While reading Brent Simmon’s blog post on his New Years resolution to better channel his anger, it struck me that I’ve been struggling with similar misdirected (and frequently swallowed) anger over the last three years.
It’s also been getting worse. I find myself tipping quickly into anger, then hiding most of it and instead directing into being curt, short and a smart-ass. My family and coworkers might disagree on how well I’ve been hiding it, mind you.
A lot of it - for me especially - comes down to a lack of control. I tend to anger when I expect something to be some particular way and then it isn’t.
Tellingly, the angriest I’ve been in my life was one November night in 2016. We’re talking shouting and banging my car hood and steering wheel angry.
So much of what I’ve been expecting from the outside world is so fundamentally broken that there’s a base level of anger already there since that day.
And now, when something at work doesn’t work the way I expect it to, or my kids don’t do something I expect them to do, or when I realize my wife didn’t empty the dishwasher when I went to bed early last night, I feel this flash of anger - when it really shouldn’t be there.
Work stuff happens because something didn’t get communicated properly and stuff is hard.
My kids have autism and stuff is hard.
My wife had a long day yesterday and didn’t know I was expecting the dishwasher to be empty this morning. It also wasn’t a big deal and I did it instead.
Often, that anger is also self-directed … angry at all the things I’m not doing. This anger’s not really justified either.
These are all just flashes of anger, rarely expressed or escaping from my brain … but they’re there and they’ve been coming more frequently.
And I’m finding that just writing this down is helping more than a little. Admitting that I’ve spent much of the last three years kinda angry all the time is helping.
The other things that have helped include cooking (it’s one reason I’ve been falling deeper and deeper into that particular rabbit hole recently), drinking (alone), sleeping, being alone … all things that allow me to either tune out the world or to exert some level of control.
When I’m alone, I’m in control of what I do - like writing a blog post, for instance.
When I’m cooking, I’m in control.
When I’m in control, the anger fades.
It’s early in 2020, and the world spins further out of control … but I’m going to continue to find avenues where I can have at least the illusion of control, some hard center of certainty in the midst of all the madness and anger to come.