Thursday, September 15, 2005


I've finally figured out that the best time to write about anger is when you aren't feeling angry anymore.

F has been trying to booty call me for the past three nights after work, and I am deflecting him with my Wonder Woman bracelets -- politely saying "No, thank you."

Last night he asked me if I wanted to "work out some of my anger." (Is that a Short Hills euphemism for "have sex"? Must be!)

And I was able to say in complete honestly, "But I'm not angry. I WAS angry. But I'm not now." And as I said it, I paused and listened to what was going on with me -- and realized that the anger was residual urges to get even, spill the beans, or harbor a grudge.

He obviously interpreted "not angry" as "willing to fuck" because he kept steering the conversation in that direction, and I wasn't taking the bait. Finally he just resorted to a crass and tasteless "So, do you want to fuck tonight or what?"

I just said, "No, thank you," with my best party manners, as if I was refusing a second helping of dessert. No excuses or even reasons, just "No, thank you."

Same again tonight.

But more about anger -- I'll paraphrase what I said to F last night about anger -- I realized that it is so debilitating -- to no one else but me! Though it is, in its moment, somewhat intoxicating. There's a rush of adrenaline that accompanies true rage, that can make me feel so powerful and scary. I can totally understand how people become rageaholics. That rush, that surge of fearlessness and power.

But now that some time has passed, I see that the surge is actually fearfulness. At the bottom of most anger is fear, I believe.

So I told him that I needed to work through my anger, then stopped and rephrased my statement -- and told him that I had to let my anger move through me. I had to. It arose, existed, and I had to let it die. Because, after all, that is what all emotions do. They arise, and pass through you, and die. I know I don't have to do anything with the anger, because it will pass. Do you know how liberating that is?

One of the precepts says "Not to be angry." Most people misinterpret that and think they have to go around with foolish, beatific smiles on their faces all the time -- so instead of letting their anger pass through them, all they are doing is suppressing their anger. So they become these suppurating stews of rage. It doesn't say, "Don't get angry." What it means is that it's okay to get angry, but you don't have to act from a place of anger. You can notice it as it comes up -- "Boy, am I angry" -- but choose not to come from that place.

I saw the perfect example of it the other day with G. One of our vendors called us sheepishly at 5:00 to tell us that one of our mailings had fallen through the cracks and not gone out on the day it was supposed to. I heard G tell him on the phone, "Now, I'm sitting here thinking I could flip out all over you, or I could just deal with it, so I'm going to just deal with it. How soon can you get it out?" The vendor stayed late to get the mailing out the door that night.

F could learn a big lesson from all of that -- if anyone is a rageaholic, he is.

I am re-reading Thubten Chodron's book "Working with Anger" and it is so edifying. I also caught a great Q&A on her website on the subject.

It is 51 degrees in my mountain town right now.


At 9/17/2005 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have been doing some good solid HONEST work this week. I am proud to have a friend who is willing to actually LOOK at herself and has an interest in improving more than her face or her wallet.

You Inspire Me!

"The Assistant"

At 9/17/2005 7:57 PM, Blogger Anocsanamun said...

I really enjoy your blog. You should really get a book deal.


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