Angry All the Time

July 6, 2022
Istanbul, Turkey

This is gonna be a rant. About ranting, I guess. It may end up being a disjointed piece, depending on whether I edit it or not.

The problem is that I’m so troubled inside that I don’t know exactly where I want to start or what I want to say. But I can guarantee that what comes out is going to be negative.

That’s because I’m steeped in negativity. I’m not a “glass half empty” guy. I’m the guy wondering who spilled the goddamn drink or was too stupid to pull the Guinness draft properly.

I always find the bad side of things. Well, not always, but way more than most people.

I’m easily frustrated, especially by technology and systems that I am unfamiliar with. What seems quite simple for most others is confounding to me. I often say that “technology hates me” when an app fails to load, a link fails to work, or I’m denied access when others have zero problem.

I’m quick to criticize when things that should work don’t. To be honest, a large part of that may be due to having grown up in a more advanced western country. I hate to admit that I might be guilty of American exceptionalism. I don’t want to be associated with that. There are many things about my native country that I am ashamed of, and I regularly point those out as well.

Nevertheless, I do find myself speaking out loud about failures in what I consider to be basic services when I’m living in other places. I’m tempted to give examples here, but that’s kind of the opposite of my goal right now.

This is not how I want to be. I know that my negativity can be alienating to some – okay, many – but it seems to pour out of me anyway.

It’s not that I can’t be positive about things. I am genuinely happy when good things happen for other people. I celebrate their wins, their accomplishments and achievements.

When my friends are down, I am one that they feel they can confide in, because I do my best to hear them and be uplifting. I don’t offer cheap platitudes, but genuine encouragement to see things in a positive light. They often thank me for helping. But all I did was listen without judgement and try to help them see that whatever the situation is, it’s not permanent.

I just don’t have people that I trust to be able to handle my feelings when I feel the need to confide. Mostly because they don’t want to hear it. They can’t handle my negative feelings and try to combat them by telling me I need to not be so negative. Not helpful. Which makes me feel invalidated. Which makes me want to not share anymore. Which, in turn, makes me more angry. But only inside.

Mostly, my anger is expressed as sarcasm. I see no merit or benefit by shouting, screaming, or otherwise verbally flailing at the problem. I tend to be quick-witted, knowing in the moment exactly where to slide my knife-like comments. However, in many cases it would probably be better if I kept my knives sheathed.

Since I was a kid, I always admired older men who were funny. Not clownish, but quick with a retort or comment that pointed out the irony or the humor in what otherwise might be a sad situation. I don’t know if I modeled myself after them, or if this “gift” just came naturally to me.

If I had to guess why I do this, it’s due to depression that manifests itself as anger. My doctor told me that once. Then he wrote me a prescription for Zoloft and sent me to a psychologist who simply told me what I already knew at the end of the session. That pissed me off too.

I had an uncle who was ALWAYS funny. We met Uncle Ron when he married my dad’s sister. As kids, we laughed at everything he said. Because he never seemed to be serious. It would often irritate our aunt, though she sometimes couldn’t help laughing too, while telling us not to laugh at what he had just said.

I confused him being humorous with him being happy. But he wasn’t.

Nobody knew it at the time, but Uncle Ron was extremely depressed. He was fighting demons that none of us could even fathom. Nearing the end years of the war in Vietnam, Ron was in a special forces unit that was illegally sent into Laos to disrupt “insurgents” and those who were perhaps cooperating with them.

Things that he witnessed there, or was ordered to take part in, haunted him for the rest of his life. I cannot even imagine the pain he harbored inside. Pain which he could only deal with by expressing the humorous side of nearly everything. It wasn’t until decades after that he finally suffered a stress breakdown and the true story was revealed.

I don’t have that type of trauma. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not dealing with demons of my own. I’ve previously written about my past growing up and living the majority of my life so far in a religion, which I later recognized as a religious cult.

I have recurring pain from dealing with that fallout, especially since I left. It’s not the sole reason for my anger, however. I’m sure there’s some type of chemical imbalance in my brain/nervous system that exacerbates the issue.

For me, if I’m allowed to explain it, my sarcasm and negative quips sometimes serve as a pressure relief valve. At least that’s how I try to rationalize it.

I go through bouts of moderate to severe depression, where it’s so much easier to not get out of bed or leave my apartment. Occasionally I have suicidal ideations, which I recently wrote about.

I do recognize these feelings for what they are, however. I know where they come from. And I know that they aren’t a permanent, full-time fixture in my life. So I’m able to be a bit rational about the situation, knowing that I need to get out, take a quick holiday, get fresh air, exercise (which I loathe), and eat something good for me. These aren’t a cure, but they do tend to ameliorate the dark thoughts and feelings.

Pete Townshend of The Who wrote “Behind Blue Eyes” in 1970, and those lyrics possibly express most clearly how I feel at times. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs. Give it a listen sometime if you aren’t familiar with it.

I’ve often been criticized for my negativity. I tend to internalize that criticism, which makes me feel like I’d rather not be around people if they think that way about me. But that’s not healthy, nor is it what I want for myself.

I am a very social person. I don’t do well alone. I used to lie to myself, saying that I didn’t need anyone else nor their approval. But I do.

So I tell myself that I’m going to keep my mouth shut unless I have only positive things to say. But it doesn’t really work. I can be positive. I have many good things to say, to express, to share with others. But if robbed of my outlet to even lightly chide others or be a bit sarcastic about a situation, I feel muzzled and out of place.

I’m trying hard to find a balance.

So when my (figurative) fist clenches, crack it open before I use it and lose my cool. And when I smile, tell me some bad news before I laugh and act like a fool.

I’m trying hard not to be angry all the time.