Long ago I realized each person deals with anger differently. While I may revert into myself tears welling up, words running from my hands with pen and paper or through this precious keyboard- not everyone deals with “BIG feelings” in the same manner. While I am certainly not the most composed angry person (I cry, a lot), yelling is generally not a communication method I resort to. More often than not, when someone is angry and yelling I cannot help but to cry, especially if that anger is directed at me.
I’ve been yelled at a fair share in my lifetime. I think that being yelled at is a pretty typical experience, but to be honest, I’m not really sure because it is not an experience we choose to talk about often. When someone I love yells at me it isn’t something I want to share. In addition to feeling ashamed, hurt and occasionally even guilty…I feel protective. I know that even good people get worked up in a state of anger. Good people sometimes yell.
My biggest problem with anger isn’t directly tied to yelling though (no matter how much I hate it). What bothers me most are the ruthlessly mean insults an angry person may toss like knives usually yelling, sometimes not. It is the words of anger not the tonal inflection that I have the hardest time coming back from.
To maintain the level of composure that allows you to restrain from saying the meanest, maddest, most hurtful thing you can think of is a a pride-worthy trait. A great number of adults maintain the childish habit of releasing the most hurtful words simply because they are upset. Words can be a very big deal; there are insults that cut us so deep that the wounds take months to heal, these wounds can leave scars for eternity.
I can think of a handful of insults that have stuck with me long after an argument. Words of anger have left me bruised and tender. Ahem, DJ cue Taylor Swift’s “Mean” now please. There isn’t one way to react to “fighting words”. Some people react back, like gasoline mixed with fire, other people shut down, I fall into the latter description. Saying I’m sensitive would be the understatement of the year. I can’t handle yelling it out. I cannot handle the sinking feeling of betrayal that follows a friend or loved one’s stabbing words. The dark stain of hurt that lingers on the relationship for months makes me feel insecure and I can’t help but question everything.
I consulted a therapist about these angry words recently. I wanted to know why some individuals are more okay with saying mean words to loved ones and apologizing for them later and why others (myself included) have such a hard time moving on from a scarring insult. I’ve had a difficult time coming to terms with the idea that someone could say something mean to me in the heat of an argument or under a great deal of stress and then apologetically take back the statements a day or two later. Where do those mean words come from? If they aren’t truthful and heartfelt how does the perpetrator come up with the insult to begin with?
It turns out the myth that our angry selves spew deeply rooted words of truth is just that…a myth. My therapist suggested that most angry people are fairly nonsensical and these angry statements even if rooted in truth are greatly exaggerated. Just as an angsty teenager may scream “I hate you” to her parents, your adult boyfriend or mother or sister or bestie is likely to exaggerate his or her anger too.
I’ll probably always be the girl that cries when someone is mean to her. I don’t have thick skin and I can’t imagine ever being okay with the end of a friendship, an argument with my boyfriend or a mean comment from a family member. Somehow knowing that words of anger don’t reflect an individual’s true feelings helps the pain of an argument feel a little less debilitating.