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  • Writer's pictureLaura Ryder

The Weekly Catharsis: I am angry

Thank you to everyone who submitted pieces inspired by this week's phrase ("I am angry"). Anger is such an interesting emotion. Often it's just a mask, protecting something more vulnerable behind it. It's also commonly regarded as a "bad" emotion, one to be avoided at all costs. It shouldn't be ignored of course; it can teach us so much. For now, like you, I am doing what I need to do to get through this challenge and not over-extending myself, but in future I hope to write a separate post about the week's set theme. I hope the exercise was helpful to you all, and that your work might help a second time when read again by others. You can read this week's submissions below.

"I am angry, therefore I am."

I am angry. That sums it up really. I am angry, therefore I am. It's not this virus thing really, that's just another thing to be angry about. The truth is I've been angry a long time and it often masquerades as other feelings or grievances. I'm angry in and at so many things and situations but once the cycle of rumination has completed I'm mostly angry at myself: for letting myself be angry, for not getting a grip, for letting it impact my relationships. Sometimes I find more compassionate reasons behind my anger – but then they make me angry in a different way. Why did that happen to me? Why did it have such long term consequences? Why can't I just move on from it? And one day I woke up and realised that I was going to pass my anger on to my children and that made me feel a new and more desperate kind of anger.

"I used to instinctively think that anger was a bad thing that should be substituted for the high road at all times. I have learned the hard way that it's ok to feel angry and portray those feelings. Owning your feelings and being the navigator of how you want to express them, I believe, is one of our most basic human rights."

I am angry …….

It feels so wrong to even write that, or is it that it is so new, it is uncomfortable? Like my new heels it is needs to be walked in and maybe a few blisters pads attached to be manageable. Right now, I am transported back to sixth year English as we attempted to study six-word stories “For sale, baby shoes, never worn”. Maybe in my case in relation to angry “New shoes, desperate itch, please return”. And that is where my relationship with anger currently stands.

Think of the movie Inside Out, where each feeling has a seat in the control room. I honestly thought, and was somewhat proud aged 22 in my belief that I had successful relegated anger to the back seats or even the side-lines. I almost felt sorry for people as they lashed out, luckily, I had that mastered, I was so Zen. I had read “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari” for goodness sake. This belief gave me a sense of control. That no matter the circumstance, I could not be broken, I would never again feel weak, crippling shame, ridiculed or regret. After all, I was in charge, and I was determined to win the battle.

Whenever I felt an uncomfortable flicker, a disappointment, a piercing hurt, even a devastating grief, I attempted to file it away, far away, where it could not reach me. I have muttered the words “please not now” under my breath far too many times.

For a while, this worked…… or more accurately, I survived. I got a job, then got promoted. I couldn’t seem to make a go of any romantic relationship however. Yet, I was determined not to let any of that bother me as “I was too busy” and I had never allowed myself to hope and therefore no ending could really hurt. What bothered me much more than the relationship endings failures, was the horrifying, intrusive thoughts that someday someone would see what sometimes happened to me when I was on my own. It began at night- time when my body could not rest for more than 2 hours at a time. Then I would wake, mind racing, waves overlapping in my tummy, I tried to hold on tight.

Later, I would learn “Insomnia is the mind’s revenge for all the tricky thoughts he had carefully avoided during the daylight hours” Alain de Bottain,

I vowed to work harder, appease and please more” be kind even when you are tired” became the mantra I lived by, and I was very tired. I hardly ever said no, “besides (I assured the nagging voice within), I was effectively killing two birds with one stone – I was keeping those around me happy at all costs, no one could see what was dying inside me, I was ruffling no feathers. Maya Angelou wrote about why “the caged bird sang”. But I feared and (still do a little), what terrible melancholic sound would emerge and more scarily what if it never stopped!

I researched and researched “how could I get rid of my sadness” I have memorised so many motivational quotes I could give The Rock or Obama a run for their money!

Yet even then I knew that I had lost another control up there. For this was not a simple sadness, but something of a much darker, deeper, stickier substance. Like J.K Rowling’s dementors, this was black and hooded, far too powerful to take just one chair of command. Slowly, it began to infect everything. That was when I began therapy.

