Now it’s no real secret that I am an angry person by nature. For some reason that not even trained and perplexed therapists have managed to uncover, I have an inner store of fury to rival Begbie’s (but fortunately far fewer of his sociopathic traits and a far more highly-developed sense of guilt/conscience. Also, I have yet to grow a terrifying 70’s-catalogue-model moustache.)
I also have several trigger buttons that can be pressed. If one could see these buttons, and believe me sometimes I wish people could, they would most likely be bright red, couched on a screaming neon green background with a handily placed label written in six-inch purple caps KINDLY DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON AGAIN, MOTHERFUCKER.
Conversely, being an introvert and an INFJ at that, I loathe conflict. Making other people unhappy (or even the belief that I have done so, whether it’s true in reality or not) causes me vast amounts of misery and stress. So generally speaking, if I’m in a visibly towering rage (note: this is similar to The Towering Inferno, but with more stories and fewer storeys) someone’s made me so cross that my natural desire to avoid other people being upset has been overruled by pure, instinctive, animal Hulk Smash. My introversion, to a certain extent, controls my anger.
I am honestly rambling on about myself for a reason more worthy than self-aggrandisement, or perhaps in this case, self-deprecation. The thing is, I have recently had my ears chewed for displaying my anger, giving voice to it, allowing it elbow room in my life. Because I vent, you see. Example:
“So I was talking to her and she said [INSERT SUITABLE IRRITANT PHRASE]. I was ready to tear off her arm and beat her to death with the wet end.”
Yes, I use violent words, but I’m not violent. There’s a difference. (See previous comments about Begbie). I use language to express my anger, which I feel is far safer than using, say, a machete. Or a lawnmower. Or a large bottle of lye. Using violent language to vent anger safely quite likely prevents actual violence. (Or a descent into gibbering lunacy. Whichever comes first.) Words are my therapy, and by extension, my stories are my therapy.
And I don’t use my angry language to destroy the person who’s been the cause of it (this of course could constitute emotional abuse and is not something I’d condone). I use it to bitch about them behind their backs, which I think you’ll agree is far more socially acceptable**. Look at any reality TV show for examples of this.
Socially, I’m discovering, expressing anger is an absolute no-no. Wrath is truly becoming the deadliest sin of them all in this modern world. Lust is already perfectly acceptable socially – you only have to look at the scandal rags and women’s magazines to see examples of this. Envy and Greed are practically encouraged, especially in the world of commercial marketing. Ditto Pride. Gluttony – well, if you can find a modern high street that doesn’t have an advert for some kind of bargain-priced and over-sized fast food on it you win a prize. And as for Sloth, I give you 250+ channels of television. Here’s your sofa. If you’re patient and work really hard, you can craft the exact pattern of your buttocks into the seat cushions in under two months.
But anger – being angry? Oh, dear me, no. It’s not allowed to be angry. Nice boys and girls don’t shout and scream and rail against the unfairness of the world. It’s just not the done thing. If something is unjust or just plain morally wrong, you’re expected to smile politely and eat your nice plate of cowpat with a spoon. If someone else does something wrong and gets upset when you correct them, you’re supposed to be diplomatic and bend the rules so that they don’t get upset again. Never mind that they’ll carry on being wrong. That they’ve got away with it.
Smile, children – don’t gnash your teeth – anger is unbecoming. Anger is pointless. Expressing anger doubly so. Here, in a roomful of people I will be the only one who displays honest anger when things are going unfairly wrong, and I thus have the occasional reputation of being fearsome, dangerous. I show anger in a world where it has become taboo to do more than tut, shake one’s head and say things like “Dear me. You seem to have accidentally cut off my leg, shaved my pet dog and introduced an unspeakable bodily fluid into my goldfish tank. Whoops. What a palaver” etc.etc.
Of course, the reality is that I could no more hurt someone than I could eat my own skull. I love fluffy kittens and sunny mornings, sending my friends presents and playing in the snow.Had I the time or inclination I’d probably knit my own socks, press flowers, install solar panels on the rooves of orphanages and bash about cheerfully freeing dolphins from tuna nets. I worry more about the people who never seem to get angry. Where does it all go? Do they go home at night and torture their cheeseplant? Do they have one room in their house that’s always padlocked and inside looks as if it’s been transplanted from the Overlook Hotel?
Anger has a purpose. Anger is valid; anger is necessary. There are some great changes in the world that would not have come about had people been angry enough to challenge the Way Things Were. Anger shouldn’t be demonised in the way that it is.
The way I see it, I’d be a bad person if I acted on my anger. I’m not a bad person for acknowledging, expressing and seeing the value in it. There are no completely bad emotions. There are only bad actions and bad choices, for which an emotion is used as a convenient scapegoat.*
*and if you disagree with me on this, I may have to kill you. By beating you to death with the wet end of your own arm.**
***Look, you’re going to have to reassure me you don’t hate and fear me now, OK? Fluffy kittens, remember. Love ’em.