Monday, October 19, 2009


One of the realizations that set me toward creating this particular blog in this particular month was connected to an aspect of my personality I have long struggled with: anger.

I think most people who know me would be surprised to hear I consider myself an angry person. Or would be unused to thinking of me in that way. In fact, I have shared that info with friends and gotten disbelieving and confused responses.

But... truth be told, anger is something I have struggled with for a long time, and my ability to redirect it and/or express it in the most diplomatic way possible (usually) is the result of many years of concerted effort.

The sad part, for me, is knowing that the public face and persona I share is much more evolved than the private one. I fear my family and closest friends receive the brunt of my anger and often are at the difficult end of my least compassionate and diplomatic moments. I'm not sure why that is; perhaps I believe I can slack off around them... or I have a fundamental trust they will love me no matter what I may say or do... that, ultimately, all is forgiven.

This is, of course, unfair and not too kind on my part. Maybe even presumptuous and arrogant.

So... I had come face to face, again, with my anger recently - most notably in the form of impatience. Impatience with my husband, with my daughter, with my parents. And I began to really think about it. Where does it come from? How is that connected to my sense of self? Why do I feel able/allowed/at liberty to express such a lack of compassion or kindness for those most intimate to me?

The big ah ha I had (which may seem small to you) was recognizing that impatience is a form of ego. The little "i" believing itself to be a big "I" and therefore more important than everyone else in the room.

My impatience arises out of a belief that I am right and others are wrong... that I am trying and others are failing somehow... that my efforts hold merit and others somehow fall flat or short or become inconsequential or not enough in comparison.

All of which is quite lacking in humility, kindness, or empathy.

Sometimes it's hard to look at my own ugliness. Particularly because I am, at heart, a rather insecure person. And so, it's already a struggle to separate the authentic dark spots from the imagined ones. But they are there - the real ones... the ones that warrant scrutiny and sharp, unflinching honesty.

My impatience is a very dark spot on my heart at present. I have become more aware of it, more mindful of it in my day-to-day living, and so it has taken on the presence and steady knocking of a dripping faucet or ticking clock.

I'm not sure I've figured out yet how to change it. The impatience that is rooted in anger that is - I suspect - ultimately rooted in a deep sense of unhappiness... a lack of belief in myself separate from the sought-for or imagined validation of others.

Which is ego. All the way.

If and when you look into your own darknesses, may your courage see you through to a new light, a new perspective, and a new way of being.


  1. Interesting entry on anger. Being male my experience with anger has always been not knowing what the real feeling is that I was feeling. So I would mask it with anger. This is not only a male trait but it is more predominant in males then females.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I could have writen it. I am sitting here feeling like a failure as a mother today. I hate feeling angry, and my ex-husband is all over me about it, but I get so frustrated when I feel like I am trying, and trying and trying (big *I*) and my family is not. But they are just living life and doing OK and it's not all about the I. So I appreciate your honesty!

  3. Yes, thank you for writing this, G. I find the same thing happening in my daily life, all the time. My fuse is so short sometimes, and over the littlest things.

    I think one of the things that helps is to try to assign a reason to the anger -- "I'm angry now, but it's about me, not about [person you're directing the anger toward]."

    It certainly helps your partner. (Especially if you have one - like mine - who is super-sensitive to anger!)

    And it's not up to you to immediately solve the problem. Impatience with your own impatience is only going to compound the problem. :) Being able to take that first step in identifying why you're angry - as you seem to be doing - is so crucial. Just remember to give yourself the leeway to address it slowly and gently, and not beat yourself up about it.

    LOVE you.

  4. M.A.C. - love what you are saying about the "real feeling" that gets masked with anger. One aspect of my counseling training focused on this feeling-swap so many of us engage in. We deem certain emotions as being "negative" or off-limits in some way, and so we deny them to ourselves. BUT we still feel them... so instead, we label it in some other way or express something slightly different but more socially acceptable. Sometimes it helps me to double-check myself when I'm super upset and just try to pare everything away so I can honestly identify whatever emotional state I happen to be in. Thank you so much for your insightful comment!

    Kelly - so glad it helped! Anger and motherhood are a terribly challenging mixture. We assume, I think often, that we cannot be angry as mothers. Or, if we are, then we are bad mothers. But... anger is a natural emotion along the spectrum and it often masks a deeper emotion that may take more time or introspection to identify (as M.A.C. pointed out). I don't know if it would help, but I truly have found the book Momma Zen to be incredibly helpful in this regard. The author is so honest about the many emotions and struggles we have as parents - and provides suggestions, insight, etc. into how to thoughtfully and mindfully address all the challenges that come with parenting. I would highly recommend it!

    Rachel - I love you too. So so so much. And I love what you said about being patient with yourself. So so so true. If we cannot show ourselves compassion in the process of our frailties and human failures, we are so much less able to succeed and triumph. It's such a paradox, sometimes, to note how freely we can empathize with or show compassion to others in the midst of their suffering... and yet, so many of us refuse to show the same kindness to ourselves. Those are wise words, my friend. I LOVE YOU!