By Samantha McKenzie
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” Mark Twain
I spend most of my quality time being a fun, cheerful and encouraging human being. I delight in swapping short stories with others, sharing a few laughs and leaving people feeling good about themselves. I am, at my root, inclined to find the silver lining in any situation. I come ready to instinctively maneuver through life’s mayhems. Nine times out of 10, I’m easy going. But it’s that 10th time that I want to address today.
I hate stereotyping, but I will say, I’m 5’2″ and have been told that makes me inherently a spitfire. I say, I get my fireball tendencies from my mother – a 4’11” Caribbean woman who never took life laying down. This is my only disclaimer to explain how I handle difficult situations and why I sometimes hold on to anger until I explode.
When I get angry, I lash out. I cling to hurt from my past and wrestle with it even more if the pain reoccurs. I hate, above all things, to be left feeling stupid or to allow people to get away with taking advantage of my kindness. I can’t really pinpoint who taught me that I was supposed to be strong and smart and unbreakable, but it has been and still is a part of my persona: A blessing and a curse. My therapist has asked me to discard this burden I have placed on myself and I’m still working on it.
I have a short fuse that’s ignited by a short list of triggers (like disrespect). I know I’m not alone. I have grown accustomed to using my mouth to protect myself. I valiantly use my anger as a weapon to take down the “bad” guys. I let the anger build up and then I spew with sheer accuracy. I have used my anger to protect myself from the lies and the truth and to protect my delicate ego.
I’m aware of my flaws as well. I’m impatient. I’m an idealist. I’m also stubborn. I dig my heels into issues that disturb me: In love, I can be a little scary. At work, I’m set in my ways. And in life, I’ve worked diligently to mask the rage. I have a thousand reasons to explain my anger. I really do. There are times when anger seems justifiable and just downright necessary, but that topic is for another time.
Today I want to convince myself to let it all go. For the sake of good health and moving forward, I want to talk myself into releasing my pain. In some small way I want to forgive my offenders and myself and in turn, use my energy to grow, to expand and to foster productivity in my life.
I refuse to let my anger stunt my progress. I no longer want to carry it around like a heavy weight on my shoulders. Instead, I want to practice taking it to the Lord in prayer and laying my burdens down. I want to rid myself of all of the ugliness it brings with it. It’s robbed me of too much joy. I don’t want the shame and guilt it leaves behind anymore. Nowadays, I can look back and see how I’ve allowed it to block my productivity and my blessings and how it’s allowed me to live in an excuse.
Anger has to find a new home. It’s assumed many starring roles before – from victim, to defendant, to impostor. Worst of all, on a few occasions, it’s made me become a person I never wanted to be.
I suggest we all find a way to communicate our true feelings. Find ways to have healthy dialogue and conversations that convey our needs and expectations and leave people more willing to do better the next time. I urge us to be vulnerable, to be flawed, to be imperfect – and recognize these same qualities in others.
My friend told me about a “letting go” party that she hosted for her friends. They wrote down things that have hurt them through their lifetime and then burned those pieces of paper as a way of symbolically releasing their pain. Some of the ladies burned other items as a way of letting go. They emoted that day. They also healed.
Next time, instead of lashing out, talk it out. Write it out in a letter if you have to. Do something each day to recognize the things that you are angry about, and release it in a healthy manner.
Take one step. Then two. Pivot. Then let it go.