Anger is stupid and bad and I don’t like it

By , January 22, 2010 12:12 am

Saw Laura, my therapist, tonight and talked a lot about the anger issues I spoke about earlier this week. I was saying that my anger – at my mom, at my dad, at the universe – feels profoundly useless. Addressing it doesn’t seem productive, it won’t change anything about the past, and I just don’t see the point.

Laura said that the “point” of addressing anger is that is you can’t get past it unless you do. Addressing anger won’t change the past, but it can change the anger itself. (At this point, I accused her of a circular argument: Addressing anger is useful because you can’t address it unless you do. She laughed, but said rephrasing it to sound silly doesn’t make it not true.)

More to the point, she said I should tell my mom all of the things I’m angry about. That my mom might actually feel some relief, because she’s said she feels guilty about not helping me transition sooner, not realizing I was trans until I told her. An so acknowledging that, yes, it does hurt, might help us both get past it.

Which is really scary for me. I totally recognize what Laura is saying as a reasonable idea…for other people. But applying it to myself just brings up all of the same insecurities that prevented me from saying anything, or from actually transitioning, earlier than I did. That speaking up will bring down hatred and ridicule. That it is my fault.

I also have a major problem with anger. (As I’ve said before, and even at the beginning of this post.) I don’t like anger. I think it’s stupid, and that expressing it doesn’t accomplish anything useful. (What ridiculously subjective terms, huh?) This is, in part, because I don’t have a good framework for being angry. Or any, really. The little arguments and spats I’ve gotten in never end satisfyingly; I just get frustrated. And for things like this? For the really important stuff? Well, being angry won’t change anything, so I just suppress and deny that I feel angry in the first place.

The idea of expressing anger, of saying “I’m angry at you for not knowing I was trans, knowing what to do about it,” also makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. Because…because something. I’ve been trying to finish that sentence, even though I know that it does make me feel vulnerable. (Have I mentioned I really don’t like emotions that seem to not have a specific, identifiable source? And that estrogen has not been good to me in this regard?)

Expressing anger – particularly in such a conscious way as I’m contemplating – also makes me feel selfish, and self-indulgent. This goes back to “Being angry isn’t going to change anything, so why bother?”

But I would really like to get past this. I feel like I’m still dragging around a lot of baggage (as those who have watched the show videos I’ve posted so far can attest to).

And I would very much like to be past this anger; to be looking more to my future than to my past.

9 Responses to “Anger is stupid and bad and I don’t like it”

  1. Bond says:

    The title of this post made me laugh a bit… I feel the same way about sadness, but anger feels very productive to me. When something screwed up happens, it is right and appropriate to feel pissed off, and that anger is energy that you can use to redress whatever wrong was committed. It’s about justice. Anger can’t change the past, but it can acknowledge that was happened was wrong, and that is a powerful thing. You have every right to feel that your parent’s best damn well wasn’t good enough, and if that’s the case, it’s only fitting to be outraged. You owe that outrage to yourself.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks, Bond. I’m trying to get there, and I totally agree with what you’re saying.

      In theory. For other people.

      I’m just having a really hard time putting that into practice for me; to believe in my heart that anger is a ‘reasonable’ response to injustice.

      I guess, thinking out loud, it is easy for me to feel angry about big, in-the-world injustice (say, the idea of healthcare failing after all this fucking time). But, as I said, I end up feeling selfish and self-indulgent when thinking about expressing (or even acknowledging) anger for myself. I get into a ‘survivors guilt’ type space, thinking about how comparatively easy my transition has been to so many other people in the world.

      But, as my therapist reminded me yesterday, even with the smoothest path in the world, being trans still sucks. And my path was pretty damn smooth, but not a crystal road of puppies and rainbows. I have every right to be angry.

      I just have to say that and believe it.

      (I do think it’s interesting, and maybe a tad amusing, that it seems like we flip-flopped responses to anger and sadness. I’m all about embracing and acknowledging sadness, because that feels like it’s directed internally. And if there’s one thing I am good at, it’s being hard on myself. So getting that sadness out, as a feeling that isn’t at someone, is easier. Although I do like the idea of saying “I’m sad at you” the way you say “I’m angry at you.”)

  2. One suggestion that I’ve been given to release and move through some of the anger directed towards my parents is to write them a letter. But a letter that they’ll never ever see. You can let all of your anger and frustration and sadness out, and say the things you want to say without filtering any of it. And then you can file that letter away so you can read it again when you need to, or you can burn it. Or anything. Then when you talk to them about your feelings, you’re not as emotionally volatile – you’ve released some of that steam. And maybe they’ll be able to hear your feelings and understand them better.

    I, unfortunately, haven’t done the letter thing with my parents (though I’ve done it in other situations – and it feels great). For better or worse, I’ve openly shared my anger with my parents. And not always in the best ways, often in times where I’ve been consumed by pain. It was difficult and it took a long time to work through it.

    I’m still mad at my parents about some things. And understanding about others. I’m furious that they were blind to my depression and suicidality and understanding that they didn’t know any more about being trans than I did.

    But I really think accepting and understanding the anger is the only way to move forward. (an idea that I continue to work on in my own life).

    • Rebecca says:

      I think that sounds like a really good suggestion, Joey. I definitely want to talk to them (well, at least to my mom) but writing things out as a precursor feels less scary than just diving in.

      I’m sorry to hear things with your parents haven’t gone as smoothly as you’d like, though.

  3. Jonah says:

    I think your therapist is right and I think you’re lucky you have parents where bringing up your anger won’t make them angry. So don’t waste that opportunity.
    Also, there’s a song called “The Angry Song” (you can find it online) that usually turns my anger into sadness when I listen to it. I’m not sure why it works that way for me, but maybe it will work for you too.

  4. Lacy says:

    Oh my gosh! i feel the SAME way. I was so angry at my mom for not understanding my transgender issues and refusing to help me.One day i just decided to go get hormones regardless, since its been something i’ve wanted to do since I knew transitioning was possible(17).Just wish it didnt take me until i was 21 to throw caution to the wind and buy my pills from mystery pharmacys online.

    • Rebecca says:

      Welcome, Lacy. I’m sorry to hear you had similar issues with your mom, although it makes sense that lots of trans people would feel this way. Can I ask how your relationship with your mom is now? One of the things I’ve been having a hard time dealing with is that my relationship with my mom is pretty solid now, so I feel horrible having this simmering anger toward her for something that neither of us can change. I’m working on that with her (and I have another post brewing on that topic) but I’d be curious to hear how another trans woman dealt with -slash- is dealing with it.

  5. […] all that anger I’ve been talking about? Turns out my mom has been thinking about it, […]

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