’t help remembering it.
I did some stamping and door-slamming myself (retreating upstairs to watch my own TV), and didn’t forgive Mum for two or three hours.
The book said you can get blazingly angry about something all in an instant, but if you stop and think about it, you realize there’s an underlying emotion such as hurt or fear. People get angry because they feel threatened in some way. I didn’t have to think about it very much, I knew about it already. It came before the anger.
The treatment meted out by other people to their friends and partners is not pleasant reading. It makes me want to reach through the pages and shake some of them till their teeth rattle.
It’s purely opinion, but I was dubious about some things in the book. I giggled when reading about a study of one particular group of patients. Some received therapy along with their treatment; others did not. The ones receiving therapy left the hospital an average of two days earlier than the rest. I said to Mum “do you suppose they were trying to escape?”
“I’m quite sure of it,” she said.
I imagine I would have been one of the schoolchildren hinted at (further along) who consider mediation and therapy at school to be an invasion of privacy. Ironic… here I write to the whole world what I’m thinking, but clam up when therapists/consultants/whoever are talking nicely to me in a quiet room. I even clammed up when the university tutors were trying to discuss my thoughts about things I’d read, which was completely missing the point of having tutors… but that’s by the way.
There was a bit about timid cats catching smaller mice than their more courageous brethren; I took issue with that use of the word ‘courageous’. It’s supposed to mean you’re scared but go for it anyway; not that you weren’t particularly scared and waded joyfully in. Mum said it showed a basic misunderstanding of cat behaviour.
Finally I finished the book and handed it over to her in case she wanted to read it, and she dropped it in the bin. “You’re supposed to make up your own mind about it,” I protested, and she said “I have… I’ve had bits of it read to me!”
Finally she relented and pulled it out again, but I don’t care what she does with it. I’ve begun reading Cat on the Edge by Shirley Rousseau Murphy and it’s wonderful. I already see the hero cat (Joe Grey) as being my own Sharky, though Sharky wasn’t ugly and grey with half a tail. It reminds me how I would go off my chump when he (or any of the cats) disappeared. I could just imagine him doing some of those things… but I won’t give away any more, except to say that the pretty girl cat (Dulcie) reminds me strongly of Delilah. Nobody could be cross with her for any reason.
Am taking it to bed, along with cuddly moose, cuddly mouse etc.
A couple of nights ago I was dreaming my mother was winning lots of prizes for things, and then one day I won something too, so I was able to boast to her about it. A group of people saw something I had done and gave me a special award for my anger. “Anger is something you do VERY well,” said the judge, approvingly.
Well thank you.
A few days ago I was listening to Hugga Wugga on my Muppet Show album. Then last night I had some peculiar dreams – they were verging on hallucinations! Just as I was dropping off to sleep, it seemed to me that a large teddy bear was in bed with me, his long arms draped round my neck. His yellow eyes started to glow softly, and his paws tightened till I was being throttled.
Waking, I broke the bear’s stranglehold, took a couple of deep breaths, and went back to sleep. Just as I was floating off, the same happened. The bear hugged me tighter and tighter till I woke up again, gasping, and pushed him back.
“This is just a dream,” I said to myself. “It will be gone when I go back to sleep.”
Drowsing off again, I choked in the bear’s pitiless grasp, his eyes staring venomously into mine.
“No, no, no!” I thought, rousing for the third time. “I’ve got to wake up a little more.” I turned over on my side, and finally the bear was gone. For the rest of the night I dreamed a confusing whirl of shapes and colours, nothing making sense. I did not feel rested when morning came, and lay for a while thinking “what if that was a message to the human race from all bearkind?”
“Hug! Wug! Wuggy! Wugga! Wuggaaargh!”
Sinister, you’ll agree…