Hello, my name is Melissa and I'm an anger-holic.
I've been angry at one thing or another for so long that it has become a part of me. Those roots run deep ya'll, like Grand Canyon deep. Every time I think that I've turned a new leaf and finally let the anger go, it rears it's ugly head again and another person becomes one of my victims, just lying in the street like we are in the wild west and just had a gun duel.
My anger isn't really expressed through yelling or becoming physically aggressive (unless you are a really close family member who refuses to put on their shoes and get in the car despite the fact I have told you 127 times), no my anger is much too cold, calculated and premeditated for that nonsense. My weapon of choice, the one I have perfected and crafted over the years, is words. I can flat rip someone to shreds with my words. On the surface I appear calm, cool and collected but really I'm just finding my "opponent's" weak spot and digging in with all my might. When I'm angry my ultimate goal is to make someone else feel as bad as I do...and most of the time I do just that. In the past this has been a source of pride for me, because I felt superior for being able to win a "word war." Isn't that just disgusting? I mean the fact that I have enjoyed making someone feel shamed, embarrassed, sad, less than, and hurt by my words seriously makes me want to puke.
Over the last few days I have seen firsthand what my angry words can do to a close relationship. Sometimes you can fracture someone or something so much that the only way it can be whole again is through God's supernatural power. I have officially done enough damage so I've decided to become an alligator.
Did you know that alligators do not have the same strength when opening and shutting their mouths? Apparently it has become common knowledge that an alligator's jaws are all geared towards chomping down. The muscles that open the jaw are relatively weak and can easily be held closed. That's totally what I need, for the muscles that cause me to open my mouth and use hurtful words to be weakened and for someone to help me keep my mouth shut because I can do a lot of damage with that thing. Somewhere my husband is probably waving his hand energetically and volunteering to be the "someone" that can help.
James 1:19 says, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
Sometimes the best advice is the old stuff that's been around for years. I love the adage, "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all." There are exceptions to this of course, but that's a pretty good place to start.
But what about the anger? Obviously, I can't ignore it or it will just keep building up and one day while I'm driving down HWY 80 my car is just going to explode like fireworks on the 4th of July. I've been thinking about this for a while and I have begun to think about the reason behind my anger, not the situational circumstances or events that lead to angry outbursts, but the real reason I turn to anger so quickly as my first response. And I'm pretty sure it's because I feel vulnerable. I hate being vulnerable, exposed or hurt. So instead of owning my feelings I immediately disguise them as anger and do what has worked for me for years and get angry, retaliate and then I have immediate relief from the feelings I so desperately hate. Aren't our psychological protective mechanisms amazing? I'm in awe of how I have been doing this forever and I never really rationally made this plan of action.
In order to break this cycle, I'm going to do the following:
1) Take a deep breath when I start to feel angry (there is a whole slew of research behind why this works but I'm totally not going to bore you with the details)
2) Tell someone I feel vulnerable, hurt, anxious, etc.
That. Scares. The. Crap. Out. Of. Me. But I would rather be scared than filled with regret. I bet alligators don't experience fear or regret, they are just hungry and want to eat. Hmmm, maybe I do have something in common with them after all...