Anger is a tricky business. Anger is important to adolescents because it creates distance and a sense of power when they are frustrated by parents. Anger is an important tool when used constructively. Anger is about making room for the differences. When anger is ugly it erases people and the differences. In general, truth is always in between people. Rarely if ever, does one person have a corner on the market. Anger is used to blame someone else and avoid. Anger is used to deflect responsibility. Anger is used to manipulate. Anger can be used abusively. Anger can be used to totally derail truth.
For someone unfamiliar with anger it can be important to learn to establish their voice. Martin Luther King used anger in a peaceful, yet powerful way to address racism. Too many of us are to familiar with anger as a habit.Too many find it too easy to use which comes from an “over inflated sense of self” (as told to Steve Wynn by the Dali Lama revealed in 60 Minutes interview 4/12/09).
Anger is most often a tool to deflect and avoid your own pain. A kid picks on somebody at school because their Mom is an absent alcoholic. They’re unaware that they’re making themselves feel better by making somebody else feel bad. The essence of prejudice is a false superior anger towards the “other” because someone is insecure. We pick people apart in our head because of our own insecurities. Young men are too easily embroiled in anger through the age of 25 because of testosterone highs.
Everybody loves blame. Blame is convenient. Blame is comforting. Blame is all too easy and seldom accurate. The opposite of blame is to examine the complexity of what has happened. It is worth repeating, truth lies in between people.
Both men and women dump their anger out too easily or swallow too much of their anger in silent resentments. Just like sex can make you feel good fast so can anger. Just as lust can lead to bad choices in a partner; adrenaline can lead to bad choices in dumping anger. We treasure the unfair lopsidedness of either the blame and dump or silent resentments that build piles of distance. Too many partners have a habit of unspoken resentments which means the other partner literally does not know who you are. It is your responsibility to define who you are and what you want. The other person not guessing accurately has nothing to do with love.
There are two movies that reveal the two different paths that unhappy couples can pursue. One is a forgotten gem from 1999, Walk On The Moon. Diane Lane plays Pearl a wife who has an affair in the 1960’s and she repairs her marriage with Liev Schreiber. The final scene of the movie is full of grace in their dance on the porch. She dials the radio to his old fashioned music to acknowledge him and he dials it to her hippie music and dances awkwardly and endearingly with her. His dance is tangible evidence that he has learned the hard way about her.
Revolutionary Road (both book & movie) is about the most terrible result when someone allows themselves to be invisible and the fury that builds from unexpressed wants. There is an ugliness to their fighting that happens in many marriages. In the book it is clear both Frank and April Wheeler (played by Winslet & DiCaprio) contribute to their vast misery and they pour alcohol onto the flames of anger. Both are self-indulgent in blaming the other and it’s painful to watch because they don’t solve anything. Watch both these movies because every couple has both options.