It's a simple word, but a complex emotion. Something familiar to everybody, but still absolutely unique to each individual. And, I realized quite recently, that it is the main obstacle I've been facing (for the last however long) when it comes to writing anything of substance in this space.
Sure, there's been the holiday havoc, and the shingles before that, and the family members' health crises and the three months away from my own home before that, and about a million other, tiny in comparison, issues that keep cropping up, but I've written through that kind of stuff before - I even sort of wrote through it this time. But more often then not, five years, and a gazillion stories and shared emotions into this blogging thing, lately every time I opened the little Blogger tab on my computer, I would find myself struck - and stuck - with all the things I couldn't say.
All the things I have been so angry about that I can't talk about in person - either because I can't figure out how to say them or because nobody actually hears them no matter how loudly I say it - just sort of clumped up in my brain, letting little drips and drops through here and there, but bottling up most of what could actually be said. And the thing about it was, that I didn't even realize it was anger that was keeping the words from coming until I started to let some of it out. I knew there was something: a wall, a block, a barrier between me and the world - even here in this virtual world - but I couldn't figure out where the wall had come from, or how to take it down.
And I still haven't figured it all out, but over the past few weeks something has been made abundantly clear to me (and probably to those people in my life who are paying any attention at all): I am pissed off.
I am pissed off about so many little things, and so many huge things, and just So. Many. Things. And it has shut me down.
It has turned off the flow of words from my brain to my fingers, so that when I come here to write something, all I can think to say is "Things here are busy/crazy/overwhelming, check back later." But I'm not satisfied with that, so I wind up writing nothing and hoping that you all haven't wandered away due to my inattention.
It's shut down my patience, which I'm supposed to have an unending supply of, because that's what people expect of me - To the extent that on Christmas Day I had to lock myself in my room and cry for ten minutes before I could come out and face people again because they were getting on my nerves so much. And the things they were doing would not ordinarily bother me that much, so I know it wasn't just that they were being assholes (even though they kind of were).
It's shut down my ability to put up with crap: I feel unable to take people's shit anymore, and want them to know and to see it as truth that I Am Done. Even the kids are getting a whole lot more of "does this look like my serious face or my joking face? Because I am not joking and you're going to want to stop it right now." I feel like all of my boundaries have been trampled over and over again so I'm left, walking the lines, retrenching, protecting myself - even if that means being overly sensitive and shooting anyone who comes within sight, deservedly or not.
It's closed of my sense of empathy and sympathy - particularly with myself: I am so upset with myself for being upset that I go around feeling like a heartless bitch and expecting people to treat me as if I am that. (Even though I know I'm not.)
It has also shut down my ability to express emotions with any clarity, in case you couldn't tell from that last paragraph. I keep thinking things like "I'm sad; but why?" or "I am feeling such rage right now, and it is out of proportion to the situation we are in, but I can't tell you why I'm feeling it." And it pisses me off even more when someone says something about it ("You seem tired/upset/not your usual cheery self." No, really: gee thanks.)
'So,' you might ask, if you have made it this far into this unending rant about... everything, 'NTE, why are you so angry?' And that's just the thing - I'm angry about so many things, only a quarter of which I can put an actual label on.
I'm angry with passive-aggressive commentary from my family, the kind that I'm just supposed to shrug off and pretend doesn't hurt me, and I'm angry with myself for making those same kind of remarks to them. I'm angry with my illnesses and doctors and the frustrating lack of ANYTHING that I've been confronted with, yet again, this winter. I'm angry with the ableist/racist/sexist/---ist discussions that take place around me, and that I'm not supposed to get angry at them, because that makes me "holier-than-thou." I'm angry at what a shit year 2010 turned out to be, and all the ridiculous drama that 2011 is already holding for us. I'm angry that I'm not doing more about all the things I know only I can take care of, and I'm angry at people who aren't taking the actions only they can do to fix things. I'm angry that there are situations I can't control, and yet I spend all my time trying to control them. I'm angry about things that shouldn't even enter into my life, on other people's behalf. I'm angry that no one seems to notice I am angry. I'm angry about the fact that nobody else is as angry as (I feel) they should be.
I'm angry with myself, with my body, with my family, with my doctors, with the Internet, with the world. I'm angry at my thoughts and feelings, and the fact that they buzz around in my head and heart and stomach incessantly, but when I try to get them down on paper, they become harder to grasp then vapor.
I'm just angry. Mad, frustrated, ranting, coiled, incensed, enraged, inflamed. All of those. And it's painful to be this angry, and to be keeping it all inside.
So when I finally (and I do mean FINALLY, because I have been feeling this way since, at least September, when my Grandmother had her stroke & I wound up semi-homeless again & my doctor told me that my shingles were stress-related hives instead of Listening To Me)... When I finally realized that this emotion that was bottling everything else up, that was clouding all my other emotions and dulling them to the point where I wasn't even feeling them sometimes, was anger, I decided to let it fly. I'm not keeping it to myself anymore. I'm trying not to aim it indiscriminately or disproportionately, but I'm not keeping it all bound up inside of me anymore.
Which may or may not bode entirely well for this blog and what it might become over the next little while, but I'll tell you one thing it definitely will be -
Because part of the reason I haven't been writing all that much is because who wants to hear the ranting of an angry woman, especially if she doesn't even know what she's angry about? Would I keep reading a blog like that? I don't know for sure, and I can't answer it for you either. But I think I would, because it's true. And that's all I ever require in whatever I'm reading... that it come from a true place. And that's all I should require from what I'm writing too.
So if mad is what I'm feeling, mad may be what you get. But at least it'll still be the truth.
Welcome to 2011, everybody, let's hope it gets better from here, and if it doesn't, come join me in being righteously angry... because the only way through it is through it.*
*I can't remember which AA or Al-anon or substance abuse program pamphlet I got that from, and a Google search only shows up random religious theologies, which I know is not where I got it, but it still applies. Or, if you prefer: "If you're going through hell, keep going." Winston Churchill