Circumstances

An NYCTA token from the mid-20th century

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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.

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10 comments

  1. *hugs* Don’t think of yourself as a failure at all. If you hadn’t told me all that stuff, I would’ve never known any of that about you, but it doesn’t change the way I look at you and probably no one else either… if it does, then that person’s a loser anyway!

    Stuff happens to everyone, bad things happen to good people. It’s not really explainable but the money you make, your job, your insurance, etc… they affect you but they’re not who you are. And a lot of those things, like the food anxiety and wanting to eat normal, not liking what you see in the mirror, being bullied at jobs, etc… happen to me too. I know I’m not in your circumstances financially, but don’t ever feel like you’re suffering alone…

    A.L.

  2. I wish I knew what to say to make all the anger disappear. All I can say is that feeling anger is ok (hard for those of us who learned the opposite long ago) and letting out your anger is perfectly ok. I would do something noisy like listen to 80s hair metal or destructive like shredding all of my junk mail at once or popping bubble wrap.

  3. “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; ”

    Right there with you. I have been pissed off all morning because I cut my workout about halfway through yesterday. It was a brick workout – I did the swim, threw on shorts straight out of the pool and started biking. But I was wet and miserable and it was windy so I just biked home instead of doing the 26km I had planned. More days than not I feel like I didn’t work out enough, and don’t even get me started on the food self-judgment.

    I am trying to take comfort in the fact that we don’t get angry over things that don’t matter (uh, you know, unless it’s something like your partner dragging his toe nails across your leg – NOT COOL) – at least we’re living our lives with passion?

    Anywho, just saying you’re not alone! 🙂

  4. First of all, I really wish I had kept up with your blog more! I so much appreciate your honesty and authenticity. You know through my work in therapy I’ve come to appreciate anger as a pretty healthy emotion. You’re angry because you’re standing up for yourself. You should have been treated better!!!! Of course you are angry. I guess where I get in trouble is when I keep trying to stuff the anger down and tell myself that being angry is not acceptable. I too was told that I was “too angry” as a child! My therapist calls anger a “gateway emotion” I can’t remember exactly why (LOL) I think that because once you get through the anger, you realize you’re really hurt or scared or both. I’m sorry you’re going through an emotional time – I sure can empathize with you girl. Hang in there.

    If you ever think about moving elsewhere you should look into AZ – you could definitely be in your own apartment at 31,500 out here, everything is a lot cheaper. What is it that you do again? I might even be able to help you find a job. 🙂 You’re in my thoughts girl.

  5. well in the post alone it sounds like you worked through at least a teeny bit of that. i often don’t accept myself either. not good, i know, but true. i compare myself to EVERYONE else; i’m never good enough.

    you could def consider moving – cost of living is so much less everywhere else. (cough, come to SC, cough) 🙂

  6. Toute la journée, j’ai essayé de trouver quelque chose à écrire ici pour te faire du bien. Je n’ai rien trouvé. Alors sache simplement que j’ai pensé à toi et que j’espère que toute cette colère se transforme en bonne énergie. Bise.

  7. This was a brave post and as one of your readers, albeit an infrequent commenter, i really appreciate your honesty. It makes me feel less alone.

  8. Like others, I’ll throw in a plea to move closer to me… Vegas is awesome, but really hot in the summer! 😉

    Anyway, the positive in all of this is that you are recognizing your anger and the things that you are angry about. Some of it isn’t anything you can necessarily do something about in terms getting others to be accountable, but you can always act upon how you choose to look at it and how you respond. Anger can be healthy, it can lead you to making good changes.

    I’ve been realizing that I have anger toward certain things lately too. I was always one to keep the majority of my emotions trapped inside… and well, that didn’t get me anywhere healthy or positive!

    HUGS to you! I can certainly empathize with you!

  9. I’m exactly the same way when it comes to anger. I’m like dynamite and once I get set off it’s just an explosion of negative emotions about everything ‘wrong’ in my life and how everything is my fault.
    I wish I could help you because then I could probably help myself deal with anger better.

    What I do when I get in one of these fits is yell it out. I just yell and scream and cry and punch pillows, whatever helps. Then I take a time out. Then I try to force myself to smile.

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