I am not used to feeling angry. Oh sure, now and again I lose my cool, but it subsides and I move on with my day. Lately however, I've been struggling with a situation that has left me wanting to say mean, nasty things, cuss, and throw rude hand gestures. Heaven help me, this isn't who I want to be.
When I realized that I wasn't able to fully control this emotion, I decided to take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program at work and went to talk to a therapist about how to work through my anger.
I have always been a proponent of therapy but have never actually participated in a session myself. I was nervous (what do you say?) and a little shy (should I lay down on the couch like they do on tv? I didn't.) and honestly, part of what I was feeling (superiority, righteous indignation) felt GOOD. Did I really want to let it go?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
So a couple of weeks ago I went for my first session with Curtis. He asked what was going on and I told him everything; hand gestures (not rude) and a few tears... and oh, it felt so good. "You're very in touch with your emotions", he said. Indeed! He also told me, in typical therapist fashion, that being angry is OK. That if I didn't feel anger I wouldn't be human. And that if I wasn't angry at the situation, we would have a much longer session.
We only had two sessions, and it was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. At the end of our second session, Curtis told me about a man who attends one of his AA groups. This man struggles with serious anger issues directed toward another person and he recently decided to pray for the person every day.
This caused me to take a step back. Yes. Pray. I don't want anything bad to happen to the person. I want them to be better. To heal from any hurt they too are dealing with. I can control what I do for this person. Pray. I will pray.
Here's what else I learned.
There is a difference between being confrontational and being assertive.
The obvious: I have to let go. Most of the situation is out of my control, so dwelling on it does no good. Anger only hurts me. Let.it.go. He also forced me to focus on what IS in my control and the role that I play in the situation. That brought me back to reality.
Jesus Christ was a great peacemaker; an advocate for peace and justice who fought against injustice. And Jesus Christ got MAD. He overturned tables in the temple and cast out the money changers. He worked tirelessly for peace because he was so upset by injustice. If it was ok for Jesus to get angry, I guess it's ok for me to be angry, too. I just can't let it control me or turn me into someone I'm not.
(I apologize for the cryptic tone of this post. I don't want to talk about the situation so much as the feelings of anger and how I'm working through them. Just know that it's not anything to do with my amazing family, all of whom I love more every day. They show me, and make me feel the love, that almost completely eclipses the anger.)