Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fury-less: Part One

I've thought of myself as having an anger problem for quite some time.  I get angry, easily, and don't express it in a healthy way.  That's an anger problem, right?  Well, what better way to find some healing answers than to read?  I began reading Koren Zailckas' memoir, Fury, a couple days ago.  Let me tell you, she reveals some very funny, off-the-wall, honest thoughts and moments, which makes her book not only educational but leads you to some inner soul searching with a light-hearted twist.

I immediately liked the book, but soon became disappointed.  I was expecting to open the book and read about my twin separated at birth.  Koren and I were supposed to come from the same family dysfunction.  Her anger issues were supposed to be the yin to my yang.  The more I read, though, the more similarities I saw between my experience with Fury and Mary Karr's Lit.  The why's and how's and when's are different for me and the author, but the source of the pain and its debilitating nature are far too alike.
"A bad girl has never been born," wrote Virginia Satir, the famed family therapist.  "Only persons with potentials are born.  Something in that human being has to be denied, projected, ignored or distorted for her to become some kind of bad, sick, stupid or crazy girl or woman. (pg.3)"
When I read the words of a world-renowned expert in black and white right in front of my face, words that tell me my brokenness and the difficulties I am trying so hard to overcome are products of situations and not my soul, I feel relieved of the heaviness that tells me I cannot progress.  Alternately, saying I've been "denied, projected, ignored or distorted" feels like I'm making excuses for my actions.
I couldn't connect with humanity until I stopped fighting my own (pg. 4).  
I am afraid to open up to people, to make friends, heck, to even make conversation.  My voice begins to quiver if I talk for too long.  Eye contact causes me to squint and cower my head.  I am ashamed.
The facts of my life still seemed largely beyond my control.  I felt steered (or rather, flung) through the world not by intention or foresight, but by some uncontrollable force (pg. 9).
Since the Big Bad Beach Breakup, I feel less like my life is beyond my control.  This isn't to say that I never find myself asking WTF, such as last week when everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  But after I moved back from the coast, after I had hit rock bottom once again because of choices I made, that was kind of the end for the "me" as I knew it.  I finally realized life is more difficult when you are neither here nor there (doesn't Dr. Seuss say this?).  Making calculated decisions, planning ahead, fighting the urge to run, facing problems head on, as crazy as it seems, is much, much easier.
In the heat of conflict, my family takes ample "breaks" but rarely returns to address the beef directly.  Our version of "cooling off" is best summed up by my sister, who prefers to "deal with" anger "alone."  Per protocol, we ignore each other for the rest of the day and never refer to the god-awful mess (pg. 11).
When I read this passage, I thought of a couple different things.  First, my mother.  Now, I don't know if Zailckas' family didn't react bat shit crazy before "cooling off" or if no one just ever did.  Because, that is certainly not my experience.  My mother would go crazy, absolute crazy, over the most minor of offenses.  The idea of "cooling off" before reacting sounds like heaven to me.  She would scream, curse and say the meanest things like how she was looking forward to the day I was 18 so she could finally do what she wants with her life, as if squeezing each of her children from her vajay was out of her control.  I would be grounded "for life" and she would rip the phone out of my bedroom wall and almost broke her back a few times dragging my television out of my room.

I didn't deserve luxuries. I didn't deserve dinner either.  She would cook and laugh with my sisters while I sat in silence in my bedroom.  I would wait for her permission to come tell me I could eat (this happened up until I moved out of the house at 18).  Her permission never came.  Sometimes bed time would come and I would just go to sleep, afraid what might happen if I went into the kitchen to make something to eat.  Sometimes she would put all of the food away and then come tell me I could come eat if I wanted to.  How embarrassed and ashamed I was pulling out the Tupperware containers, reheating the food and eating by myself with my head down.  It just depended on her mood as to what kind of careless, immature bitch she decided to be.

Now I think of my actions when I am angry (with my boyfriend because that's the only time I ever express it) and I'm more like Zailckas' family.  I am passive aggressive until the point I'm asked what's the matter, and then I freeze up.  I'm exactly like Koren's sister - I want to deal with my anger alone.  It would have been a death sentence had I expressed any emotions growing up, so why would it be anything different now?  I cannot put into words how I am feeling.  I cannot express my anger or frustration or whatever without screaming like my mother.  So I sit in my bedroom like I did as a child, praying the "god-awful mess" will just blow away before dinner time.
Maybe I'm repressing anger by indulging guilt in its place.  Or maybe I'm simply more comfortable with guilt than I am with rage (pg 13).
With every book I read on conditions such as this, I feel less guilty and ashamed about my life.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that "less" is a very open-ended word.  On a scale from 1 to 1000, I go from a guilt level of 900 to a guilt level of 899.  I am slowly becoming more comfortable being angry with my mother than feeling guilty for her actions.  For me, it's easier to take the blame and hold the guilt than it is to look at someone and say with conviction, "You are at fault."

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