Friday, August 18, 2006

Anger Management

I can't believe how angry I've felt lately. I didn't really notice it at first. Then I began having these dreams - all these angry, violent dreams. Dreams where I get in fights with people and beat them up. Dreams where I run down pedestrians with my car. Dreams where other people who would ordinararily never be anrgy or violent are. Dreams with lots of punishment, blood, beatings and rage. I find I've been grinding my teeth and biting the insides of my cheek while I sleep, too. In general, I've just been running on a short fuse, quick to anger and quicker to annoyance.

The problem is that it's an elusive anger. I'm not mad at anyone in particular, not really. I think I've been a bit cranky, a bit edgy of late. Maybe even (a little =D) bitchiness will I admit to. But I'm not really angry at any one person or event. I wasn't even going to bother posting about this, but as I've talked to others in our social group, I've found a common thread in our resentment and anger towards the outside world. And towards each other, truth be told. All along this road, I've harbored anger at those I felt weren't towing the line, weren't doing their fair bit to keep up with the rest of us, if you know what I mean. Things that had been small differences and minor annoyances before CJ's death became an outlet for my negative emotions, allowing me a funnel to get the incredible rage over my own misfortune out of my heart, off my chest and out into the world. As time has passed, these directed tirades have subsided to be replaced by a general sense of discontent.

The worst is the anger I feel towards people whose lives are going well. I got an email today from an old and somewhat distant friend of mine. He just had a baby boy, and was emailing out pictures to all of his friends and family, as any proud father would. It just makes me so sad when I see other people happy with their new lives, starting new families. And I hate to be sad, so I suppose I translate that emotion into an undefined bitterness instead. But just the same, what kind of terrible person must I be to hate others for their happiness? What right on earth do I have to be angry because other people get to be happy? What kind of intolerance is that, when you are mad that others have the gall to be happy in your presence. It makes me wonder if, in the before time, CJ and I made others unhappy with our friendship, our relationship. Are there those who resented us, who were angry because we were happy in a way they weren't?

We all seem more hardened, in our own way. You deal with the hurt and the loss and the grief as best you can, but it leaves little calluses on your heart. Hard spots that may not have been there before. I find that I can't handle people's minor grievances anymore. Anytime someone starts to trip out over the small things, I just want to bitch slap them. Sit down! Shut up! Get a fucking grip! You have no idea what a real problem is! But just the same, such incredible anger is unjustified. In their own limited range of life experience, maybe this minor crisis does seem life threatening. Maybe they just aren't aware how small and insignificant their complaints are to others because in their world it's the biggest possible existing problem they can see. I'm pretty sure that my life was like that before. All the minor, petty things that drive us crazy - I used to have all those complaints, too. I think they just withered up and died like weeds in the ever present shadow of mom and CJ's deaths. I hope they don't come back; I'm better off without them, I think.

The third and final vein of this anger is the worst, though. It's when you meet people you don't like for whatever reason and think, why are you still here and CJ isn't? Or even worse than that, why am I still here and CJ isn't? It's the presumption that the loss of your beloved was unjustified enough by itself, compounded when you meet others who are - you ready for this one? - less worthy of life. Yeah, I know how atrocious that sounds to those who aren't bereaved. But it's there, it's true. Sometimes you pass judgement on other peoples right to life based on the life that was lost, it's potential, it's importance in your own life. The good may die young, but that doesn't make it alright. And that alone is enough to piss you off when you come face-to-face with those you might find lacking... even when that person is yourself.

There's not any real resolution to this type of anger. Not for me anyway, not yet. I just hope the heat of my anger and resentment doesn't wind up burning down all the bridges I've built over the last decade. They say that anger is one of the bedrock emotions of grieving. I think it's the most destructive one, though. Anger doesn't really serve anyone in the long run. It's a very satisfying emotion, though. Feeling lost, hopeless, sad - you can't do anything with those, you can't fix them. But anger... anger feels constructive. You can find outlets for that. You can do things with anger and hatred. (Disclaimer: I'm about to geek out here, so bear with me). In Star Wars Mythology, a dark jedi gains ability far faster than a regular jedi and is usually more powerful. That's because they funnel anger as leverage, as a tool. Of course, the lesson, the moral, if you will, is that doing so will destroy you in the end. And I believe that. I think that anger is a healthy part of grieving, a necessary part. But don't let it consume you. Eventually, in order to move on, you have to let go of it; let go of the resentment and the feelings of injustice. If you can't move past anger, then you'll never move past grief. Like everything else, that may be simple, but it's not easy.

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