My shock and outright refusal to believe that an antidote to this chaos could be by releasing something as tiresome as anger?! Perhaps more succinctly, I learned that the idea was to stop and allow and listen. “To what” I thought irritably as I turned up the dial on the radio after one such counselling session. Not still satisfied I began to challenge my mind in various and often creative ways such as to translate some thoughts into Irish, visualise all the mantras during meditation in colourful fonts, or recall random information from the past. All in a desperate bid to block any inner noise that threatened. No one seemed to seemed to recognise the fear I had of giving in, giving in and giving up were the same to me. “Lord, I’m not finished, just give me a minute” I sang along with The Coronas as I wished desperately for some relief.

Moments of respite along the way gave me hope. I still remember one day at the end of a session when a lightness came over me. It felt so strange but so good. This happened on a few occasions, a bright light spreading from within, almost making me well up with gratitude. But despite this relief, I kept getting dragged back in. When I had found and experienced this light, I wanted to protect it. I resurrected my fly swatting routine as I vowed to let nothing dark touch it. However, as I have to keep reminding myself, I am human. I grew tired. I became desperate as this light began to slip away again. I couldn’t trust that letting go would lead me on the path home.

"I realise now that anger needs not just its day in the sun, but as Rumi says to be welcomed and entertained, treated as an honourable guest."

I realise now that anger needs not just its day in the sun, but as Rumi says to be welcomed and entertained, treated as an honourable guest.

…. So now I feel angry……. Despite Rumi’s teachings, anger is not my favourite guest. Often, I want to batten down the hatches and pretend no one is home. Sometimes, however I unlock the door. I have to fight not to time the visit as my leg shakes irritably and tea/ coffee are still not on the cards. But…… I am trying…. I am human."


"I am angry – I repeat the words several times but I can't seem to add any more to the sentence. The words don't fit for me. That's not to say that I haven't been angry, but, even as I try to reflect on times that I have been, the emotion doesn't fit and so I can't even finish the sentence in retrospect.

I have been frustrated, anxious, disappointed, afraid, hurt, jealous, worried, and sad. And, hiding behind a wall of independent armour and avoiding the vulnerability of these emotions, it would appear that I tend to express them through a tone of anger. 

I have been frustrated, anxious, disappointed, afraid, hurt, jealous, worried, and sad. And, hiding behind a wall of independent armour and avoiding the vulnerability of these emotions, it would appear that I tend to express them through a tone of anger.

You see, if I express the real emotion, I am almost guaranteed to cry and the tone seems weak. Then the focus surrounds my emotional response and not the principle of the message I am trying to convey. I feel unheard, so I take control. I raise the shield, block the tears, tighten the voice box and say what's to be said. Now, to the world, I am angry. But no, I am not angry – I am many things, but angry just doesn't fit. I am grateful for that!"

"I'm finding it hard teaching my child how to deal with these feeling that are making her angry."

"I am not that old, I guess I'm nearly middle aged. So I've done and seen a few things in my life. What I've learned is that "I am angry" is often a cover for other feelings. 

Being a daughter, a sister, and wife and a mother I have felt anger, often red hot, explosive, heart thumping anger. But after the event I often realise that I wasn't feeling anger at all. It was feeling not listened to, feeling patronized, feeling left out or maybe feeling taken for granted. 

Now as a mother of a 4 year old, I'm finding it hard teaching my child how to deal with these feeling that are making her angry. 

She has learned about the colour monster and that angry is red... and she stamps her feet and shouts "it's not fair". 

And life isn't fair, there are many people that struggle with life, that live in really  tough conditions that we can't even begin to imagine. But that's hard for our little people to understand. We have to a knowledge how we feel and talk about the reasons why, when everyone has calmed down.

So instead of feeling life isn't fair and getting angry over things I'm realising  life is a long long road of self discovery and learning, of trying to be grateful with our lot and living in the moment." 

"I am angry that I still see people not social distancing and not obeying the rules. We - those of us who are trying to do the correct thing - should not have to have our return to somewhat normal life be delayed by these inconsiderate folk."
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