The other day as I was walking back from my trip to the pharmacy, I saw a man take his shirt off and hit the pole with it several times until he got exhausted, shouting simultaneously. The words were incoherent, but the anger was palpable. It was a sunny morning and many people were walking so I was not afraid. I was a bit concerned.
I went on with my walk home and drove to the cottage. My thoughts returned to that man’s anger in the lake’s quiet. Slowly, I was down into my depths, and I felt the rage as well. Persons, events, and memories flooded my mind, and I understood how much anger I repressed and denied in my life. I could hit a pole, too, like that man—more than a hundred times.
Going back to my childhood, I felt anger but never got a handle on my feeling. I remembered my mother asking me why I was happy in school and with my friends, but the moment I arrived home, I got angry and vented my anger on anyone or anything.
I never thought about it then, or maybe because, at that time, I did not have the answer, so I let it slide. Looking back, my teachers and classmates had a say in my performance. My teachers rated me, and my classmates voted in classroom elections. My parents and people at home did not. So, in school and outside of the house, I pleased people. I was outstanding at pleasing people. I was a model student and topped everything, but something nagged inside me.
Maybe, because I was a second child and tried to get more attention, I hated home because my elder sister, the firstborn, was there. I resented this without anyone noticing it, or maybe they saw and recognized it as normal behaviour in a second child.
After years of this anger, I became an expert in hiding my anger from others. I hid it as my pride would never allow me to let others know that anything hurt or affected me. No way will they get such satisfaction. But the outbursts came, often at people I expected to understand me. Of course, they didn’t, as I had never expressed how I felt. Outwardly, I was an achiever, so nobody thought of the feelings I had as a second fiddle. They only saw the pride and wanted to deflate the inflated ego.
Sometimes, these outbursts would come at the most unexpected times. A word or comment could trigger it. After such strong emotions, my husband would say, Eow, where did that come from?
Now, I am seriously taking the steps to acknowledge and accept this anger.
Anger was inside me, ignored or denied for many years. I grew up in a culture where you do this. You are encouraged to keep to yourself negative emotions for harmony within the family and the more extensive group the family is part of.
Acknowledging anger started my liberation. I accept it as a valid emotion responding to what threatens or hurts me. It no longer has a hold on me. I have a handle on it.