Friday, May 23, 2014

Ghosts? Rollercoasters? Nothing. This? SCARY.

This post is a little different from my usual fare.

Here's a picture of a squirrel hitting the bottle
so you'll know it's still me.

It's just that I had a bit of a revelation, and rather than quietly contemplate it, I thought I'd broadcast my inner thoughts to the Internet. Because that's what exhibitionists bloggers do.

I've realized that I'm afraid of anger. I actively fear that emotion. Oh, I'm not afraid of being angry - there's an actual term  for that, by the way (it's called angrophobia), and that's not what I'm talking about. I may not enjoy getting angry, and I frequently regret it when I do. But a long time ago I accepted, if not embraced, that I have a temper and often fail to keep it. Also, I have a hard time expressing anger appropriately, because I'm a chick with issues.

But afraid of my own anger? Nah. I own that shit.

I'm just scared witless of other people's anger. As an abstract emotion, it makes me quiver like a flavored gelatin dessert.

You know the one.

And it's not that I have a problem with someone being angry at me. Or rather, I do, but maybe not for the reason you'd think.

Anger very often expresses disapproval or censure, and current psychology says that those are the things most of us are really afraid of. Personally, I reject that idea. I mean, disapproval and censure aren't great things. But I can handle them. I totally understand how someone could be pissed off at the things I say or do.

I can be sort of infuriating.

It's the anger itself that gets to me. I can't deal with the dark intensity of that particular emotion. Not even when it's not directed specifically at me. Especially then, in fact. When someone gets mad at me, and either yells at me or gives me the silent treatment, it makes me feel as if I'm falling to my death, but at least there's an outcropping of context for me to hold on to. Whether it's justified or not, the anger has some real or perceived connection to me, and I can look at it and decide how to react.

But when someone is simply angry around me, I lose it. I don't know what to do with someone else's anger. I reflexively believe it's my fault. Therefore, it's my responsibility to fix the problem/and or soothe away the anger. And if I can't do it (how could I?), then I take the blame for that, as well.

It makes me feel terrible, partly because it's an irrational feeling. But it's like burning yourself on the stove: If it hurts enough, you start to be scared of the stove. The stove didn't set out to hurt you, and it's not as if the stove is an inherently scary thing. But you still involuntarily shudder when you think about it.

That face doesn't doesn't help.

And I know that it's a problem with boundaries. I know that people around me have every right to feel angry, and that it doesn't necessarily reflect on me, and their anger is not a burden I have to shoulder every time I see it in front of me. There's a line between empathizing with other people and blindly internalizing their every emotion, no matter how negative.

I don't know where to draw that line. I don't even have the emotional canvas to draw the line on. On which to draw the line. Whatever. I don't even have an easel to hold that canvas.

Or the studio space to house the easel to...
You get the idea.
So I find the idea of anger kind of terrifying. And, as many of us do when we find something terrifying, I tend to avoid it. Which means I end up unable to communicate with, and subsequently withdrawing from, people I care about.

And that makes me angry.

Which at least I can handle. But it's a zero-sum game.

Now I'm angry and scared and sad.

No wonder people get pissed off at me.

1 comment:

  1. You remind me of this song.

    (In case the link doesn't work, it's _Scar_ by Papa Roach.)


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