Not Angry


The app that I use to track my physical well-being has four options for emotions: sad, happy, sensitive, and PMS.  On one hand, this is understandable since tracking emotions are not the primary reason why the the app was developed, rather the option was included as a way to note when hormones might be affecting one’s emotional well-being. By this training it makes sense that it would only include broad stroke emotions like “happy” and “sad”, but I often find myself deeply annoyed that there isn’t an option for “angry”. The closest option would be “PMS” I suppose, but the very definition of PMS is that it happens at a specific time in the monthly cycle, whereas anger happens anytime. I’m also deeply annoyed by the implication that women don’t feel anger, or, at least, don’t feel it regularly or strongly enough to merit being measured by an otherwise comprehensive tracking app. Using the PMS option as a replacement for tracking Anger is also problematic with the transitive implication that women only experience anger during PMS and therefore women’s anger only exists because of hormones.  Using the Sensitive option to track anger is likewise problematic because it downplays the anger to something minor and easy to dismiss. Tell an angry woman that she’s ‘just being sensitive’. I dare you. 

I was feeling the anger yesterday in a big way. Mid-way through the afternoon I caught myself becoming irrational with envy over a friend’s good fortune. And it was legitimately irrational: it’s not a zero sum equation in which this individual’s success would prevent my own successes. In fact, it is just the opposite: good fortune for my friend would directly lead to good fortune for myself. The tide raises all ships, after all. But my mind wasn’t prepared to listen to cold reasoning: it WANTED THAT FOR MYSELF and was screaming with frustration in the caged part of my brain where I’d stashed it while I tried to focus on payroll. 

Later, it reared its head again after a fat woman carrying a wide load of bags completely blocked the stairs to the train platform and took her sweet time climbing to the top step. I made it to the train doors as they were closing- close enough that I had to pull my arm back as the doors closed, unable to stop them as they closed in my face. Fit to be tied, it took all my will to pace a wide circle on the platform instead of punching something or someone in a blind rage. 

“You almost made it!” Said a guy in a high vis vest. The impulse to connect fist to face was explicit and urgent. 

“Rnnh-huh.” Was the best I could manage through gritted teeth and clenched jaw. 

I turned my back on him and walked away before he could tell me to smile. 

Just being sensitive. Just PMS. 

Missing the train meant missing the connecting bus which meant twenty minutes of standing, stewing in an emotion that I had no acceptable outlet for. My only option was to repress it- to distract myself with social media until I could be civil again. It’s anger that I’m able to control, for the most part, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it and that it doesn’t take it’s toll every time I fail to release it. 

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 18, 2017.

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