Resolution. Closure. Inner peace. Finality. Personal growth.
For those of us on the quest for self-improvement, this quote zings and challenges us hard…
“Learn to be done, not mad, just done.”
Deep end of the emotional work pool.
How many of us struggle with being angry?
And anger is legitimate. It’s allowed, despite the toxic messages we receive that it isn’t.
But to stay stuck in anger?
Well, that’s another thing.
But the work involved, getting us from seething anger to healthier integration of it, varying with timetables, experiences, and individual life and healing processes unfolding can be treacherous.
It’s not the quick fix.
Whenever I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of simply being done, not destructively angry, I am reminded of another encouraging quote that can help put things in perspective…
“I am still learning.”
It is a process. We hear that, and we roll our eyes at that sentiment.
But it’s true.
Feelings, however, often discourage us.
First, there’s the hot rage/angry revenge of our situation.
It can seem that we are only stuck in our pain-driven, white-hot rage angry emotions.
There is no negotiating with terrorists… or desperate inner children, deeply wounded, running amuck.
That’s where a lot of us find ourselves, for years, decades, and even for large chunks of our lives.
We are enraged by the injustice of what happened to us and who did it to us.
Furthermore, many of us have been raised and trained in such conditions and systems to believe that anger is forbidden. We are instructed and threatened to only please, serve, lie about circumstances, and to plaster over-the-top clown smiles on our faces. The message, often not uttered, only implied through some pressure or coercion, directs us to only say the following…
“I’m good. I’m happy. Everything’s fine here. There’s nothing wrong with me, or with what I’m going through.”
And that breeds resentment, contempt, rage, powerlessness, and fear.
We feel trapped. And the trapped feeling is largely fed with rage, defiance, and revenge fantasies, if not actual tactics.
Ruminating about “getting back” at someone for abusing us?
Yep, that’s there.
Feeling muzzled, invalidated, and isolated because “everyone else” is against us, only supporting the abusive party?
Yep, that contributes to our daily obsessions of feeling misery, disempowerment, and hopelessness. And that fuels the rage of being additionally punished for the realities of our experiences. With a lack of a support system, we are sent the message: “There is only one truth here, and it’s theirs, not yours.”
So, that’s a great baseline we start out from.
And that baseline, which is distorted, by the way, can work to convince us that this reality is the final, end-all, be-all situation for us, with no hope whatsoever of any positive change for us.
“I am still learning.”
Anger can be a necessary first stop for us as we face such abuses and injustices that threaten to cripple us. Anger is a human emotion. We are entitled to feel it.
Expressing it is a trickier reality. Murder can be an expression of anger. Committing a felony is not the best exercise in addressing the rage we feel.
But so many of us don’t even know, let alone, give ourselves permission to accept the reality of our anger. Maybe we’re the “good girl.” Maybe we’re “the fixer.” Maybe we’re “the scapegoat.”
Roles and expectations such as these typically emphasis our self-sacrifice for another’s benefit.
Concerning the challenging anger issue, all of it is a learning curve.
What do we know about anger?
What do we know about our expression of anger?
What’s expected of us when we are angry?
What do we feel will happen if we are angry, feel it, and act upon it?
Probing the answers to these questions can lead us to another step in the anger process.
It’s an ugly, messy process.
And that speaks to the imperfect, ongoing nature of our feelings, our behaviors, and our choices regarding the anger-provoking circumstances we face.
Unrealistic expectations can make us believe that we need to perfectly, quickly, and, once and for all, resolve any anger issues.
It does not work like that.
“I am still learning.”
Instead, there is a process of time and timing. Healing is not linear, nor tidy. Healing is not simple and painless. It often requires excavation of trauma, and accessing memories we’d rather suppress and deny.
That can mean that we freak out. We can act erratically. We can behave in ways we are not proud of. Pick your unflattering moment, a moment that captures, “Yes, I am struggling here.”
The struggle is often filled with education.
We learn by failure, heartbreak, humiliation, and perhaps, by long-dormant weaknesses that suddenly and obviously erupt that are devastating.
Yep. That was there. That’s an issue. That shows the momentary embodiment of who we were in that situation.
We learn. We are different coming out of that unflattering moment than we were going in.
And it is all a part of the learning process.
We can learn, for the first time, exactly what a certain person, relationship, and incident truly was for us, rather than what we have convinced ourselves was the story.
We can be completely unaware of something that happened to us, involved us, or affected us. That is a level of trauma we need to navigate as we learn its reality for us.
That’s a freeing sometimes, revelatory sometimes, overwhelming sometimes, and usually, a life/identity-changing education. It happens over time, often decades after the fact.
But it comes to us at the right time.
If we were exposed to it, as a toddler or a teenager, rather than the adult we are now, in such circumstances as therapy and conversations with family members, sharing their experiences and insights, we couldn’t handle it.
If we discover some newer, more difficult, and painful things now, it often occurs because now, at this stage in our lives, we can cope with, confront, and even change our behavior concerning it.
That comes from embracing the ongoing learning of situations, including those, riddled with anger. It’s natural. It is part of it.
A done destination?
Ongoing. That’s the word of the day.
A wise friend of mine once uttered, “Nothing is forever.”
When she said that, I felt a pressure-lifting relief.
I’m not getting into the great unknown, matters of eternity, and spirituality.
Her statement was emphasizing the ongoing, the temporary, the transitioning, the reality that we aren’t finished yet. We are not done becoming who we are.
If there is breath in a person’s body, there’s ongoing change going on.
We age. We develop. We experience shifts in thinking, in relating, in approaching the circumstances of our lives.
That can apply to an angry state. We can learn and change concerning our anger.
That is fluid, not static. Energy, and anger IS energy, needs to move.
It will move.
And that brings us to another move and change. It can get us to a different place, one closer to “done.”
But it can surprise us what that word entails.
Mad…and scared… and sad.
No happy closure; it’s pain.
And it’s sad.
Years ago, I heard that a definition of anger is any combination of fear, frustration, and hurt. One or more may be dominant, but the “anger” feeling is more complex. It’s driven by those three.
And the last of those three, hurt, speaks to the woundedness, which, yes, is sad.
There’s loss, grief, a sense of profound hurt, unmet need, and loneliness.
“Mad” permeates with being both “scared” and “sad.”
It is the woundedness that impacts our pain, our frustration, our fear. That’s overwhelming.
Popping off with the easier and more accessible cartoon Yosemite Sam rage is clearcut and simple.
To paraphrase the film, “Network…”
“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
But the fear, the frustration, and the sad hurt of anger?
That’s the stuff that keeps us running from the whole thing. We hide in addictions, compulsions, and distractions of all kinds.
“I am still learning.”
Recovery, trauma therapy, and making the important decision to face what is, the truth, put us on the path of learning.
It’s a sharp path, cutting us, causing pain, making us uncomfortable.
But it’s a necessary education, one with its own brand of healing and relief.
What can be “Just done?”
It’s individual and personal. It’s a snowflake.
Each of us have that moment in which a sense of “done,” for the time being (because “done” is an ongoing reality), crystallizes for us. We are not simply in a hot rage state. Other emotions and components of our issues and circumstances begin coming into play.
Patience, as cliché as it sounds, is a must.
But we inch closer to “just done,” in stages, at different points of our lives.
We need to keep inching. We’re getting there.
Copyright © 2023 by Sheryle Cruse