On Friday, a series of unfortunate events (for which I unapologetically blame the MTA, which I happen to hate) transformed my commute, normally half an hour long, into a 90-minute debacle that ended with me getting off the train and walking two and half miles home and crying intermittently. In my opinion, commuting on the NYC subway is unpleasant in the best of conditions; when something is wrong with the system, it’s a nightmare. At any rate, the details of what happened aren’t particularly important. What has really stuck with me is the fact that it triggered what has felt like something of an on-going emotional meltdown. And to be a bit more specific, when I say emotional, I really mean anger.
I am really bad at dealing with anger. It makes me uncomfortable when I witness it in other people, and it makes me really uncomfortable when I experience it. I grew up being told that I was “too angry” about things, and as a result I tend to give myself a really hard time when something makes me angry now. Anger, for me, very quickly leads to shame and guilt, which of course makes the whole experience even more unpleasant. The ordeal I went through on Friday afternoon unleashed a flood of anger that I’ve been bottling up for a while now, and as I walked up Broadway with tears rolling down my cheeks I felt overwhelmed by it all. The hardest part is that a lot of what is making me so angry has to do with the way my life just happens to be right now. I know things could be a lot worse, and I’m grateful for what I have, but there are also circumstances that are somewhat beyond my control that I can’t help but struggle with.
Here are some of the things that have made their way out since the Pandora’s box was opened on Friday:
- I’m angry that I was bullied out of my previous job by a woman who wasn’t held the least bit accountable for the fact that she contributed to my needing to be hospitalized;
- I’m angry that even though I sought help from administrators, work colleagues, and supervisors while I was employed and getting bullied at Columbia, everyone essentially turned their back on me;
- I’m angry that now, instead of making $43,000 a year, I make $31,500 and don’t have enough money to pay the hospital bills that I have as a result of what happened at Columbia, that the health insurance I have now costs more and covers less (and doesn’t really cover therapy at all);
- I’m angry that I spend every day struggling with simple decisions about what to eat;
- I’m angry that I live in a room–not a one-bedroom apartment, or a studio, but a room–and share a bathroom and kitchen with neighbors because I can’t afford to live anywhere else;
- I’m angry that I’m almost 30, and I see what other people my age are doing on Facebook and all around me, and I feel like a complete failure because I am still in an entry-level job;
- I’m angry because I can’t just look in the mirror and accept what I see;
- I’m angry because I work so hard on so many things, and at the end of the day I still feel like I’m not good enough;
- But more than any of those things, I’m angry at myself for getting so angry in the first place, for not being able to just let it go, for letting myself get bullied, for having to leave that job, for not being able to pay my bills, for not being able to just get over it and have a normal relationship with food, and for being the person that I am because I feel like that’s really what got me to where I am today.
Anger is such a difficult emotion. There are ways in which it can be constructive, but it seems like there are more ways in which it can be destructive. In the case of some of the things I listed above, there are steps I can take in an effort to experience the anger productively, and not let it eat away at me. But in the case of others, I’m not sure what to do. Just looking at them gives me a sense of hopelessness and failure, and it’s hard for me to remind myself that these things are not reflections on who I am or what I can be or do in my life. I have to be careful to let myself feel angry, but also guard against the danger of letting that anger take over so entirely that there’s none of me left.