How to Listen to Your Anger
Anger is energy with a message, and it’s talking to you
For years, I was known in my friend group as “the calm one.”
I took this label as a compliment because it meant I was stable. I could handle stress well. I could use a well-modulated voice and carefully chosen words in a conflict. I could articulate rather than emote.
I felt these were worthy accomplishments and signs of superiority — clear indications that I wasn’t a weak, emotional creature, but a strong, stable, mature, logical person.
Ha, hahaha, ha.
I carried this idea of myself for years (years!) until a small incident broke it open — and broke me down.
We were on the beach. My oldest daughter, 10 at the time, was coming out of the water. She was hopping and playing in the surf when a dog ran up, jumped at her, and bit her on the ankle. It wasn’t a bad bite; it didn’t even break the skin. She was physically fine but she was scared.
I was sitting a few yards away on the sand and saw it all happen. I ran to her, grabbed the dog by the collar, and looked around for the owner.
I yelled, “Whose dog is this?”
There were plenty of people on the beach, but no one was willing to claim the dog. I gave up and shooed the dog away, then went to comfort my daughter, telling her that it’s okay and it’s not a big deal.
I was trying to convince her to forget — and also trying to convince myself.
As it turns out, being able to consistently stifle your anger is not a sign that you’re emotionally healthy.
But the feeling I had grew and grew. It was a feeling I couldn’t quite name until it burst into my face with its red and orange flares and screaming voice and insistent crackling tension: anger.
As the anger rolled and boiled, other memories clawed their way to the surface, demanding to be…