One of my favorite parts of the movie The Avengers is right before the climactic battle scene that levels New York. Our heroes gather, including Dr. Bruce Banner. Captain America urges Dr. Banner to get angry for the battle. In other words, turn into the Hulk and start kicking ass. Banner, replies in his very cool way “That’s my secret… I’m always angry”.
You know what? You should just watch it.
Awesome, right? Here’s the thing, I totally identify with that. My older siblings and I have had this conversation. All of us identify with the feeling of always being angry, but I think people are more surprised to hear that coming from me. My brother is big and loud. I’m small and quiet. That he would be angry seems in character. People would not think to characterize me as angry. My sister has been through a lot. She has every right to be angry.
But there you have it. I’m always angry. Sometimes I can’t even identify a focus for my anger. I’m angry at my father for not being there. I’m angry at my stepfather… for being there. I’m angry at my mother. We’re talking through that and I love her very much. I’m angry at my ex. She’ll be angry with me for mentioning her again. I’m angry at that. I’m angry at all of the people who never gave me a chance, either in relationships or professionally. I’m angry at all of the people who I’ve felt have abandoned me or quit on me. I’m angry at all of the people who have dismissed me because of the color of my skin. Or because of what I didn’t have in my bank account. I’m angry at the people around me who don’t recognize their privilege. I’m angry at injustice. I’m angry at violence. I’m angry at terrorists who think that their religion or race make them superior. I’m angry at the fearful response that say that we fight fire with fire. I’m angry that we continue to support the lie that some people deserve to be obscenely wealthy while others can’t afford the basics of life. I’m angry at all of the ways that humans dehumanize each other.
And yet, gentle readers, your humble narrator would be remiss if he did not admit that he is most angry at himself. For those things that I find deficient in others I find in abundance in myself. I’m angry at the ways that I have failed people. I am angry at the ways that I dehumanize people. I am angry for all of the ways that I came up short. I am angry for all of the times that I quit instead of trying harder. I am angry at all of my defects and imperfections. I am angry that I am struggling with many of the same things with which I struggled a decade ago. I’m angry that I have yet to be perfected.
And this, friends is the root of my self loathing. I have a deep desire to be good… or at least better. In many ways I see the same broken and confused person that I have been for years. In some ways, I have taken steps backwards. I have a hard time seeing the places where I’ve progressed.
My anger at myself has at times turned me into a monster, lashing out with intent to destroy. At other times it has turned me into a robot, cold and unfeeling. And still other times it has turned me into a turtle, hiding in his shell. Depression, I keep being told, is anger turned inwards. I’m starting to believe it.
I think one of the reasons the movie “Frozen” has resonated with so many people is that we can identify with Elsa. We feel like we have been constrained and if we could just unleash all of the things buried inside of us then we would be free. But the truth is that when we “let it go” it has unintended consequences on those around us.
Tangentially, I believe that Elsa is the “villain” in Frozen, but that’s another blog post for another time.
I’m struggling to come to terms with my anger in a way that keeps me from harming others and that keeps me from devaluing myself. It’s not easy. Most days I have to convince myself that I’m worthy of food. It’s why I hate to eat alone.
I don’t know how to end this post. I don’t have an answer for my anger. I wish that I could turn it on like Dr. Banner does at the end, with complete control and focused on the evils threatening the world. Even if I can’t do good with my anger I want to do no harm. In any event, my secret is out: I’m always angry.