Tag Archives: anger

My Angry Friend

(How do I say this without sounding crazy. I don’t think that’s possible. I’m okay with that.)

I have this friend named Angry Tracie. She first showed up when I was 16 and pregnant; until recently, I didn’t realize how much a part of my life she’d become.

Angry Tracie has been my trusted companion when I’m hurting, and I’ve especially enjoyed rehashing old hurts with her. She seemed to be the only person who listened to me and cared about my feelings. Her presence comforted me. Angry Tracie became my closest friend.

I got saved 13 years ago. But I’ve still trusted her more than anyone. Through lots of personal struggles, when I felt like God wasn’t listening, didn’t like me and wasn’t concerned about my broken heart, Angry Tracie was there to console me. (That’s a hard thing to confess for a Christ-follower.)

I didn’t recognize Angry Tracie’s influence, more than 20 years of it. But I do now. Knowing about her is changing the way I think and behave and live. Jesus is gently working us through it. Man. I love Him for that.

Do you have a “friend” who might be keeping you from really living, and really loving?

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June 8, 2009

After a serious outburst of anger last Christmas, I decided to see a counselor. Though I felt (and still feel) the anger itself was justifiable, the wild, edge-of-insane intensity of it scared me. 

In the beginning, I left each session feeling like I’d gone through a blender. There was a lot of picking scabs off forgotten wounds. They would hurt and bleed almost as much as they had when they’d first been inflicted. I’d walk out of the office and cry in my car. Eventually I just went ahead and cried in the office, where I had ready access to tissue. Either way, I’d spend a day or two afterwards, reliving and rehashing, and thinking none of this could be healthy. Uncovering the pain seemed to be making things worse, not better.

Soon I began to connect the dots between traumatic events. The recurring theme in my life was rejection; as the theme recycled itself in all my significant relationships, a pattern of thoughts and resulting behaviors emerged.

Eventually I began to see what was hidden behind all my feelings and all my actions. My counselor would ask what I thought or believed about a situation, and I’d answer honestly. But the honest answers coming out of my mouth were not the beliefs I publicly profess. They were secret beliefs I’d never acknowledged–not openly, and often not even consciously. It turns out those hidden beliefs rule me.

It’s strange how suddenly and unexpectedly so much became so clear. Among the realizations was that I’ve never had a healthy, loving relationship. I used to trust; not anymore. I’ve never experienced fidelity. I’ve never known acceptance without contingency. I’m surprisingly, vehemently angry about it. That anger has been smoldering beneath the surface so long that it was just part of me, like my limbs or my brown skin. Except that sometimes it would flare up and surprise me.

So how could my life so far have prepared me for the God who is supposed to be a loving father, husband and friend? One who accepts me as I am and loves me with no strings attached? One who won’t hurt me or use me, or ignore me until I go away?

I don’t believe it.

I love God so much! But I don’t entirely trust him. And how can he love me when I feel this way? I don’t know how to hope or anticipate or believe my life can be anything but what it’s always been.

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June 7, 2009

Friday night I spent time with a group of Christian women and got to participate (though my input was minimal) in a phenomenal conversation about sex and marriage. I went to bed unaffected, but I woke up Saturday morning filled with sadness, regret. The sweet and precious joy my friend will have, that so many women in that room had, is something I threw away. My rash decision is impacting my life all these many years later.

To top things off, that night I watched a movie that awakened in me a sleeping giant of anger and bitterness. (Well … the giant had been taking a restless nap. It was sleeping with one eye open. It was pretending to be asleep.)

I have never had a relationship with a man who was faithful to me. Not my father: I haven’t seen or heard from him in more than 33 years. Not my step-father: I never felt acknowledged or accepted by him. And not the men with whom I’ve shared my most personal self. All these were the men to whom I had entrusted my heart and life and being.

Wasn’t I ever of value to any one of them? It is horrible to realize, to acknowledge, that the answer is no.

Last night I was finally able to just admit to myself that I am bitter. I am in so much daily emotional pain and so weighed down by bitterness that these feelings seem entirely normal. I don’t know how it feels to be without them. They’re an inseparable part of me. Like my limbs, or my brown skin.

Those men saw me as a means to an end: Just one female among many hundreds of females, serving no purpose but to satisfy an immediate need.

