The Space Around Anger

29 Apr

A Statement of Personal Self-Concept

One thing that I am not always happy to admit is that I have a lot of anger.  This is not to say that I am an angry person.  In the past, I have been an angry person – I allowed my anger to control my vantage of the world and those who inhabit the world.  It was a familiar filter through which every decision, every perception and every relationship would have to pass through.  I was not a happy person, nor was I a  pleasant person to be around.

These days, I try to pass the world through a different filter – one of optimism.  You see, optimism is the space around anger.

Anger is not a primary emotion.  I learned this through acting.  When you are angry it is in response to something else.  Surprise – say, when someone cuts in front of you on the freeway – leads to fear at the possibility of harm, and then anger at the individual that presented the threat of that harm.  The anger is not really at the individual, but rather the aggressive counter to fear.  Fight or Flight.

Frustration is another good instigator for anger.  For me, ignorance and social injustice are mammoth triggers of frustration.  Mostly because the aforementioned evils serve no real purpose other than as camouflage for the further aforementioned fear.  Become a bully before someone else is given an opportunity to bully you.  When faced with ignorance or social injustice I am faced with two options.

Option One:  Make like the Unibomber, wrapped up in isolation and my own sense of superiority and proceed to destroy all those I deem unworthy.Problems – aside from all illegality murderous,  sociopathic, hypocritical and generally not productive or helpful.

Option Two:  CHOOSE to assume that ignorance is not self-imposed and can quite nicely be swept away with knowledge and/or constructive disapproval.  Social Injustice – well, can be solved with a little active justice – don’t you think.  A big rally is not always necessary, a single person saying, that is not acceptable – and then calmly explaining why it is not acceptable, that can work too, AND ANYONE CAN DO IT.  Problems – takes an awful lot of patience and extremely thick skin.

Option One is a choice made within anger.  Option Two, a choice made from the space around anger.   But how do you find the space around anger?  That is the big question, isn’t it?

Think about a fight with a loved one.  JJ can make me so angry that I see the entire color spectrum behind my eyes, I lose any and all ability to string words into a sentence (that is a BAD thing with me) and I lose motor function beyond banging my head (fist/foot) against a wall.  But the thing about it is… I love the man.  As social creatures we always get angriest with those we love the most, but we still love them.  We forgive them because of that love.  With JJ, whenever I am the most angry – and this is a direct result of my time with the Medical Examiners Office – I think of him as no longer there.  I have no choice in this vision, my grief for those lost in war has become the home for my anger.  Whenever I go down that slippery slope of rage, it is here where I settle.  In that moment where I envision JJ as no longer alive in this world, my anger cannot survive – it is after all, a secondary emotion.

My love, my grief at the loss of the man far outweighs any temporary anger I feel toward a situation.  And in an instant all of the anger I was feeling vanished, replaced by an overwhelming gratitude that he is still in my life, alive – pissed beyond all measure – but breathing.

This works with JJ, my mother, my sisters, my friends…. heck… if you think about it,if I want to stay away from the hypocrisy of the Unibomer (isolation, absurd sense of superiority) – it can work for the entire human race.

The space around anger


Posted by on April 29, 2010 in Coffee Shop Whore?, Confessions


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12 responses to “The Space Around Anger

  1. nancycurteman

    May 2, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Anger is a secondary emotion that hides another emotion, usually painful hurt feelings. It’s important to look past anger and react to the primary emotion.

    • Fionna Larcom

      May 3, 2010 at 12:52 PM

      I agree Nancy, although I also think it is important to understand that understanding the primary emotion does not necessarily mean that the anger will go away. I know that the primary emotion behind my anger is grief. I know this, understand this, and I am working my way through the stages of grief, but my anger is kept alive because the grief is alive.

      For the most part I use my anger as a fuel to get keep motivation alive. If I wasn’t ‘angry’ about the limitations in treatment for PTSD patients, I would not have the energy to pursue other avenues of assistance. emotion generates energy – the stronger the emotion, the stronger the energy- it is all in how you use it. You can even use it to heal.

