Why Do I Get So Angry?

It’s happened again.  Someone said something that pissed me off so badly that I never want to see him again.  Not that I’ve seen so much of him over the last seven or eight years.  It was someone who I dated years ago, and broke off amiably because, well, because we weren’t right for each other.

Now he shows up in my life again, suddenly, without invitation, and wants to strike up a relationship again.  All well and good: I’m open to new relationships now.

So we Skype for a few hours–he lives far away–and that was nice.  We talk about mutual passions passionately–nice too.  And then he drops the bomb.

You see, I am Jewish, and so is he.  He is much more Orthodox-ly observant than I am.  I’m basically, well, just a Jew.  I’m skeptical about a lot of the Orthodox beliefs and customs.  I used to be very, very Orthodox, and I kind of got over that.  A lot of it has to do with the second-class citizen status of Orthodox women.  Most Orthodox people, men and women alike, would object to that statement, saying that men and women respectively have different roles, and that both of those roles are necessary to make up the whole.  I agree with that, except that the roles that are relegated to women are mainly domestic.  That’s all I will say about that.

So this new hopeful is going along giving me tons of advice about Kabbalistic ways of healing PTSD.  It all looked great to me, except that it required the unrestricted use of a mikveh, which is a Jewish ritual bath.  Religious Jewish men use one nearly every day, for Jewish religious men’s reasons.  Jewish women are restricted to using a mikveh only once a month, after their menstrual period has ended; and sometimes before Yom Kippure, the Day of Atonement, as part of the purifying process of the day.

So we entered a discussion regarding the prohibition on women’s free use of the mikveh, which has to do with the rabbinical courts’ rulings that allowing women to immerse in the mikveh at any time would lead to promiscuity, since a woman who has immersed is now in a pure state for sexual relations.  I know, it’s complicated.  So he sends me all these articles that support women’s free access to the mikveh.

That’s where the trouble started.  I pointed out that one of the articles came from a Conservative rabbi (there are three main branches of Judaism:  Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform, and none of them agree with each other), which would make it more lenient than the Orthodox opinions.

He wrote me back saying that Rabbi so-and-so says that Conservative and Reform Jews are heretics, and he doesn’t associate with them.

That pulled my chain really, really bad.  I flared up like gasoline on a campfire.  You can argue all the theory you want, but don’t call other Jews heretics.  That’s like damning them to Hell, even though we don’t believe in Hell.  It’s completely erasing them as valid human beings.

So he realizes what he’s done, begs me not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, backpeddles, and does everything he can think of to get himself out of the tight place he’s stuck his own *ss in.  I won’t have it.  What’s said is said, and I have no obligation to suck it up, because we really don’t have any kind of relationship yet.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have such a tendency to get angry when I feel that someone has been wronged–even myself.  I think it would be nice to just coast along, unaffected by the words and actions of others.  I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried all kinds of ways to stay unattached.  It doesn’t work.

I think it’s all the anger that I didn’t allow myself to feel when I was “scramblin’ down in the streets” (Joni Mitchell) and couldn’t afford to get angry, and during the times that my mother’s wrath kept my mouth firmly closed, lest I get it slapped.

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  1. It sounds like rational anger?

    • I guess so. I just think that any kind of anger is damaging to the body, mind, and spirit. I’d really like to get rid of it, in some peaceful way. Om-shalom.

      • I know what you mean. As much as I say it’s rational, I feel the same as you do about anger. Did writing it help?

  2. i think you are absolutely correct-saying that you stuffed all the anger down for fear of additional abuse, brought on and taught to you by your upbringers. and now you are still equally triggered by anything not ‘just’, only now you can say something, you can break your training. i identify with what you say here, and i have come to very similar conclusions myself. i become easily outraged at ‘injustices’ to me or others, as well as when i feel pushed into a corner, and become helpless and impotent to fix the ‘injustices’. if i am not pushed into a corner, i become enraged in a heartbeat and there’s no stopping me. when i am pushed into a corner, i don’t become enraged, because i cant use it–instead i become utterly sad and tearful. anyway, i think everything you outlined here and your rational is right on the money, and with time and work, you will be able to slow your wick from burning white hot instantly, or from being stuck in the corner, crying.

    • Wow, thanks for your great support, Kat. I like what you say about “breaking training.” I tell you what, though, if I get pushed into a corner, somebody’s going out in a body bag and it won’t be me. I got cornered enough times by my mother that it’s a huge trigger. Even now, when she’s 86, she’s finally learned (just this year) that she BETTER NOT push me into a corner or I’ll come out screaming and ready to rip out some (virtual) lungs. I have a feeling that I will feel globally better when I move to Israel at the end of July.

  3. Yes, if he calls his own race names, what will he someday call you? That’s tough, though, to lose a connection just rekindled from a long time ago. Forgiveness comes from the heart, and if your heart has been as abused as yours, it may not be something you are able to do, at least not at this point in your life. Hopefully with time and distance from your mom, you can allow your heart to heal. I imagine that you are a different person in Israel, as there aren’t a lifetime of bitter memories, only ones that make you feel proud of who you are.

