The Changing, Part III: Realizations Big and Small

Minna 4.0 is not easy to run.  There are bugs, and at time, the program suddenly freezes up.  Then, I have to shut her down and start her up again.   Sometimes, it’s a simple ‘file not found’ error or a ‘low disk space error’, but on occasion, it’s the blue screen of death and panic sets in.  Then, I just have to shut her off and let her rest a bit before trying to reboot.

For the most part, however, I just have to deal with incompatibilities between Minna 3.0 and Minna 4.0.*  There is a surprising amount of software which is not usable in the upgrade, and I have to figure out how to get rid of it without trashing the entire program.

For example, Minna 4.0 can’t keep her temper, anger, and opinions under control as well as Minna 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 did.

All right.  I have to say this.  There is going to be a lot of recapping in this post.  I will talk about things I have talked about previously.  So, if you are a long-time reader who starts feeling a sense of déjà vu as you read this post, it’s not you.  I really am saying shiitake I’ve said before.   Now, back to the show.

I was taught that all negative emotions were not to be expressed and that anger was not acceptable.  No, it was stronger than that–anger (except as exhibited by my father) was a display of hate.  If you were mad at someone, that meant you didn’t love that person.  No, it was never said in words, but it was felt deeply–at least by me.

I want to be careful here.  I have talked to my brother about our childhood, and his memories are vastly different than mine.  We were talking yesterday, and the topic of our visit to Taiwan came up.  He was wistful as he said, “That was so much fun.”  I made some murmuring noise and changed the subject.  I didn’t need to get into it with him why I felt differently, but it struck me anew how two people can have such diametrically opposing reactions to the same experience.

Back to my childhood.  Anger was verboten.  I stuffed it down, only let it out on ‘safe’ subjects–such as social inequalities.  It wasn’t safe for me to stand up for me, so I stood up for the underdog in general.  I couldn’t say something that happened to me was wrong, but I could say it if it happened to someone else.

Now, I can acknowledge that I am an angry person.  Many things piss me off, but I still try to control it to a certain extent.  If I feel myself getting overheated, I take a breath and try to walk away.  I think this is good advice in general.  After all, many of the things that piss me off are, really, of little consequence.  I don’t need to give a Damascus fig what other people think–not really.

However, Minna 4.0 disagrees that showing anger is always wrong.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is to display one’s anger in order not to allow it to fester.  I have realized that if I allow myself to be pissed off about something for a length of time and do not address that anger, I will eventually explode about something trivial.  And, when I reach the point of explosion, I am less able to have a reasonable discussion or even a heated argument about why I’m pissed.

It’s a vicious cycle.  I bite my tongue because I do not want to upset another person.  I allow the anger to build and build until it comes pouring out of me, thus, upsetting the person I was striving so hard to protect in the first place.

On a similar line, in the past, I would let many debates slide by because I didn’t want to get involved.  Now that I am more invested in politics, it’s harder for me to not step into the fray and add my two cents worth.  However, as someone who has been trained to smooth things over and to placate ruffled feathers, it’s difficult for me to push a debate too hard.  In addition, I tend to think it’s my fault if the person with whom I’m arguing doesn’t seem to get what I’m saying.  I come up with links and explanations, and I try to approach the subject from different angles.  And, if the other person still doesn’t get my point, I assume it’s a failing on my part.  Only recently have I started to realize that in many cases, it’s not me–it’s the other person.  That person either doesn’t have the capability to see things outside of her viewpoint or is willfully ignorant and doesn’t want to see things from my point of view.  Sometimes it’s a mixture of both.  Sometimes, it’s really is a case of two people having different opinions.

In other words, it’s not all about me.  That’s been one of my most-ingrained flaws throughout my life.  I have both a low self-esteem (my opinion doesn’t matter; no one wants to hear what I have to say; I might as well just shut up) AND an inflated sense of my importance (everyone is judging every little move I make; I can irrevocably hurt someone by disagreeing with him; I can kill people’s soul with a disapproving glare), both of which strive to shut me up.

