Having a temper is discouraged in our society. We lean towards terms like ‘easy going’ and ‘laid back,’ giving a nonchalant attitude towards the rare anything that could anger us. A temper is confused for cruelty or meanness. I’m definitely guilty of taking pride in my ability to excuse the irksome and I constantly try to overlook others poor behaviour when my irritation is already being cheaply ignored. The description of ‘easy going’ is very much me in many ways, but there are exceptions.
I’m a clean person. So being surrounded by chaos or disorganization pushes me to a new level cleanliness that could only be described as Molly Maid perfection. That can hardly be called easy going! An easy going person would just shrug and toss a pair of dirty socks into the mess, assuming it’ll have its time to be reckoned with; a gift for future-me to deal with. But I’m not easy going about the condition in which I live. People have many facets and each of us have a thing that can and will get under our skin. How we respond to it says a lot about us, but generally, those that react in anger are judged and resented for their inability to mask it. That’s really what it is to deny a temper, isn’t it? It’s a deception, a carefully controlled and masked emotion to protect our reputation as a calm and laid back person. Out of fear or embarrassment we neglect the fury that could be asking us to just be pissed and then condone the ‘strength’ it took to control that urge.
There are tempers that swoop out of control and hurt those around them with carelessness and vulgarity. And I can’t encourage those. What I want, is controlled rage. Responsible but honest anger that doesn’t need to be lessened for the sake of keeping face. Letting yourself feel is a struggle familiar with many people. Too often we try to limit our emotions, whether it be the stubborn cling to not fall in love or the tongue biting clench of true, hit something hard, anger.
One of my biggest accomplishments over the past few years was learning to be angry; learning to hate. Not a petty hate born out of ignorance or annoyance, but genuine, nearly blinding, hate. I learned and seethed in an acceptance of being genuinely mad and let myself be pissed. It wasn’t like I’d never been mad before, but it had always stemmed from my personal transgressions or jealousies. This new emotion I allowed myself was raw and was a reaction to someone who had wronged me. Playing the role of humble martyr, belittling the anger I was deserved and being too understanding were routes I’d always been all too familiar with. Letting go of the cautions of feeling all that was there, I finally let rage seep out, And it was amazing. I spoke with shocking power and emotion that wasn’t in complete juxtaposition to my normal calm demeanour and realized the lies I had been telling myself all along. I wasn’t ok with this person. I wasn’t willing to accept or forgive anytime soon. This was inexcusable of them and I had all the reason in the world to be pissed. Pissed at how cruel they had been. Pissed at their words, actions and hurtful assumptions. Pissed at how they had disappointed me. Pissed at myself for allowing it to have gotten as far as it had out of my own hesitation to being angry in the first place.
The weight that fell from my shoulders along with the honesty of my emotion left my breathing easier, and more surprisingly, smiling. Behind the hot tears that burned the back of my eyes and the solid lump in my throat was a pride only slightly bigger than the rage simmering below it. My words had been mean. My intentions had been to hurt. Every inch of me wanting him to feel how angry I was, how much he had disappointed me. The fight I brought out of the both of us was unexpected but hugely necessary. We needed to be angry. I needed to be angry. He needed to know that this was unacceptable and I was finally strong enough to react truthfully.
Being pissed can be sloppy and reckless. Ugliness can be so easily stumbled into when the red mist descends, but the trick is to remain in control. Say the words that you need to, but don’t forget why you say them. Be honest with yourself. What you feel is not wrong, is not weakness of character. What you’re feeling is important. There’s never cause to snap unwarranted, or throw a fist through a wall. But stealing the heat of an emotion is dangerous in its own ways. You won’t steal the heat of the anger away, you’ll only store it, like hot embers, lying beneath a cool bed of soil.
Commit to yourself, to all of yourself. To the emotions that demand your honesty, and the power to be true.
Cheers to a year of keeping track.