You find yourself shaking. Physically shaking. What’s going to happen? What are the consequences? Should you say something? Maybe you should rehearse that conversation in your head a few more times. Prepare for every possible response you can think of. Know how you’re going to handle every possibility. It’s nerve-wracking. You can’t screw this up. It’s important to you. If only your heart would stop racing…

Sound familiar?

One of the things I’ve discussed with my psychiatrist over the years is that repressed anger can manifest as either anxiety or depression. Or both. I think Yoda had something to say about this path leading to the Dark Side, too.

And oh my, do I have a dark side! And a lot of repressed anger. Expressing my anger usually doesn’t work out very well for me, so I internalize it. The anxiety builds as I bite my tongue and try to stuff down my feelings, afraid of what would happen if I were to let it out. The depression kicks in when the scenario that has made me angry never changes, and I’m stuck in a pain loop. At some point, the pain becomes too much, and I explode in a torrent of emotion that ends up resulting in the very bad things I was worried about in the first place.

I never seem to learn.

What sorts of things might someone like me be so angry about? The unfairness of the world. Big issues like social injustice. Personal tragedies like the death of my father. My rather poor state of health relative to the wellness of my peers. The cruelty of former friends.

That sort of thing.

Some of these things are completely out of my control. I can’t end child hunger or protect the vulnerable against bullies and bigots. Some of these things I can personally affect, but there are still limits to what my efforts can accomplish.

Logically, I know that life isn’t fair. But in my heart and in my mind, I cannot accept this. I also know that I can’t control other people’s behavior, and the saying goes that I can only control my reaction to it. Except that I can’t. If I could control it, I don’t suppose I’d be in the position to write about this subject. My reactions are often not conscious. And even when I make a conscious effort to stop thinking about something that isn’t healthy for me to be ruminating on, my subconscious takes over. That thing shows up in my dreams,  or when I see a name, or hear a song, or autocomplete suggests part of a text conversation that now lingers as a painful memory… Triggers are everywhere.

I’m trying to let it go. My brain won’t let me.

Last week, my husband held me one night as I literally shook with rage. This morning, I tried to process some of that with my psychiatrist. Weeks and months and years of processing. And I get angry at myself for not being able to “get over it” like “normal” people are supposed to.

And the cycle continues.

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