I don’t consider myself to be an angry person. I was. I was a very angry teenager and young adult. I worked hard to put that anger away but I think in some ways it backfired on me. As a teenager, I had a seething anger that I kept pretty well hidden except for the occasional explosion. That’s not to say that I didn’t yell and stomp around and slam things like a typical teenager, I did those things. I would argue with my mother just to argue and I think that’s pretty typical.
I’m talking more about that hot burning right under the skin rage that I think a lot of you can relate to. An anger that’s not even anger because that word doesn’t describe it. Maybe rage? But that’s not quite right either. The type of anger that seeps into everything you do, say, and think and makes you want to lash out because the effort of holding it under control is too much to bear. It would have been unacceptable in my home to act out so I turned it inward which was consuming me. Literally, I felt like I was being folded into a pretzel. It was like living two lives: the sunny outward smiling high achieving teenager and the inner dark twisted red hot rage being that I was.
So I drank
I drank a lot. Not at first. At first, my friends and I did it as a joke and a dare. But that rush of alcohol and the numbing effects after were like a miracle to me. I got the usual speech in school-don’t drink. Don’t smoke. But fuck them, they didn’t have to deal with my shit. I did both. I smoked a pack a day from 15-18, until I met my husband. By the time high school was coming to an end, I was drinking a pint of vodka before school and sometimes after. I would binge drink on the weekend. It became a game of how much I could tolerate and how much I could hide. I was good at hiding. After I got my license, my friend and I were out in my moms car looking for bars. I got into an accident and tore the bumper off of her car (no I had not been drinking). My punishment was that I had to take the bus for the rest of my senior year. This was a horrifying to me because seniors didn’t ride the bus. I took the bus in the morning but walked home in the afternoon. It was a long walk and I drank a lot.
I was always in search of the next high, anything to get me away from my thoughts and feelings. Pot, ecstacy, acid, black beauties, oxy’s, benzo. Whatever there was, I tried it. I was impulsive, put myself in dangerous places and situations. Drove reckless. Was crass and rude. I was red hot angry. I seethed with it. Nothing helped for long enough and I was looking for more and more and more. I walked endlessly, miles and miles in any weather. Food stopped tasting good so I stopped eating, People were loud and their problems were stupid to me but I smiled and pretended.
I was tired of pretending
I went to college and flunked out. That finally burst the anger bubble. For the first time, I couldn’t hold it together with a cheerful outward appearance. I was horribly depressed. I collapsed inward on myself. I got lucky and was able to get into another university. The next semester was quiet and that summer, I finally dumped the people who were part of that toxic lifestyle.
Then, I met my husband. As straight an arrow as you could ever meet. No smoking, drinking, drugs, violence, expectations of sex. Calm, rock solid, and kind. Kindness is so underrated. My anger bubbled up and he didn’t leave. I kept pushing and he stayed. We got married and my anger was less seething and more a general rumbling. I actively worked to make it go away and then, it took a lot to get me angry. My work and my kids made me develop a hard core sense of control of my emotions.
Now the trauma memories are back and so is the anger. Not just anger but ANGER!!! And all of that self control I so smugly thought I had? GONE. I am furious at the people who abused me. What the fuck were they thinking? How could they have hurt such a small vulnerable child? I am furious with the adults in my life who were supposed to protect me. Where was everyone? Even in high school, how could NO ONE have noticed I was drunk in school. Are good grades really that good of a cover? That is fucked up. There was no safety net to catch me and I made a lot of mistakes and lost a lot of good friends during that time which I deeply regret. I am tired of pretending. I am tired of having to grind my anger inward but I have no idea what to do with it. How can I use this for good because I am tired of all of the bad. I was thinking about taking a boxing class. I’d really like to hit something productively. I’d really like to feel strong physically and be able to defend myself. I don’t like being angry. I come from a family of angry people and don’t like it. But, it’s part of the healing process. It’s part of getting better. None of this has been easy but I’m having a particularly hard time with this piece of it. If you too, don’t worry, you’re not alone.