“Angry” I answer when my psychologist asks me to describe myself in one word.
I have no reason to be this angry at life, at least not one that I'm acutely aware of, but since I can remember remembering, I have had this lingering anger, like a simmering pot in the background always waiting to pop its lid.
The epiphany comes a couple of weeks later when I stumble across someone on the internet who explains it in a way that I have never thought of, but immediately resonate with.
It's so simple in fact, that I can't believe it took me 43 years and almost ten mental health practitioners and God only knows how many antidepressants to figure it out! And then to find it on the bloody internet! It makes me wonder if perhaps it is imperative that we struggle to reach an “ah ha moment” - will we not appreciate it enough otherwise? All these pieces of a puzzle that wouldn't have made a proper picture if I didn't have them all.
“Why are you so afraid of losing control?” That was the other thing she asked me. “There is always some underlying fear.” she says. Only, there isn't. I'm simply afraid of losing control. The fear of letting go. The same reason I find it excruciatingly difficult to just 'let go and have fun'. I don't know why I can't. I just know I can't. Never seemed to have learned that skill.
Until this woman on the internet explains it and it all falls into place. Like a game of Tetris!
Another thing I've realised in my many years of self-discovery is that we are all emotionally fucked-up. My therapist doesn't like it when I say it like that, but it is what it is. She is the same person who tells me that there is not a single person she knows of, who couldn't benefit from a few sessions of therapy. Call it counselling, call it soul searching, personal development, whatever floats your boat. We all need it! Apparently.
Whether we live in abject poverty and are merely struggling to survive each day, or whether we live in a household where money was never a problem, but affection somehow had to be 'earned', we have been traumatised. Whether we grew up in a home with overt physical or emotional abuse or simply with a mother who didn't know how to show affection to children that she actually very much loved, we are all traumatised somewhere, somehow. It's part of life and therefore we are all emotionally fucked-up. In some way or another, no matter how well-meaning our parents were, they would screw us up anyway.
But then this woman comes along and reminds me that anger is in fact a basal, primal emotion. We have labelled it as a ‘negative’ emotion and therefore there is this underlying belief that has been drummed into us that the very act of feeling anger is somehow bad. We have been taught that showing anger and aggression is simply not socially acceptable.
Except, when you think about it, it really isn't good or bad or anything, really. It just is. It's a primal basic emotion that needs to be expressed in order for us to live a fully-experienced life. It is very necessary that this emotion, like all the others, be felt and expressed and lived.
Anger and aggression are the basics of life! It is a life-force! Perhaps even the life-force. The word aggression comes from the Latin, agreddi which is formed from ad (towards) and gradi (walk or proceed). Without this emotion of anger and aggression we wouldn't be able to move forward and live like we are supposed to.
It hits me, smack in the face: All my life, I have been suppressing my own positive life-force! Angry is what I am, because I have never really allowed my anger to be expressed in a constructive way.
Is it any wonder that I am therefore depressed and sad and feel like I am only half-alive most of the time?
Is it any wonder that when I do lose control, I do so spectacularly! All that anger just erupts and it is over-powering and it gets really ugly, really fast! This aggression, this overpowering emotion of life just roars out of me because it wants to be seen and expressed and experienced!
Anger can be so beautiful! Anger is what makes us strong and pushes us forward where we would otherwise wither and die. When the world crushes us and tells us we “can't” it is anger that pushes past even our self-invented limits and allows us to be more than we ever thought we could be.
Instead of denying and suppressing our anger, letting it simmer until it reaches boiling point, we should rather embrace it and channel it in a useful way. Anger is not the enemy. Denial of anger is. Denying our own life-force and making ourselves small and keeping invisible - that is the true problem!
Marike Kotze lives in Cape Town, sunny South Africa. She has been writing her own blog for the past eleven years on love, life and everything. She is an ardent animal lover and currently works most-of-the-time for an animal welfare organisation. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking in nature with her children. When it rains, she stays in bed with her four cats. Genre:non-fiction