Anger has been part of my narrative for as long as I can remember. I'm considered a pretty happy and optimistic person. When Anger is as engrained in your identity as it is in mine, it's scary how...easy it can be. Like an old friend.
An old, decrepit, poisonous friend.
The kind of friend you thought was good for you at first. It was easy with them; you always got along so well, had so much in common. Then, after years of thinking you were best friends, close as siblings even, they turn around and stab you in the back. It's only then that you realize that your "friend" was never there for you. You were there for them, and all they needed from you was the energy and attention you gave them. Anger used you like a parasite until you had nothing and no one left.
It's only after that you realize. After that you see how damaged Anger has left you and the people who were unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire.
I remember childhood anger about the letters on the alphabet rug. The fury in my little body as someone dared to sit on the "B"--my letter. The embarrassment of being told to "let it go" and that "it's not a big deal."
"You shouldn't get yourself worked up," they would say when the tears would inevitably come. "You'll make yourself sick."
Even at that age, I did make myself sick. I was disgusted with myself for how I acted, how immature I was being about things that weren't a big deal in the long run. I've never been able to see the forest for the trees. Little details derailed and ruined my days. My only relief seemed to come in counseling. That brief time, with the couch and the feelings chart, the kindness of my counselor. I thought I had it handled, but all I had learned was how to stuff down my feelings.
Middle school was the worst. Puberty and crushes and the beginnings of expectations that kids that age should not have to endure. The judgment of standardized testing, the expectation of perfection. And I still had it good. I'd always been a nearly straight-A student until sixth grade. Even then, it was only a blip before I was back on track.
But there were always expectations. Never wanting to let anyone down. Wanting everyone to notice and be proud of me. I was always going somewhere, doing something, repeating patterns into high school.
Stuff down the anger. Rinse. Repeat.
Until the cup is full, then OUTBURST
Stuff. Rinse. Repeat. OUTBURST.
The anxiety of a cycle I figured would always be a part of my life. The fragile state of my mind, keeping busy to distract from distractions. Distract from my inner world. Distract from my ANGER.
College was better, got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. Got some meds. Solution seemed easy enough.
The cycle remained. Dormant at times, but always still there, waiting for the next outburst to precede the guilt, shame, disgust with myself and my lack of control.
Years of ups and downs, years of my normal being chaotic.
Comfort in anxiety and rage.
ADHD gave me more concrete terms for what I was feeling. It wasn't just irritability. It wasn't just a lack of self-control.
Emotional Dysregulation. ADHD choice paralysis. Impulsivity. Dissociation.
I'm not crazy. I'm not lazy. My brain is wired differently. I need different tools to cope with emotions. Not everyone deals with this, and I don't have to suffer feeling trapped in my anger anymore. Therapy is a revelation.
Not everything is perfect.
(I wrote this on two different days)
My body learned to shut down when it's angry. Like an overheating computer.
My coping skills are my cooling system. It's a work in progress.
Anger does not have to define me.