The role of anger in my life is an interesting, yet painful, subject for review. Perhaps skipping the maturation process from youth to adult because of my early addiction is one reason. Perhaps my experience with addiction itself is another. For whatever reason, my anger and temper was often explosive and all consuming. Some of the consequences of that anger remain with me today, relieved by the daily practice of acceptance and a willingness to seek forgiveness. In the past, unresolved issues of anger seemed to lurk and bubble just under the surface, often emerging suddenly and excessively. For many years it was like that. My relationships with people close to me suffered from my inability to express anger in a healthy way. I would withhold and repress my feelings. They would grow and seethe within me until exploding all at once. In recovery I’ve learned that pain, fear, anger, and resentment are often all linked together like the layers of an onion.
I can never escape the pain of life, but I can learn how to express my fear and anger in a healthy way that prevents it from settling into a resentment that resides inside my mind and soul—poisoning my life.
When experiencing anger, I have the choice to do the real work to find a resolution, or instead hold onto it, harbor it, nurture it and suffer it. Learning how to express and discuss my feelings of anger, instead of basking in my own self-inflicted misery, increases my ability to have compassion and empathy for those I am angry with.
The process has shown me how suffering is not a valid way of showing I care—it is more of a mysterious form of addiction.
It is a great reminder of the truth I know today, that I am a grown up and not a child, and no one else “makes me” feel a certain way. I chose my response to life—no one else does, ever.
(An excerpt from the book A Year of Days)