Angry is Easier

In 8th or 9th grade, I remember a light switch going off.  Click.  I was no longer the goofy, somewhat naively happy teen who thought making silly faces was hilarious and who loved sports more than anything.  Suddenly I was angry.   I was angry with society and I was angry with my parents and I was angry with my friends.

I remember getting mad at a friend of mine over something stupid, and I hit her in the head with my notebook at school.  As hard as a spiral notebook full of lined paper could ever be hit at someone.  And I hurt her, probably more emotionally than physically, but either way, we didn’t talk much after that day.  I walked around like a husk of myself, hollow inside, feeling cold and empty and not knowing who the hell this person was who was such an asshole.  I’d like to say this was the only asshole move I’ve ever made, but that would be a lie.  I still feel badly about that day.

Usually my friends were left relatively unscathed, but my dad got the brunt of it. He was an easy target.  My pent-up emotions needed an outlet.  Teenagers tend not to choose healthy outlets and I was no exception.  Why actually deal with my emotions when it was SO EASY to just release them by starting a fight?  YELLING SCREAMING PUNCHING.  As a teacher now I see students do this to their parents and their other teachers.  I’ve even heard some of them tell me they do this on purpose, and I marvel at their self-awareness.  I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, because I was too busy screaming and yelling and punching.

But, every time I got angry with any of the people I loved, and lashed out at them, I got angry with myself.

Because I wasn’t even really angry to begin with.

I was sad.

Looking back, it is clear that I was clinically depressed, not at my all time lowest low, but my first lowest low and not too far off from the all time record.  But, who admits being sad?  Especially if there wasn’t a reason?  Sad is weak.  Angry is strong.  A strong voice.  A strong punch.

Many, many, years later, my husband’s best friend, who he had known practically since birth, died in a horrific motorcycle accident.  He was wearing his helmet, but wearing a helmet doesn’t save you when your wheels skid on some gravel and you end up sliding into oncoming traffic and get dragged to pieces by a semi-truck. Other than high school this was the most angry I’ve ever been at someone.

Yes, I was angry at my husband’s dead best friend. I was angry at him for dying.

“DIDN’T YOU KNOW WHAT THIS WOULD DO TO HIM?! YOU DID!  SO WHY THE FUCK WEREN’T YOU MORE CAREFUL?”  Why the fuck weren’t you more careful!  LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO HIM!   A broken record of yelling inside my head.  For a year.

At this point I was old enough to realize this wasn’t rational, but that didn’t change how I felt.  I was selfishly angry at this happy, carefree, kind, now-dead boy because I knew my husband would forever have a hole in his heart in the shape of his friend.

But bloody hell, I’m 34 years old.  I think I heard somewhere that I’m supposed to be an adult by now.  And adults don’t do that.  Well, okay, some do.  But not the adults I would like to be like someday, when I grow up.

And angry isn’t strong.  Angry is weak.  Angry is selfish.  Angry isn’t even ACCURATE.  It’s just there because it’s easier.  It’s lazy.  I know from experience that if I act angry enough, then I am sure to be left alone and can continue to avoid the real problem for as long as possible. It’s easier to be angry and mean and lash out and push away than it is to deal with my problems, my fears, my out of whack hormones.

So today, 7 years after the motorcycle accident, I’ll admit it.  I’m sad. And instead of yelling and punching, I’ll make silly faces and go to yoga and give those around me a hug.  7th grade me knew what life was all about.

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If you enjoyed this post you might also like The Accidental Marathoner and   Depression is Analogous to Treading Water

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29 thoughts on “Angry is Easier

  1. I lost my best friend, maid of honor, non blood sister on my 30th birthday to a tragic car accident. I cussed her everyday for a year. I can so relate to this post! Finally my wonderful husband told me to seek help.
    It’s amazing how long I has lived with depression because I didn’t want to admit how sad I was all these years. Especially considering how blessed my life honestly is. But even before Tonya’s death, I walked around in an empty shell.
    Thank you for writing this. Hopefully it will lead someone to the help the deserve 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, Sandi. I’m so sorry. I can completely imagine the cussing out – how could she leave you – and ON YOUR BIRTHDAY! So glad your husband helped get you out of the funk – it is SO HARD to get out of it (and we’re never really out completely, are we?) Light and love to you.

  2. If only everyone could make this much growth in discovering who they are and making changes for the better. You’ve started with yourself and your words will travel far and wide.

  3. You always, always, always write something that sucks the breath right out of me and nearly drops me to my knees because….well, because it always hits home. You’re right, of course. Anger is easy, so much easier than sad. Sad is hard, but recognizing that it’s part of the journey and not the destination, is half the battle.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you. Just like certain posts and books and movies hit us, so do certain comments. And it feels good when you know you’re not crazy and alone and the only one who feels this way. Have you checked out the oatmeal’s comic on running yet? I have a feeling you would love it. theoatmeal.com/comics/running

      • I did see the oatmeal’s running “comic”….I think I started following him? because of you. And I loved it, and I printed it, and I taped it to the wall in front of the treadmill (beside yours). I often contemplate, while running of course, if the reason I’m running is to escape the sad so I’m not quite so angry. Or is that I’m quieting the anger so I can hear the sad? Whichever, it seems to be helping and there’s absolutely no harm in feeling better, is there?