Yet as a woman–as a wife and mother, and now as a Christian–I have been entrusted with the responsibility to minister respect, honor, servanthood and submission to my husband. I am also to model these things to my sons and daughters. I’m failing miserably. How can I be that woman? I want to, but all I have is this armor of anger and bitterness. I don’t know how to put it down. I don’t think my muscles and joints know how to move in such a strange way.

Of course, there’s God. The Bible says he’s different than men. He’s faithful and loving; he’s my father and my husband and my friend. These are good things. I know God is good.

But I feel like he sees me the same way as every other significant man I’ve known.

If not for the covering of Jesus’ blood, I’d be one indistinguishable dead body in a mass grave. A ragged tangle of muddy arms and legs and faceless faces, like those horrible pictures from Nazi concentration camps. Instead I’m one person in a living, moving crowd of arms and legs and faceless faces in the World that God So Loves. As an individual, I have nothing to offer, no intrinsic value. When God’s eyes roam to and fro over the earth, they skip right over me.

This me, unembellished, is not enough. Add to all this ordinary shabbiness the fact that I’m bitter and angry, and I’m utterly useless.

I know what the Bible says, okay. I know that my heart is lying to me. But this is just … where I am right now.

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Angry Moms

19178313I read an interesting article in Parenting Magazine a couple weeks back, and I decided right then to discuss it on my blog! The article’s called “Mad at Dad,” and it appeared in their February 2009 School Years issue.

Here’s an excerpt:

These are the kinds of things we see parodied on TV sitcoms, where bumbling husbands get laughs for feeding the kids frosting sandwiches and sending them to school in scuba gear. These are the kinds of things we moan and groan about when we get together with our other mom friends, often playing our irritations for laughs. Honestly though, it’s not that funny. None of us signed up to live in a sitcom. [Emphasis mine.]

The article goes on to share the results of a survey of over 1,000 mothers. The results surprised me. I honestly thought my frustration was a rarity. I assumed most families were trucking happily along, that in this day and age most dads were doing their fair share to bring about a happy home. Based on the results, there are a lot of guys who are doing it right. However, more moms than I thought are angry. And now that I know I’m not alone, I want to talk about it.

Here are some of the mom statistics (of the 1,000+ women surveyed):

  • 46% get irate with their husbands once a week or more.
  • 44% say dads don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids. (This figure jumps to 54% for moms with 3 or more kids.)
  • 40% say their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids.
  • 31% say their husbands don’t help with the chores.
  • 33% say their husbands aren’t shouldering equal responsibility.
  • 50% say their husbands get more time for themselves.
  • 60% don’t tell their friends what they’re going through.

Okay people, here’s the deal. Rather than let this become a bashfest (and it very easily could–with me as the ringleader), what I really want is perspective. This is 2009! I thought we were past this whole “Me man, me drink beer; you woman, you barefoot, make baby and sandwiches” thing!*

This is what I want to know:

  • Men, seriously. Do you* really not notice these things? If the answer is an honest no, hasn’t your wife mentioned them? If so, why aren’t you doing anything about it?
  • Perhaps men* believe this is what women were “meant” to do, so we should just suck it up and do it. But if we’re really meant to be satisfied with this, why aren’t we? More importantly, does it matter to you that we aren’t satisfied?
  • Maybe men* believe they’ve done their share at the office. But … we work too, whether it’s in the office or at home with the kids! Let’s be real here!

I’m just not buying the assertion that because I’m a woman, I have some special perspective on parenting and household duties. Men are intelligent, strong, able-bodied… What’s the deal? Is this stuff really that confusing?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it. Ladies, some of you may disagree, but here it is:

Men, we need you. We need your strength, but we also need your tenderness and concern. We need to see a side of you that nobody else sees. We need to know you care, and we need to see your care in your actions. When we’re overwhelmed with the kids, the house, the job, et cetera, we need you to show us we’re not alone. We need you to share the load; we’re not meant to carry it by ourselves. And when we’re feeling upset, we don’t need a bouquet! Flowers can’t possibly compare to a man with a mop in his hand. (Unless he has already mopped.)

Thoughts? Perspectives? Opinions?

*DISCLAIMER: I know, I know. This isn’t directed at all men. More than that, the statistics only represent one side of the story. Further, these are the women’s perspectives, not necessarily reality. Finally, the statistics make it clear that these feelings aren’t shared by all women. So if this doesn’t apply to you, go in peace!

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