Anger is an issue I have had to deal with my whole life. As early as grade school I had outbursts of rage (sometimes sudden and blind) to the point where I did physical damage to property: kicked holes in walls, broke doors (kicked them in), smashed various objects. I spent a lot of allowance money on drywall for a good while. Once, in high school, I threw a chair at a glass door and oddly the chair broke. My intention was to shatter the door. But later I succeeded in the same task just in a different way. Though as I've gotten older, my tendency is to just turn the anger inward. I take the physical out on myself in the form of punching objects I cannot break - walls, doors, furniture - to leave bruises (I have almost broken my hand a number of times) and hitting myself repeatedly in the face to the point I have black eyes. And even occasionally I have cut myself in anger. And to be clear - I am nowhere near proud of this.
For me, anger that comes out towards other people is always verbal. I have never struck another person in anger unless I was struck first. And even then, my striking back has been rare and always in defense. I usually take the hit and just keep screaming or threaten to hit back and that usually shuts the other person down. My anger towards others comes in words...extremely harsh and hateful, straight to the jugular words.
I have learned to control the anger inside me a little better over time and it has dulled some. But it still dwells within me. I still harbor a lot of anger towards my mother for my upbringing. And I currently hold anger towards her for remarks and actions made in the recent past. There is anger towards other family members as well in regards to their shitty reactions to my transition. I am also currently angry with myself for some recent incidents and failures in areas where I was striving for success. And unfortunately, in the last year I have engaged in some of the actions listed above as recently as this past week. I have a bruise on my wrist from hitting my steering wheel and cuts on my left shoulder.
I have been in and out of therapy for the past twelve years. When I was fifteen I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. Within the last few months I went to the ER and then to a crisis stabilization unit for three days to keep myself from having to go inpatient. I have been on 10 different psychiatric medicines on and off in different combinations over this time as well (currently on 3). Though I've never been told I need anger management classes. Never have really, truly, addressed the issues of my anger head on in the context of the anger and not the situation. If that makes any sense.
Looking back, some of my major life decisions have been made out of some form of anger and/or rebellion. Some to my good, some to my detriment. My choice to fail miserably in high school was to spite my mother's overbearing and controlling perfectionism she was bound and determined to force on me (and did since I can remember). My choice to go to the college I went to was to piss off my family (they're all in health care and I went to music school) and to get as far away from my mother as physically possible because being anywhere near her just pissed me off. We were totally unable to coexist in any peaceful or healthy manner. And we still aren't. I have let anger control me in these and other ways.
I have had family members accuse me of harboring massive amounts of anger towards my mother, though they do not and cannot ever know the true extent of the abusive upbringing I had. Or the abuse I endured through college. Or the shit I have gotten from her within the last few months. And I have family members now accusing me of transitioning just to piss them off and fuck with them. They say I am doing it out of spite and because I am just so mad at them. I want to fuck with them. Because I'm angry. And if I could only let go of the anger I wouldn't have to change.
The truth is my choice and need to transition has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with anger towards anyone. Though I am angry at my lot in life. Angry that I was born into a body that I have never been able to like, let alone fully accept and that doesn't reflect the individual I am inside (though I'm getting closer). But I have accepted that I am who I am. And now that I have done that and taken steps towards seeking medical assistance in correcting the physical issues, that anger is fading and I can honestly say that I am happier with myself more than I have ever been. Though it is nowhere near an easy process, I have hope.
I would say my biggest issue with anger is that I have often unknowingly bottled it up for too long. I think I've let it go, but I really haven't. And then it just explodes. And the things I am not proud of happen. I become destructive. Thankfully these episodes have become fewer and farther apart, but they are still happening and they need to be addressed. I don't bottle it up for too long now so much as I just explode. And this is NOT a good thing.
Anger is an extremely powerful emotion and one that needs to be handled appropriately or it can be devastatingly dangerous and even fatal. I have seen people do and say some unspeakably horrid things out of anger. I have seen people crumble physically and emotionally in the grip of anger. And I too have said and done things out of anger that I wish to god every day I could take back. The seed becomes planted and it is so tempting to let it grow. To nurture it. Because, damn it all, you have a right to be angry. And it can feel good. It can feel powerful. But it isn't healthy.
I have come to realize that anger is a mask. A wall to hide other underlying emotions like fear, hurt, guilt, shame, despair, etc. And that expressing anger in such ways as I've listed above just solidifies and reaffirms the anger and often encourages it to escalate. And because of the short term high anger can offer, it can become addictive. I have experienced this myself.
I have figured that if I stay angry, I won't have to deal with what is causing the anger. Won't have to deal with the REAL issue. I figure if I punch a wall I can let the anger out. And it feels good. It makes the anger visible. I can see the bruises and watch them heal. But the anger that caused the bruises often still remains under the surface masking the issues that got me angry in the first place.
I have decided that now is the time to address the anger itself and how I handle it. To address the issues causing the anger instead of just being angry. To tackle some tough ass stuff one piece at a time so I can stop the cycle of unhealthy, destructive behavior. So I can let some of it go. Because I haven't been able to do so to this point. And one of my steps is to call in the morning and make a therapy appointment so I can get the ball rolling. I've addressed some of the issues but not nearly all of them and definitely not to the extent that they need to be addressed. I am tired of letting anger get the better of me. Tired of the physical and emotional distress it causes. Tired of looking at the bruises and scars. It's time to take off the mask and really look at what is underneath.