Damon Wayans has really pissed me off. The kind of pissed off where I can feel my carotid artery swelling and threatening to explode. His recent comments on his “theory” of what’s really going on with the allegations against Bill Cosby are horrifying to me. I can’t begin to articulate my thoughts on it—and I won’t here. That pot is brewing for another time.
Wayans’ comments make me angry on a number of levels. But…then what?
Anger. It is a powerful emotion, and one I am pretty darn skilled in. My hackles get raised with what I consider unjust/hurtful/flat out wrong aspects of life. But…then what?
I get angry on two basic levels: societal and personal.
Societal level anger includes things like Wayans’ comments, the travesty and tragedy of the refugee crisis, religious hypocrisy, lack of clean drinking water…you get the idea.
And though all of my anger is personal to me, the personal anger I’m referring to here is intimate…people I know…things that have happened to me or a loved one. Again, you get the idea. I’m not trying to write an essay on types of anger…I just want to speak to how I see it and what it can do to people.
Since anger is an emotion that few (if any) of us escape completely, I think what really matters is what we do with it.
Sometimes it can move us to action—both good and bad, right? I would love to say that as a parent, I never let my anger move me to yell at my kid—and sometimes yell way beyond the actual offense. (Popular phrases include, “That’s it!” “If I ever…” “Do that one more time and see what happens” “For the love of all that is holy…”) When I don’t check my gut and instead let it ooze all over…I let anger get the worst of me.
Sometimes, though, it can get the best of me, too. Standing up for what I know is right and working to help make it right, for me, often have their origins in anger. Though I haven’t fully figured out what my active response is to the cultural problems that Wayans’ comments reflect, it is on my heart, and I am figuring. One thing that I believe is a small way that can help the issue is my striving to raise a son who values all people equally. I will do my utmost to help him to grow into a man who doesn’t believe that how a woman dresses or acts factors into whether or not she is “asking for it.” A step in the right direction…but more steps to follow.
Processing anger is key. And, if you’re like me, this is especially true for anger on a personal level. The hurts felt within relationships can hit really hard and have lasting effects well beyond what is right or healthy.
And all too often the one who is angry is the only one truly involved! I’m not talking about being mad at the driver who cut you off on your way to work—where you can bet that you are the only one having feelings about it—but with people we personally know, as well.
I remember long ago hearing the story of one man who came up to another and told him that he decided he was no longer going to be mad at him. He’d been mad for two years, and he was willing to let it go at this point. After forgiving him, he walked away, leaving the other man to comment, “I didn’t even know he was mad at me!”
What a waste of energy and spirit.
I have situations in my life where I am well aware that I am the only one “having all of the feelings”–including a ton of anger directed at that person I see in the mirror. These feelings do nothing but weigh me down and hold me back. Anger left unprocessed can eat away at a person from the inside out—and I’d kinda like to keep my insides. (Well, if I could direct anger to just eat the fat, I would look for things to get mad at, but that’s not exactly how it works.)
But the processing of anger that comes from deep-down places doesn’t exactly happen easily, at least not for me. If I saw that I was slamming a door that had my hand in it, it’s safe to say I would stop. Oh, if dealing with emotions was only that simple! I find it just a teensy bit more complicated than that. Still, I strive to pull my proverbial head out of my proverbial ass because I know that I will appreciate the fresh air that comes with it.
Ultimately, no matter what kind of anger you are dealing with, if it doesn’t move you toward positive action or healing, then it’s time to let it go. I can attest to this being much easier said than done—but taking the easy way on this path will leave you carrying bricks upon bricks into the ocean.
And that seems like a choice that just won’t float.