Minna 4.0 is having none of that.  She has things she wants to say, and she’s going to say them, gumdropit!  So, even though I dread confrontation and even though my stomach knots up when I do jump into a debate, I am doing it.

It helps that I have friends with whom I have been able to argue and not have it completely destroy the friendship.   In fact, one good friend has reassured me repeatedly that he isn’t going to stop being my friend because of one argument. Or two or twenty, apparently.  This is eye-opening to me.  I can disagree with someone, even a friend, and it isn’t the End of the World (as we know it).  We can argue.  I can get mad.  He can get mad.   Then, we can get over it and either find common ground or just disagree.

What I’ve realized when it comes to argument and debate is what is worth it to me and what isn’t. Some people enjoy debating for the sake of debating. I don’t. I can’t, really, given my background. Plus, if I’m following a discussion/argument/debate online, I tend to hang back and take in the whole debate before jumping in.  More often than not, I see that someone else has made my point or it’s not worth my effort to jump into the fray.  Therefore, when I actually do dip a toe in the water, I’m pretty invested in the argument.

I don’t argue with people just looking for a fight or people who are not debating in good faith.  I argue to the best of my ability, and then I walk away when I feel it’s done for me.   Now, remember, this is the ideal for me and not what I’m actually able to do.  The brushing off my shoulder and walking away part is not so easy for me.

Taiji has helped me deal with the fact that I have a lot of anger to work through.  A LOT.  It also helps that my teacher has dealt with similar issues and has seen it in many students, especially women.  I am not at all comfortable with my seething rage, but I also realize I’m past the point of being able to stuff it down or pretend it’s not there.  It is.  In multitudes.  And, even though I’m afraid my head will ‘asplode if I let out my anger, I’m more afraid of what will happen if I don’t.

Breaking news!  Minna 4.0 is also going to streamline the hardware options over the next year or so. **

This is running long, as usual.  I’m going to end this here for now and save the rest of the upgrades for part four of this seemingly never-ending series of posts.


*That’s about as far as I can stretch the computer upgrade metaphor.  Any further comparison is solely a figment of my imagination and may or may not be accurate.

**Yes, this means I’m watching my diet and exercising again.  I’m trying to do it in a non-obsessive way this time.  Wish me luck.


7 Responses to The Changing, Part III: Realizations Big and Small

  1. Hi Minna, I really enjoy reading your blog, I find it very therapeutic. This one in particular. I was brought up pretty much the same way. Showing any anger over anything could have some pretty dire consequences. Not being able to express my anger as a child is for sure one of the things that have fucked me up the most.Take Care, Dear.

  2. Hi, Garland. It’s really good to see you on my blog. Thanks for commenting and the compliments. And, yeah, the inability to express anger has cost me a lot in life, so I know what you mean. Hugs to you.

  3. I agree – good to see you here, Garland!

    There’s a world of difference between anger and hate, even between aggression and malice! I am forever grateful that martial arts has given me an outlet for some of this, in a healthy and fun way. And it’s rewarding when I can share this outlet with you and my other students. Because the glow in your eyes afterward makes it all worthwhile. You might call it killer instinct, but it’s also real inner strength.

  4. Choolie, yeah, dang that nuance and all that. It’s so much easier just to say–oooh, scary, icky, can’t do that than to tease out what is acceptable to me personally. Thanks for helping me out with this thorny issue!

  5. I too relate to this anger thing and the denial of expressing said anger.
    Speaking from experience, I’m wishing I had a cutoff switch now because I find myself perpetually pissed off.
    I’m back to being angry and stuffing it till it had its way with whatever victim happens to be close.
    Either way I am happy 4.0 is here.

  6. whabs, that’s what happens to me, too. And, I’m realizing I have a LOT of pissed-off-ness built up in me. Which makes for…interesting moments. Hugs to you.