  2. dontmindnomind

    May 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    I appreciate your candid honesty. Its really the first step to understanding yourself. Anger is a funny thing. You are absolutely correct that it is a response to something else. If we break it down it ultimately leads to our frustration as to the seemingly lack of control of circumstances within our lives. This lack of control or fear of lack of control leads to frustration which in the end leads to anger which is a knee jerk response for the desire of control of some sort.

    The one thing we must always realize is that we may not have control over the external circumstances of our lives, but the one thing we will always have control of is our RESPONSE to those circumstances. We always have the power to accept what is, to embrace it, make it our own, and be completely one with Now. And in doing so, we no longer feel the need to exert control over the outside world as we are now a part of it all, an integral part of the fabric of the universal circumstance.

    You may not be able to climb out of the water on the way down the river, but it is your choice to either go down with flailing arms thrashing about trying to swim upstream or you can decide to go down with a peaceful grace, allowing the river to carry you through.

    • Fionna Larcom

      May 2, 2010 at 4:08 PM

      Wonderfully put.

      Some of my ‘worst’ experiences have been the most insightful. I keep peace with myself now, in hard times, because I know that the I will be able to say the same in the future. There is a similar lesson with regret, but that is another post for another day.

      Thank you for your words.

  3. wildhorse33

    May 1, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Thank you for posting on my blog and inviting me to take a look at your work here. I am very interested in what kind of work you do for fiction – your blog is very well-written and though provoking. Taking on the tough topics is commendable and I thoroughly enjoyed the psychological aspects of your posts – am I to understand it is a diversion?

    Envisioning someone you love as gone is really putting anger into perspective.


    • Fionna Larcom

      May 2, 2010 at 4:02 PM

      Thank you so much for your reply, I enjoyed your writing and much looking forward to reading more.

      As for my writing, in truth, it seems that more and more it is the fiction that is the diversion. My stories mostly center around human behavior and potential – even if that potential is unrealized. Each day I have seemingly random conversations, some for five minutes and some for hours. At the end of the night I lay down in the dark and that randomness settles into ordered thought. Ideas from the day intermingle with ideas from last week and last year and for a moment, I find clarity. Then I fall asleep. All I can hope is that I can recapture a piece of that clarity in the morning.

      I can imagine that it may seem a little strange – in an earlier post I mentioned, but did not expand upon, my time working with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s Office during the early campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. I learned a lot from the experience but have found that discussion of such things can be uncomfortable… I’m easing into it.

  4. nrhatch

    May 1, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    To really appreciate what you have, close your eyes and imagine that it is all gone. Everything. Your friends. Your family. Your possessions. You home.

    Now, open your eyes. : )

    • Fionna Larcom

      May 2, 2010 at 3:40 PM

      That reminds me of a promise I made to myself in Dover, to wake up every morning, open my eyes, and be grateful for the day. There have been times that it is hard to keep that promise, but every day is a blessing. Thank you so much for your comment.

  5. Fionna Larcom

    May 1, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    As always, thank you for your support Richard. I feel like I am on a bit of a roll right now, I am hoping to get through this psychology bit in a few more days and get back to my fiction.
    It’s all good though, that was my reason for starting the blog… to have a place to put my tangents while still keeping an eye on my story. This is one notebook that I will have a hard time losing, tearing, spilling coffee all over… to name just a few of my past calamities.
    Hope all is well

  6. tiffany jewellery

    May 1, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    thanks for this great post wow… it’s very


  7. Richard W Scott

    April 30, 2010 at 5:31 AM

    You have some strong stuff here, clearly not decaf.
    I’m envisoning a story about a couple of people of greatly different educational and social skills… It could be very powerful.

    I especially like your method for dealing with anger with your partner.

    Nicely done!

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