Once upon a time a long time ago, I was sent to counseling. Well… anger management, really.
Hear me out, okay?
I was in a very bad situation in college. Basically, there were some unhealthy expectations placed on students, and I’m not good at complacency when being told to just grin and bear it. It got to the point where I was given an ultimatum, and I told a high-ranking academic official to go f**k himself. For the record, he deserved it.
So, I got sent to anger management. There was a very fancy building on campus I had never visited before. And, after filling out a lot of paper work, I was sent in to see a very nice lady. She asked me why I was there, and I told her the whole story. From scales and straight A’s to calculus and pointe shoes. By the time I had finished, the hour was basically up, and she said I had every right to be angry. I just needed to use politer terms to express my anger than “go f**k yourself.”
And I still had to go back. Once a week for the rest of the academic year. Things I continued to learn: Don’t swear at the people who can make you go to counseling. More important things I learned: Angry isn’t always a bad thing. There are times in life where it’s good to be angry. There are situations where flames searing the side of your face is the most logical and reasonable response.
There are awful things in this world that tear you up and spit you out, and there is no harm in feeling like you want to scream. Or actually shouting into the void of the world that you been put in a really shit spot.
There are things that don’t help when you’re angry—ahem go f**ck yourself—but there are productive responses. Like getting out of a bad situation. Standing up for yourself. Saying this far and no further. I draw the line.
And it’s hard sometimes to give yourself permission to say you’re in Crapsville. To say I’m having a bad day and I’m not going to be cheerful. To say I’m sorry but I don’t like this person. To shake your head and say no, a half-hearted apology will not make up for an intentional wrong.
I’m a happy person. I like kittens and cheese and pretty trees. I have a great life with two wonderful careers, an amazing support system, and the world’s best husband. And I am here to tell you from years of experience, it’s okay to draw the line. It’s okay to be angry. And it’s okay to walk away. You don’t need permission. You already have the power.
Just maybe be a little more graceful about it than I.