        • Awesome. Double awesome. And yes, anything to feel better. Anything. I shared the oatmeal comic with an online running group i’m in and let’s just say they didn’t quite get it like we do. A bunch of ab crunchers, I guess 😉

  4. I so, so, so relate to this!!! I remember a time when I was about 13 or 14 years old when I’d said something completely awful and bitchy to one of my (much younger) siblings, and thought to myself afterwards, “What the hell is the matter with me? I used to be a nice person.” And even now, I agree. Angry is so much easier than sad.

    I will make the argument, though, that sometimes angry serves a productive purpose (as it has for me over the last 7 or 8 months). Sometimes angry will keep you getting out of bed in the morning when sad would have just left you laying there. If it goes on for too long, it’s not healthy, but everything in moderation, right?

    • You know, I hadn’t thought of that, but you are spot on. When I read your comment I immediately pictured lethargic depressive me staying in bed for days and not having the energy to move. Anger and strong will can definitely be motivating. It’s a delicate balance, I guess.

  5. Im still haunted/feel guilty about the last time i talked to him. It was the night before the accident. I remember i was in a hurry to get off the phone and had cut the conversation short. My last words to him were either “dont die” , “dont crash” or “dont kill yourself”. Then the next afternoon i got a phone call that i will never forget. : (

    • Ugh. That is hard. We’d like to think that every last conversation we have with someone would be amazing and meaningful, but let’s face it that just isn’t realistic at all and it is quite unfair to make ourselves feel badly when it didn’t work out like that, especially in an unexpected event like this. You have nothing to feel guilty about and you didn’t make anything bad happen, and you know that. Let a little bit of that go, if you can.

  6. I feel like this too! About him and about my other best frown who took her life. And you re exactly right in saying there is a hole in your heart with his and her shape……I never could put into words just how I felt but you said it perfectly!!!

  7. I agree with you that there is so much more than anger, and it all needs to come out. It’s so important to be sad and to grieve and mourn. You are honoring yourself and your husband’s friend in doing so. But I do think that anger serves a purpose too; I don’t think it is just weak and selfish. Anger is fire and so is creativity. I think they come from the same place. I think the problem isn’t anger, but the fact that anger doesn’t have a channel. It’s like electricity…it can electrocute you or it can give you light, depending on how it is channeled.

    • That’s true. Anger and creativity do feel like they come from that same burning pit inside.. I guess the lazy part isn’t the anger itself, but the channeling it in unhealthy ways. ZAP.

  8. I remember getting angry at things that didn’t even make sense to me back in school. Chalked it up as hormonal. Growing up. Trying to ‘find’ myself. Then it happened again right after my first marriage. Chalked it up to being confused on this marriage stuff.

    I can find tons of reasons and things to blame it on. You’re right. Anger is weak. It’s the easy way out. Bravo to you for seeing that and doing what’s right!! And maybe I will, too, someday. =)

    You’re fab…

  9. I never got angry at my brother. I got PISSED at the man who sold him his motorcycle. I was furious with God, the world, with everyone who still has a brother. I got angry at all the people who stared at the accident and those who cursed because our family tragedy inconvenienced their day. But I never got mad at Tony – just sad and abandoned and lonely. And cheated out of all our tomorrows…

    • I imagine it would be impossible to get mad at your brother. At EVERYONE ELSE – YES! A resounding yes. This guy was like my husband’s brother…I don’t think he ever got mad at him, either. But, I did. SO. MAD. I guess I was more sad for my husband than for him, Which I know isn’t right.

  10. But the sadness that follows after the angriness, at the anger is more intolerable than the reason of anger…………….. 😉

  11. You hit the nail on the head. Angry IS so much easier. My husband has spent a lot of his adult life being angry. I didn’t get it, why he would choose that. I tried to be supportive. I hadn’t yet made the link between anger and depression with him. Then his brother committed suicide a little over a year ago. I was so angry! So I got it. I got past it, but it helped to understand a little of the anger feeling like that. Thanks so much for sharing, soul sister.

  12. I disagree…sadness and depression are easier/lazy. When I get into a certain mindset, tears and emotions want to be all my brain has time for. I do hate to cry, but, that is not the reason to redirect that emotional energy. If I allow myself to get into a state of mind of depression, of might take days or weeks to recover. Not to mention the chance of doing something everyone else would regret while I am in that mind state.
    For me anger is a much safer, more productive place to be. I can apologize for being an asshole from time to time, if need be. I can’t apologize for something I might do while feeling sad that I can’t take back…anger REQUIRES attention and will power to not let it over take the moment…for many people, I think, depression does not give you much of a choice for will power or control.

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