An undeniable part of trauma – life, really – is anger. I’m still very angry, some days more than others, but I kind of like it. To me, anger feels more powerful than denial, hurt or pain. When you’ve been feeling powerless and under attack, beginning to feel anger can signify that you acknowledge that a wrong was done to you (rather than this being your fault) and that it was wrong (despite how many excuses people try to feed you to water down the perpetrator’s responsibility). It was not bravery but anger that got me through the doors of the County Court. It was anger that drove me to lodge official complaints amidst so many warnings to ‘forget it’ and that I would be ending my own career by talking. It is anger that enables me to endure yet *another* psychiatric review ordered by the insurance company to ‘prove’ my damage.
My anger is not always productive. I am hit with impotent waves of rage when the topic of ‘what makes a good teacher’ is raised, or ‘how the education system should be improved’. I am by no means narcissistic enough to imagine my experience IS the system. But the topic stabs me in the heart like a blunt knife. I want to scream about the parts of the system no one talks about. The people that are still allowed to do as they wish; threaten, bully and lie – even before the Courts. Mostly it hurts because I miss my job. And I grieve for the loss. The involuntary loss of my dream.
That makes me angry.
In order to move through this murky stuff (anger is also a very heavy emotion to drag around with you) I have done what I always do – read about it.
There are ten common anger styles which are divided into three categories; hidden, explosive and chronic.
Hidden styles are common in people who may underestimate or really not know that they are feeling anger. There are all sorts of childhood and socialisation issues also at play here which may contribute to how a person manages (or denies) their angry feelings.
Anger Avoidance Some people avoid their anger, suppress it or try to deny it. This may be especially so of females, who are invariably instructed from birth that ‘nice girls don’t get angry’ or ‘make a fuss’. Been there, tried that. It becomes a cancer in you. Delays the inevitable.
Sneaky Anger manifests in other ways. Rather than dealing with feelings of anger, these people mask it behind confusion, hopelessness or procrastination. I may have appeared this way to the people close to me during the worst times. I would appear full of rage, clearly struggling with something big, but unable or unwilling to share.
Paranoid Anger could also be called ‘projecting’, I think. This is when people hide from their own aggression by talking it out on others. They can be convinced that others are angry and lash out in turn. Or attack and then use the excuse that they were defending themselves.
Explosive Anger is what it says on the label; quick, exaggerated and quite often dangerous.
Sudden Anger is exhibited by loss of control and waves of rage. These people do not seem to notice the warning signs that anger is building inside them or indeed know how to manage it when it explodes.
Shame Based Anger is also explosive but pertains particularly to issues of low self esteem. People that are highly sensitive to criticism may lash out defensively to a real or only perceived threat to their egos. Hello, perpetrator and asshole colleagues. This is your stop. Your shame, your anger taken out on me. Your. Fault.
Deliberate Anger is used intentionally by people to manipulate and get their own way. Domineering people (bullies) learn that it is possible to control people through fear and intimidation. Perpetrator, groomer…this is YOU.
Addictive Anger are seemingly addicted to the rush of being angry. They don’t know any other way to feel good, or powerful, and seek pathways which invite opportunities to become angry.
Finally, there is Chronic Anger. These people are your grudge holders, they stew over feelings of anger and find it very hard to let go.
Habitual Anger is used by individuals who have perfected it like a fine art. They don’t know the difference. They are angry all the time, over big and small issues.
Moral Anger may be rigid in their thinking and come across as self righteous. They become involved in endless ‘crusades’, are driven by a sense of justice and what is fair in their eyes. This is me, whether it be my ‘crusade’ or the plight of others. I admit it. I reckon if you have to be feeling angry, though, this one is alright. But I am biased.
Unresolved anger can morph into resentment and Hate. People like this always see themselves as the innocent victim and are caught in the grip of the beast. Which is invariably not their fault. Ever.
Now I am after all only human. I’ve dabbled in a few forms of anger expression. It is however Moral Anger that drives me/drives me crazy. I know what is right and wrong. I know how many times I was treated badly…criminally…in my workplace. By people who always knew that they had a moral, ethical and legal obligation to behave in a different way. The right way. The legal way. So I am still angry. And searching for a sense of closure. A point where I can stop trying to be heard and start just being me again. I’m pretty determined/stubborn/unable to stop until I have taken it as far as I can go. I don’t know what I will do then. How I will feel. But I will know in my heart that I tried everything I possibly could. That I pushed things in every direction and took the flak that came with that. I am trying to exorcise this bubbling anger but also I’m just being defiant. Don’t tell me to stop! How dare you tell me I will lose my job! I should ‘get over it’ and let you carry on without ‘rocking the boat’ for you guys? Will I fuck.
Hopefully there will come a day soon where I can stop being so angry and just look back and feel a bit proud of myself. While I work for that, there is plenty to keep me busy. It’s tragic how far Moral Anger can take you, in the area of assault and victim blaming in particular. I’ll stomp some out at Slutwalk 2013. Sometimes it feels like I have hardly moved since this started, but since I ‘came out’ and marched with the others at Slutwalk last year, I’ve come a long way, baby!
- Anger is a better friend than sadness. (boredroomsocialscene.wordpress.com)
- Screw you! The psychology of anger and aggression | Dean Burnett (theguardian.com)
- The Antidote to Anger (stacynelliott.wordpress.com)
- Anger (theexperienceoption.wordpress.com)
- Lady Anger: A Radical Act? (taikonenfea.wordpress.com)
- Kiss Goodbye Guilty Anger (daphnegan.wordpress.com)