Why Am I So Angry?
Updated: Nov 10
Anger is interesting. When it’s coming out of your mouth, it sounds witty as hell and completely appropriate. Then, as you’re skimming other people’s blogs for inspirational or comparative purposes, you come across another young lady spewing vitriol and you’re like…you sound dumb. And she does. And so do you. And so do I.
There are two natural responses to this revelation: a) change the way you sound because you really do sound stupid; or b) be angry anyways. So what. Writing is two parts cathartic for every part exhibitionism, right?
Why do I always choose b?
Getting and staying publicly angry is sort of like getting drunk or getting high or doing whatever other dumb self-destructive thing you need to do occasionally (or all the time, I dunno who you are) to reset. You know you’re going to regret it, but maybe you have to do it anyways, as much for the cathartic release of the anger (booze, drugs, etc) itself as for the way appearing angry (drunk, high) to other people makes you look like a fool to everyone else who isn’t riding your irrational high. It’s relinquishing the image for a second. Laying down the self-appointed cross you bear every day of needing to be a good, temperate, decent fellow. When you are on the opposite side of the sneer, see, perhaps, how you empathy begins to skyrocket, if just for a moment. See how you become, temporarily, human, not glass.
I. Part One. The anger itself.
The other day I was talking some friends of mine about how people generally don’t really care about other people, and why that is. I don’t mean people don’t care about their friends or family, but most people don’t care about people in general. And how I was up for debating the point that even though nobody cares about anybody, only certain people get thrown in prison for not caring, because only certain people get to feel the immediate consequences of their actions. Everyone else gets to not care with impunity. You could argue that we’re all already locked in the prison of our hardened hearts, and I wouldn’t argue with you, but that’s just not the point I’m currently trying to make.
I was really wanting to talk about this book I’d read and have already talked about to everyone I know and written about it on this blog, which gets, I am sure, a least tens of hits each month, called My Stroke of Insight, because I hadn’t talked about it yet with these friends. And so I’m talking about how amazing it is that this neuroanatomist who had a stroke that shut down the left side of her brain (and she experienced this profound one-ness with everything) was talking about how maybe neuroscience can help us understand why we, as humans, are living in this one particular shitty and disconnected way that we don’t have to live in
So, I’m trying to talk about this big metaphysical truth I see about how everybody does shitty things because actually nobody cares about other people, and we should really be figuring out why that is and how we can change it, but also that some people are allowed to not care about people, and some people aren’t. For example, please see any meme on the internet involving anything race/criminal justice/politics related. Here’s one. I was talking about this in the context of the criminal justice system, because it’s always good practice to try to bullshit your way to a connection with something practical even if your main point is like, look, we should all just love each other. Anyways, so I was talking about how if society prioritized empathy, the country would be saving so much money on the prison industrial complex yada yada yada, but like really trying to get across the underlying point that look, we’re all living our lives, and we all deserve this fucking tenderness, and of course people turn out fucked up when they don’t get that tenderness because i mean, love really is our whole happiness. We’ve gotta, as a people, start caring more. We do not give a real shit about other people, and it’s so easy to do that. Because nothin really happens.
And I’m getting angrier and angrier as I’m talking about this, because seriously, nothing fucking happens when we don’t care. There’s no huge sign that lights up when you make any status quo decision (which we all make) that let’s us know, even if only so we can dismiss it, that hey–any in group demands an out group. There’s a price to be paid for being on the inside. Only, usually it’s paid by the people outside. Of course it makes sense for people to want to be on the inside. It’s safe, you’re loved, you have your people. But everyone can’t be on the inside. There’s not enough space, or money, or whatever. If you’re on the inside, you gotta know it’s because there’s someone on the outside. Someone who doesn’t have enough money, who isn’t safe, who doesn’t have any people.
And, I’m really winding up now, we don’t actually have to live this way right. Like what if we could train our brains to see unity, rather than distinction? Ugh yeah I know, I want to strangle myself immediately upon saying this as well, so I try to back it up with some hard science. I mean like, what if being in in/out groups isn’t this innate human characteristic but could be fiddled with? What if, lying dormant somewhere in our brains, is the ability to tap into the neurons and synapses and whatever that allow us to empathize with everyone, everything, without feeling threatened?
It started off as no big deal. But what I’m really saying, all along, why won’t you love me? Not to anyone in particular, maybe to these friends in particular. Regardless of who I’m talking to, I’m actually getting angry with these people with me now. Like, come on guys, give a shit about something that’s not political or respectable because nothing ever comes down to shit you read in the economist in the end, it all comes down to how lonely we feel.
One of my friends turns to me, as I’m all passionately winding down, and she’s very gently like “I think you just want everyone else to be as introspective as you are.”
I don’t know. DO I?
Part Two. You mad?
I don’t feel like I’m relinquishing any image. I feel like I’m standing naked in the middle of the fucking woods with two strangers. And I don’t quite know why.
Every time you self destruct you see how destructible you are. How fucking frail. Whether that’s because the cost/benefit analysis of drinking vs. not drinking has done an embarrassingly hasty head-over-heels inversion at some point between 25-27 and you’re suddenly on your knees on the sidewalk trying to nonchalantly vomit in front of the 22 year old bouncer, or because you realize, suddenly, in the middle of what was supposed to be a casual hangout with friends that you’ve been ranting about People and their various follies for about 15 minutes and they’re looking at you politely and you can tell they’re sort of just waiting for you to fucking make your point and shutup already because you’re embarrassing yourself. Because this is not an Other People problem, this is a You problem. And suddenly you feel, not so angry, but so so so stupid.
You feel stupid because the world is turning it’s eye on you and how you’re letting the effects of something everyone does/knows get to you. You’re supposed to be able to hold your drink. You’re supposed to be able to accept the way the world works.
You quietly implode. Perhaps, to be introspective about anger is to seek to understand what is it about you that makes you unable to withstand the blows?
Not to think there is something external to you that you see and feel and recognize that is beating. the shit. out of you and them constantly.
But how can anyone be introspective about shit like the world without wanting to explode?
Part Three. “the most curious thing about the supposed lies of Diego, is that in the long and short of it, those who are involved in the imaginary combination become angry, not because of the lie, but because of the truth contained in the lie, that always comes to the surface.”
There is a part of you that wants to just shut up and be ok. Perhaps self-destruction is wanting to destroy that part of you that wants to make a fuckin fool of yourself all the time. I tried to drown all my damned sorrows but my sorrows learned to swim. (That’s a Frida quote, or so I hear).
Well, of course it’s all true. All of it. There is something wrong with you, but there is something wrong with me too.
But mainly, I think I just want other people to feel the same way I do. Because I think more people would be less lonely, if you’d like me to put it as frankly and perhaps sadly as possible.
Anyways, nothin ever really happens.