    • Thanks for that….it had been percolating somewhere in my reptilian brain, but you helped it bubble to the surface. He is now claiming that he didn’t mean it like that, and it very well might be true, but I think it triggered an incident last week when my mom slipped a very non-kosher substance into my food, and, knowing very well that she did it, swore that she didn’t, even when I found the bottle of Oyster Sauce right next to my (previously kosher) wok that I let her use for a special occasion. Yes, you’re right–I AM a different person in Israel, free of bitterness. I still have the old hauntings, and some people there make me furious, but that goes away like a puff of wind when I just walk down the old streets and give thanks to the Almighty that I am somehow allowed to be there.

      • Suppressed anger, like lava, will find its way to the surface. I am angry today (work issue), and trying to suppress it and not cry and keep focused was very hard. I cant imagine a lifetime of it.
        I usually let off my steam with a quick verbal blow out, feel better, then amicably make a joke and I am usually ok with the other person. Not being able to do that is making my stomach BURN.
        You may be using displacement coping skills–you know, anger at one thing getting directed at another. Although you had cause to be a bit miffed at him. But burning anger at him is probably multi-factoral. I think if he understood where you are coming from (if you want to keep the friendship) could help him understand you better (?) I cant wait until you are back “Home”. Do you know that I just read an archeologist found evidence of Sodom and a mighty meteorite explosion on the plain? I was fascinated–I love the history of the OT.

        • Yes, the site of Sodom has been known by us natives for quite some time: let me see, geographic area, check. Desert sand blasted by such high heat that the sand melted into glass, check. Stuff like that.

  4. Oh, forgot, just read a study stating that the genetic predisposition of bipolar can get activated from abusive situations–thought of you when I read it.

    • Wow. Can you forward it (if you can find it again) to moxadox (at) gmail dot com? I would love to read it and stash it in my files.

      • Are you plugged into Medscape? It puts out all the new research studies. When I first got on I picked the types that I wanted to see when they came out. I deleted this article, but it may be in my work deleted files. So I will STICKY NOTE myself and try and retrieve! I also saw one on bipolar and memory loss AND today on bipolar and anti-depressants–the new DSM5 guidelines. If you want, I could copy and send you the bipolar stuff if you cant subscribe to Medscape. PS: like the moxadox!

  5. I think you’re entitled to be upset in whatever form you feel like. He knows it too.

    But mothers? Oh yeah, keep it hush .

  6. Completely valid feelings. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I find I react the same way when
    those whose political opinions are radically different from my own try bullying me into thinking their way. Religion and politics – the two most volatile topics ever.

    • And Judaism is rife with them! Living in Israel–oy! Religion? Got lots of that. Did you know that the world headquarters (lovely architecture and gardens) of the Baha’i faith is in Israel? How about the Druze, a relatively “new” religion (only about 2000 years old) whose land was bisected by the 1949 treaty, who have to shout to their relatives in Lebanon from the tops of hills? They are really interesting. Neither Christian, Muslim, nor Jewish, they follow the wisdom of all faiths, filtered through a committee of elders, and they don’t accept converts. Darn. (I’m only half kidding). They are a peaceful people, unless bothered, and then they aren’t. Then we have the “usual suspects” of Abrahamic descent. I better stop now or else I’ll have a new post written right here.

      • Oh right, the reason the Baha’i are in Israel is that the Iranians threw them out and made it a crime punishable by death to be Baha’i, because they follow a different prophet. Nice, huh? So Israel took them in. They are a nice peaceful people.

  7. I had a similar situation as a Christian. Christians calling other Christians heretics. As though name calling is “Godly’. Makes me mad too.

  8. Good for you! Jesus learned from Rabbi Hillel that the first commandment is “love your fellow as yourself.” If we can’t do that, how can we be worthy of the World to Come, let alone bringing about the perfection of the entire world? As long as we are picking at each other over nonsense, we can’t get anywhere.

  9. I used to have a lot of anger too. I was angry all the time. It was awful. Then I discovered that I was angry about anything and everything because I couldn’t be angry at my parents. I am not angry anymore. Well, not very often… every now and then, the old angry monster wakes up but I manage to send it back to the dark pit where it belongs.

    • You’ve hit the nickel on the head. Or the dime. Whatever. Anyway, you’re a hundred percent right. I am angry at my parents. I talk about that once a week with my therapist. I do hypnosis about it. The only thing that seems to work is what I call the Geographic Solution: living as far away from them as possible. I actually do live 6,000 miles away from them, but I came to help them in a time of need and ended up staying 2 1/2 years, which is about to end in a month. Then I will feel much better, except for the inevitable times when some holier-than-thou person tries to tell me what I can or cannot do. That makes me mad.

  10. PS to QUEENLORENE: SInce I’m an MD I get the “super-special-whoop-de-do” edition of Medscape. I actually did a bunch of research on there about memory loss and BP (I’m sure you know how to mine the footnotes for the original studies, which you can then find on PubMed) and confronted my shrink with what I had found. He shrugged his shoulders in the endearing way he has and said, Oh yes, that’s been known since (and he rattles off all the references I just worked my butt off to find.) Dear man, it’s a good thing I love him and he really is a good neuropsychiatrist, otherwise I would think bad thoughts about him. He used to be a Greek Orthodox priest. Now he’s a shrink who spends most of his clinical hours on the women’s prison psych service. So I have to admit he’s on my “angel” list even though he can be frustrating at times.

  11. It is normal for people to get anger because that is one our characteristic as a human being. But then it not normal for a person to so angry without any acceptable reason.


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