You know how sometimes in movies a man will say to a woman, "You're so beautiful/hot/sexy when you're angry"? Well, I can say with great certainty that I was not the inspiration of that line.
First of all, I rarely exhibit outward signs of anger. Secondly, on the rare occasion that I do, I'm pretty sure it's not hot, as anger usually makes me nervous, inarticulate and even a bit teary...leading me to my third point, which is that I generally avoid confrontation like the plague, and nobody ever looked sexy while desperately trying to change the subject.
That said, a few months ago I got (and stayed--for weeks) really angry about something. It was a first for me and I don't think I handled it very well, but it and its aftermath have profoundly affected the way I feel about anger, as well as what it means to forgive.
The Thing That Made Me Angry was, in retrospect, not that big of a deal. It wasn't an act of malice or cruelty; I wasn't physically harmed, nor was anything taken from me--I just got kind of screwed over. But regardless of the cause, the feeling it inspired was very much alive...and I had no idea what to do with it, as it was totally foreign. My cheeks felt hot and my heart pounded at first, but this was a confident anger--a cool anger. The usual flustering and word-fumbling I was used to was nowhere to be found and instead, I found myself spitting out complete sentences--great sentences and cracking truly funny, if bitter, jokes. I didn't recognize this cutting, sharpened version of myself, but I didn't dislike her.
This went on for weeks. I fell asleep mad, I woke up mad. My appetite was diminished, but it didn't bother me--I secretly relished exploring this new emotion. I felt powerful and in control of the upper hand for once.
I had no intention of exacting revenge. In some ways, the person I was angry with stopped mattering--this was about my working through something, unearthing a piece of myself that had previously terrified me.
And then I got over it. I'm still not sure if I actively worked through the issue or if I just got tired of feeling so angry (anger, while therapeutic in its own way, is quite exhausting), but eventually I noticed that I felt more compassion than bitterness when reflecting on The Thing That Made Me Angry. Suddenly it was better described as The Thing That Kind of Sucked.
It did for sure Suck, but it's over now. And even if no further reparations take place, I am coming to realize that the best thing I got out of it was a damn good lesson on the benefits of getting in touch with my propensity to feel anger. It's not a pleasant emotion to experience, but I truly believe that moving consciously through it is the best possible way to get to the other side.
And the other side is lovely.