Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Thank You for the Anger, God!

I'll be the first to admit that I have a temper once I'm pushed beyond my limits. I think we all have that limit where we endure all we can before we're pushed beyond our limit and become prone to feeling anger over whatever it is that provokes the emotion. However, I sometimes feel like when I get angry, I get really angry. Like, "ooh, child, you best watch yourself and walk away" angry. It doesn't happen often but, when it does, it can surprise even some of my oldest friends.

I feel things very deeply. The good, the bad... homegirl is sensitive to it all. lol. Hi, I'm an HSP and an INFP; it's ingrained in me. I know many of my friends were surprised to see me being so steady and not breaking down after my father died but that was because I internalized everything when people were around. I broke down when no one was watching. I tend to do that. I might've presented a strong front, especially when my mother completely broke down at the funeral, but that was because I was being outwardly strong for others. Inwardly? I was a wreck. I then became numb to all feeling for about a year because it was my way of keeping myself from breaking down completely and having others worry about me.

If I see someone hurting, my heart breaks. I will immediately tear up and this instinct to do whatever I can to help alleviate their suffering kicks in. It can be a mother asking for money outside of groceries stores. It can be seeing the destruction following a natural disaster. What hurts me most is when people lose what's most important to them -- their loved ones, their homes, their livelihood.

On the flip side, if I see someone happy, I burst with happiness for them. I cry at weddings with the biggest smile on my face. When one of my friends expresses their joy over something, I feel it too. Engagements, marriages, babies, job promotions, accomplishments, if you are happy, my heart is full and it feels as if these things were happening to me.

I've always had people trying to stop me from (by making me feel ashamed of) being emotionally expressive. Up to a point, I can see why. Some people do try to take advantage of those who feel strongly by means of emotional manipulation. I've been a victim of this more times than I care to admit. I am getting better at distinguishing when someone is using emotional manipulation. Of course, when I realize this, I become angry because it's a terrible thing to do. I don't understand why people do it.

And that brings us to the emotion of anger and the topic of this post. I feel this emotion deeply as well. Injustice makes me angry. Lies and manipulation make me angry. Abuse of any kind makes me angry. If I see someone being bullied, attacked, or anything of the sort, I get very upset. I used to confess this (often) because I used to think that getting angry was a sin. It became a source of scrupulosity for me. It wasn't until someone explained that feeling angry is natural and not a sin but that acting upon that emotion can become sinful that I stopped being so scrupulous. It's gotten better and I don't confess it unless something uncharitable escapes my lips or I act upon my anger (e.g. icy glares) but I still don't like how angry I can get sometimes. It's not a nice emotion. I don't like things that aren't nice. Sue me.

I have some consolations about this terrible anger I feel sometimes. Jesus got angry and cleansed the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). (side note: if you've ever wondered why I say "flippin'" when I'm upset about something, it's from this -- from Jesus flipping some tables in righteous anger). St. Jerome, who felt anger ardently, is the patron saint against anger for a reason yet he did great things for the Church. St. Teresa of Avila, who was also known to suffer from fits of anger, helped co-found the Discalced Carmelites (along with St. John of the Cross) because she had had enough of seeing the corruption within the Carmelite order. Through these (and many more examples), I've come to realize that I can use this particular negative emotion for good.

I believe that if we feel things deeply and don't get carried away by the emotions we can do a lot of good. The anger can be channeled to do something positive. The same with the sadness and (more easily) the joy. If we can keep this in mind, why are we still shamed into repressing them? A big reason why I developed anxiety in my mid-teens was because I bottled up most of my emotions. Any of you wondering why I haven't had regular panic attacks like I used to? It's because I've no longer bottled up my emotions, good or bad.

That's not to say that I've got it down pat. Sometimes, I can explode -- with anger or joy. Let's be honest, as human beings, we all do. I can usually keep things in perspective but when you add outside factors like lack of sleep, hunger, and other things, it's not as easy. However, it's not impossible.

I recently faced a lifelong problem with anger towards a certain family member. I prayed novenas about it and I sought the advice from trusted friends. God allowed me to understand that what this family member was doing to cause the (righteous yet still unpleasant) anger in me was being done unconsciously and that it was a result of some deep emotional scars within this person; none of it had anything to do with me. I exploded (in a quiet, controlled way) yet calmed down enough to sit down and talk to this person. 2 hours (and many tissues) later, we seemed to have sorted through things. I pray that God continues to help us keep our differences and outside influences in mind so that we can continue to repair the relationship but I know it's going to be somewhat of an uphill battle because it was decades of bad habits to undo.

Despite that drama (and I hate drama), I'm thankful to God for allowing me to have those moments where my temper exploded and I was able to look at things as a whole because it comes with the hope of a better relationship with the person. I still have to work on occasionally losing my cool when driving (L.A. drivers are notoriously rude) but I've seen the good God can do through the bad so I'm feeling optimistic about learning how to better control my temper overall.

How about you? Do any of you have a strong temper/temperament that you need to work on? Have you thought about asking God for help in learning to better manage and control that temper? Remember that you can always call of St. Jerome and/or St. Teresa of Avila whenever you're feeling particularly uncharitable in a heat-filled moment. :)

Well, that's it for now. I actually wrote this post days ago but I got sick again (stomach this time; the start of 2018 has not been particularly kind to me), I had work to do (which I will hopefully share soon), and then we had our apartment blessed for the Epiphany so I've been either sleeping, working, or cleaning up. Oh, 2018, you're a pip! lol.

I hope you're all having a lovely start to the week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


Catherine Hawthorn said...


I've always ALWAYS had a very strong will and a temper to match. Bottling? OH YEAH. Still do.

I still remember scaring the life out of both my roommates when I exploded in front of them because they had been fighting for a while and I had reached my emotional limit.

It's ridiculously hard for me to disconnect from other people's emotions, I'm like an emotional sponge. Not a lot of people, even some of my family members, can understand that it seems.

I still have problems when a memory of an insult or a sharp word (whether to me or someone else) will start an adrenaline rush, a feeling of being attacked.

I too have had some family issues, especially on my dad's side. I don't get along with either my paternal grandfather or my paternal aunt very well because of old and new emotional manipulation scars. Which makes me upset too. Please pray for them!

I should look up St. Jerome. He sounds like a Saint I need to have intercede for me.

God bless you Emmy! Thank you for sharing this post!!


Emmy Cecilia said...

You're definitely not the only one, Catherine! I think people tend to present only their good sides and rarely talk about anger and tempers that it gives us the impression that we're the only ones who deal with it. I think it's more common than anyone cares to admit.

Like you, I'm an emotional sponge. What they feel, I feel -- good and bad.

I will definitely pray for your family members. I know all too well what it's like to have to tip toe around emotionally fragile people and what a toll that can take on us.

St. Jerome is an interesting saint to learn about. I hope he intercedes for you in heated moments.

God bless you, too!