Musings on Anger.
If you were to ask me if I’m angry — about anything — I would generally say no. I’m not an angry person; I don’t get angry.
But actually, now I am angry.
A while back I read a “self help” book where it said you should get angry, and I thought “well no, I’m not angry and I don’t think anger serves a purpose…”
And then I had emergency surgery, and while my friends rallied round to help out in ways I never could have expected, my sister (who works nights and is only 22) was the only member of my family who was there for me. My mother did not even call me until 6 days after my operation, and even then she spent most of the conversation making it about herself: my op must have been keyhole, for me to have recovered so quickly (it wasn’t); she’d been waiting 17 weeks for her operation, but then hers was a much more serious and important operation requiring 3 surgeons. She didn’t even ask where my child was. She said she would visit the next day with some gluten free treats; she did not arrive. Instead she arrived unannounced the following day, and tried to let herself into my house. When she realised the door didn’t open from the outside, she rang the doorbell and banged the letterbox until I opened it. I was working and told her she couldn’t come in. I’ve not heard from her since and honestly don’t expect to – until she has had her oh-so-important operation, and wants me to lavish her with flowers and attention. She’ll be waiting a while – at least 6 days, I think.
As well as this, there was a situation with a man (we will call him K, for that is not his name). He asked me out in July; I told him he would have to wait until the summer holidays. He did wait; we went out and it went really well. This was the first date I had been on in four and a half years. When I left, he texted me within an hour to say he had really enjoyed himself and could he take me out to lunch soon. I saw him again; we talked a lot; it was nice. We got on really well. Much better than I had expected. But then he went AWOL. For the next few weeks he kept in contact just enough to keep me from shutting the whole thing down. He consistently reassured me that he liked me; he wanted to see me; he couldn’t wait to take me out here there and everywhere… but I never actually saw him. When I came out of hospital he visited; I don’t really remember much of what was said because I was off my head on pain killers. I do remember kissing him. I remember him talking a lot about taking things slowly, and wanting to meet S, and about how much he wanted to take me out on all these dates. And then he left, quite suddenly. And then I freaked out. I didn’t hear from him for several days afterwards, and have not seen him since.
Bear in mind here that the last person who saw me naked had me utterly convinced that I was so disgusting, I needed him to scrub me with antibacterial Fairy Liquid in the bath every day. I thought I was over all of that, but actually I had just never tested that side of my recovery. It turns out I chose the wrong person to test this with.
Eventually, this week he sent a WhatsApp message to say he was very sorry; he wasn’t ready for a relationship. He thought I was amazing; he didn’t want me to hate him; he couldn’t do it; he was sorry. I wasn’t as gutted as I would have expected – probably because it had been three weeks coming. I replied saying I would love to be friends with him – after all, we had got on when we had spent time together. I suggested we meet for a brief chat and clear the air so that we could put all of this behind us and just get on with being friends. I genuinely meant it and valued him as a friend. He ignored me. So clearly when he said he wanted to be friends what he really meant was that he wanted me to be his Facebook friend and he just didn’t want me to yell at him.
So yes, right now I am angry.
I am angry that my own mother doesn’t think I’m important enough to call after I’ve had emergency surgery and almost died. They told me before I went into surgery that if they didn’t do it I might die, and then I stopped breathing in recovery. My death became a very real possibility to me, and the one person upon whom most people would have called in such a situation – my own mother – was nowhere to be seen or heard from. Not a word, for six days. She doesn’t even have a job; it’s not like there was something more pressing taking up her attention.
And I’m angry that someone would wait all summer, just for a chance to mess me about for a month. What did I ever do to make this person think it was ok to treat me like that? Well, I put up with it the first time he cancelled on me at short notice. I should have shut it down right then, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and he took full advantage of that. I can understand not wanting to call because you’re worried someone will shout at you… when you’re ten years old. This man is 37. I made myself vulnerable for the first time in five years, and this is what happened. I was taken for a mug. By someone who spent quite a lot of time lambasting a couple of our mutual friends for the way they had treated women in the past. He got visibly angry at the way S’s father had treated me. And then he waited until I was dealing with the most traumatic period in my life since becoming a mother to mess me about. Well played.
Of course, this time around it’s my own fault. While one could be forgiven for hoping their mother might come through for them in their hour of need, some random bloke who has already proved himself to be something of a flake? That’s my own fault. And so as well as being angry with him, I am angry with myself. Because I should have just walked away weeks ago. I should never have put myself in a position where I was off my head on morphine and couldn’t remember what I’d said to some random bloke who didn’t even think enough of me to call me.
That “self help” book I was reading suggested that anger was a good thing. I think the idea is that people who say they don’t get angry are actually just afraid of anger. Afraid to express anger in case it causes relationships to break down and people to leave. So it’s more healthy for us to admit to and feel anger. Since reading this, I’ve realised it’s probably a fair assessment of the situation. In my head, one argument equals them leaving and my never seeing them again. So I rarely argue. It’s not healthy.
The problem is that now I seem to have opened a flood gate and I am angry. Which is healhy and all that jazz… but also somewhat inconvenient and also probably inappropriate. Perhaps I should go back and find the book; see if there’s some sort of advice about how to not be angry once you’ve started!
I wrote a follow-up to this blog, which you can read here.
I’m so sorry about your family. No matter how much you try to rationalise it, it really hurts and sucks. It’s definitely OK to be angry. The bloke sounds like a bit of a d*** There’s plenty of ways to say “I’m not interested” that don’t take months and months. People need to man up - it causes less hurt. I find it really hard to get angry. After lots of practise, I can now bicker with my husband without panicking, but I still hate it. We have never argued because the outburst of anger upsets me so much. We talk openly and honestly and are able to be frank with each other - just not with anger. I should probably do something about that ...
Anger terrifies me, but I've really only just realised that. I mean, I knew that any time anyone shouted, whether directed at me or not, it made me cry - but I never realised I was afraid of my own anger. I think for women it's not a "ladylike" thing to be angry but also there have been times in my life - during childhood and since - where I have not been allowed to express feelings of any kind. I remember when I had my nervous breakdown it was the first time I'd actually cried in several years.
Wow. That is a lot to deal with and yes you should feel angry. Shame on your mum. I never understand how mothers can be so cruel to their kids even grown up ones. And I am new to your blog so... let's back up.... He had you scrub with washing up liquid???!!!! Did he have germphobic issues or just cruel?