A few days ago, Mum, Sigrid and I somehow got to speak about when we were little. Sigrid made remarks about kids bullying me and I doing nothing about it. She always stood up for me, cause I just let it happen. Then Sigrid and Mum got like that I should have bitched them off. They got to speak about me as if I were the most anxious, passive retreater in the world. At other times, they’ve also been positive in a way that I expressed feelings of anger, as if I never do that.
It confused me. People have always said that I was angry too quickly. I know, of course there are right and wrong ways of expressing one’s anger, but the statement that I’m angry too quickly implies that one isn’t allowed to be angry when I am. That I’m angry when I shouldn’t be. Is anger a feeling or a behaviour? Does it matter? Is it any more appropriate if it’s just a feeling? I know that ways of expressing anger are behaviours that can be correct or incorrect – mine are often incorrect. But is that the same as stating that I’m angry too soon? And if the feeling of anger can, itself, be inappropriate, then how does one determine when that is the case? I am not saying that because the feeling is appropriate, it’s appropriate to express it the way you want – some ways, that I’ve used, are particularly destructive.
There is a lot between passive resignation and aggression, yet I seem to act on both extremes so frequently that it gets excessive attention. I mean, I think everyone at times bursts into an anger tantrum, and in certain situations even the most self-confident, assertive person will freeze up and let stuff just happen. But my low frustration tolerance, frequent anger, and “less predictable behaviour” (whatever that may be) have been highlighted on reports so frequently I’m losing track of it, and yet folks keep telling me that I should stand up for myself, and have at times even been approving of such behaviour when I considered it to be a mild anger tantrum. I have noticed how I’m thinking too much in black and white a lot of times, but it is so confusing. When I was younger, I used to be quite aggressive and angry and people did not omit telling me so. And still, folks tell me I have a my way or the highway attitude and make everyone’s life miserable with my behaviour. Yet at other times folks seem to think I’m way too passive and don’t stand up for myself. You may say that most of my anger outbursts are towards my parents or Sigrid, while I often retreat at school, and then get into a long sort of psychological blah-blah of why that would be (don’t ask me), but folks at school have also said I was curt and at times didn’t show I empathized with others’ points of view, and at times I get the same criticism for being too passive at home. Apparently, it’s been like this for a very long time. I feel quite confused by this contradiction, but that may just be that I’m thinking too much in black and white and my difficulty in understanding social situations.
Often, however, I’ve felt hurt by criticisms about my being too angry, for they seem to reduce anger to a behavioural disorder. I do not say that my low frustration tolerance and less predictable behaviour are not a behaviour problem, but is anger? And if not, why do folks say that I’m angry too easily? And where’s the line between anger tantrums and expressing one’s feeling appropriately, even in some situations standing up for oneself. (Of course, not all anger is about self-advocacy.) Why do people at one time criticize me for being too angry, and at another time, in a quite similar situation, consider this expression to be positive. I don’t know. I’ve always had great trouble understanding the conventional rules of expressing one’s feelings, especially negative ones. By “expressing”, then, I’m meaning everything that makes apparent how I’m feeling. Folks say that I’m “always having a crisis”, in a way as if there’s a right way to feel in every situation and my emotions are trribly disturbed, while at other times folks expect me to express a feeling that previously seemed to be inapropriate. But yeah, I’m exhibiting two extremes and nothing in between.