09: Stories of Anger


The mythology of anger teaches me that I am in the wrong if I am angry. In the process, I fall into an idiot compassion to avoid my discomfort and excuse a lot of abusive and malicious behaviors.

In hindsight, the damage I allowed by not being angry is most evident with Painter but also with Beatrix, my parents, my brother, and Harley. In hindsight, it is also apparent in my relationship with clients and vendors.

I want to skip talking about my anger and jump to a solution. Sometimes, I just want to be the “bigger person” and “a man” about It, let It go.

Often that makes sense, but my unskillfulness told me I had to treat the inappropriate and unskillful behaviors dumped into my life like a dog shakes off water. I lied to myself to avoid the feeling of discomfort inherent to conflict. I believed I deserved their crappy behavior and adopted an idiot compassion.

In truth, I lacked the skills to navigate the experience and a partner aware enough to check themselves.

For example, Painter felt entitled to keep things not hers, say things not true, and encourage rumormongering and a smear campaign because she benefitted from the narrative. To call bullshit was to be accused of scaring or harassing her, a convenient way for a pretty woman to deflect accountability.

Recently Beatrix said, “this would be so much easier if you just hated me.” And Beatrix is right. I’m sure without much effort, I could manufacture a reason to hide my anger behind the lazy bravado of hate. 

Hating Beatrix (or Painter) would be easier, of course. I could play victim, wrap myself in suffering, and shift my discomfort onto others. I wouldn’t have to be responsible for my anger because I could leverage it to outsource my feelings of discomfort to others. I could avoid what is hard and make it someone else’s problem.

However, like revenge, hating is a lazy and unskillful way to communicate anger. It is a simple cover for emotionally avoidant people. Just as blaming myself for other people’s behaviors is my avoidance.

Recently, Dash played the victim and embraced silence to avoid her discomfort and to avoid being accountable for our relationship.

Dash’s behavior made me angry.

Historically, I would have buried my anger and minimized her behaviors. I would have told myself–and Dash–it’s a practice. I would have tried to soothe her discomfort by going to her and conforming to her anxiety.

I would have hidden, buried, ignored, avoided my anger, and never called it out. Instead, I would have fallen back to internalizing a hero’s narrative and idiot compassion.

Today, I’m not doing that. Instead, I called out the behavior and tried to talk about how Dash’s behaviors impacted me and the security of the relationship. In reaction, she hung up and went silent, only to resurface weeks later, telling a story of her being a victim.

Which, frankly, made me angry again.

Anger taught me that Dash is manipulative and will gaslight others to avoid accountability and connection. Anger reminded me that not every relationship is intended to survive the fire. By listening to my anger and walking away, I am on a path to practicing better relationship skillfulness.

In the past, I would have pursued Dash emotionally to mend the broken connection even as she sought to avoid it. I would have thrown myself on the sword to fix it and apologized for asking her to be an adult and show up for the relationship.

I won’t do that again.

I won’t pursue relationships with people that won’t own their behaviors and suffering. Pursuing a connection from the avoidant person is to listen to the dictates of trauma. The pursuit of repairing to re-pair is chaos making with the entitled.

Growth-informed means a willingness to be anger-informed.

As Tara Brach writes, “Anger is natural, intelligent, and necessary for surviving and flourishing.” 

Anger reminds me that when someone feels entitled to slam a door (or phone) to end a conversation, I am not obligated to open the door again for them. In this relationship, anger reminds me that surviving and flourishing means their silence and entitlement need not manipulate me.

In other words, “Angry is good. Angry gets shit done.” (American Gods, S1:E8). Frankly, I am done.