It is an interesting emotion. Sure, I can rage with the best of them after too many glasses of magic mouth laxative, but half the time I can’t remember what I actually said or if I really meant it. True, thought out, justifiable anger… that’s one of those emotions that leaves me paralyzed, inarticulate and desperately reaching for a soothing glass of something.
I think as a woman we are socialized to take it on the chin. To rise above. To be accommodating. Be ladylike. Be appreciative. Don’t make waves. Fix it. Smooth it over. Make nice.
“Don’t get angry. Anger only destroys the vessel that carries it”. If I have heard my aunt say that to me once I have heard it 100 times.
The problem is, I am angry. I want to scream. I want to out people who have hurt me, abused me and treated me terribly. I want to take an ad out listing the people who harpooned me and humiliated me. I want them to understand how wrong they were. I used to self-medicate to keep the angry lion under control and purring like a lap-cat. Now, the less I drink, the more I think. And the thinking is fueling a growing agitation.
I was harassed by my boss for nearly a year in the middle of my divorce, when I was already down and out and scared and alone and desperate for stability. Not the “nice ass” sort of harassment (although that was part of it), but rather, the shove his uninvited tongue in my mouth, demand pictures and sexual details, proposition me over and over in spite of repeated “no” drum roll and contact me relentlessly on and off of work. That kind of harassment.
While that was horrific enough, there wasn’t enough alcohol in the world to numb the pain and embarrassment that came from turning him in. It’s the kind of pain that goes with a board of directors that did the right thing by making him “retire” but the gave him a year-long consulting gig with our company, reinstated his country club membership to protect his rank in the “good ol’ boys club” and fell over themselves to craft a story that protected his community legacy, while they wrote me up for failing to follow the personnel policy (I waited too long to turn him in), allowed other staff to treat me with open hostility due to misinformation that no one would correct or was allowed to correct (apparently he had been let go because we had an affair… the mere thought of which makes me physically ill), stripped me of most of my organizational authority as a vice-president and verbally encouraged me to walk away from the CEO position that I had been the heir apparent for prior to the scandal.
The whole bad story is the too typical scenario of victim blaming for them. For me, the alcoholic, it was permission to throw caution to the wind and curl up at the bottom of a bottle night after night in order to quiet the angry lions pacing in my brain. I don’t blame them for my drinking, I blame my drinking for not standing up to them; for taking away my chutzpah.
I am angry. And sober. The lion is no longer purring.