I never considered myself an angry person before now. But lately, I feel like everything makes me mad—my kids, the weather, this insane presidential election. By the end of the day I feel myself shaking with rage. Do you have any advice besides deep breaths and channeling my inner lotus?
You don’t scare me. Neither does your anger.
I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, but I would prescribe:
-24 hours of no news feed
-four glasses of water and a handful of raisins
-a kickboxing class, preferably at the nearest CKO. Ask for Tara. If your torrent of anger doesn’t jive with the schedule or you’re literally in the middle of a fight and cannot breathe, get on the floor and do 10 push-ups. No joke. I know it sounds obnoxious but please just try it.
Grrrr, I promise I am being earnest. I too struggle with anger. I think it is the sneakiest, snarliest emotion on the spectrum. It’s not easy. I have a long list of anger-induced injuries I’d like to apologize for—broken windows, bald jokes, drunken rants.
I even had a dear friend tell me once, “I used to think you were such a sweet gefilte, but now I think you just act sweet on the outside. Inside, you’re mean.”
FYI, this incident happened over 20 years ago, and yet I can still remember the bulletin board we were standing next to and the way the ground felt like it was tipping and how I wanted to tear a hole in the space-time continuum so I could get sucked into another reality. Because for me, the word mean felt like a label that redefined my very DNA. I felt like instead of blood coursing through me there was venom, and I needed to see my true, evil identity.
With a few decades of distance, I can now see that I am not a mean person, just like you are not an angry person. Just the fact that you have questions about this fanged emotion proves that it doesn’t own or dictate your inner lotus. We are all learning how to deal with our furies. Talking to and about them are the best first steps I know.
“Anger is a brief madness.”
It’s actually been pretty rageful around the Gefilte household lately. Maybe it’s the change of seasons, the repeated viewings of “Star Wars,” or hormones. (I am also testing my water supply for lead.) My 5-year-old has gotten into saying he’s going to “kill” things. Which petrified me at first, but then I decided if he said it at home, and not at real people, I’d allow it.
Here is a brief list of things that my son currently wants to “kill”:
1. Darth Vader
2. Post-it notes that don’t stick any more
3. His butt
Yes, I come from a long line of constipation—both physically and emotionally. I spent so many years holding it all in. I was terrified that if I unleashed my rage, it would light the world on fire. I actually was first attracted to Mr. Gefilte because I saw him have a heated argument with his mom on the phone and then end the conversation with I love you too.
I’d never witnessed that kind of resolution before.
“A wonderful emotion to get things moving when one is stuck is anger. It was anger more than anything else that had set me off, roused me into productivity and creativity.”
Grrrr, ‘tis the season of constipation and anger. Passover, as you may or may not know, is a big deal for gefilte fish. (I’m wearing a three-piece by Parsley & Gabbana if anyone’s asking). But the holiday is actually pretty stressful for me. Because the story involves a lot of unleavened bread and retribution—two ingredients I really do not enjoy.
My God concept is constantly evolving, just like my emotional intelligence, I hope. One thing I know, though, is that I don’t like the idea of an angry God smiting the firstborn of any people. So I asked Rabbi Susan Silverman, author of the beautiful book, “Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World,” how she interprets the violence in the Passover story. She says:
“I am not an apologist for any biblical characters—including God. It feels to me like everyone is sort of stuck re-affirming their own points of view… Given that stuck-ness, we can really see ourselves in that non-redemption/redemption story.”
I like a rabbi who knows how to look murrain in the face and say, “Bring it on.” And I like a good round with a punching bag after a long seder.
Grrrr, I sincerely hope I didn’t piss you off further, and I think you deserve the biggest matzah ball at the table.
With love and schmaltz,
Have a question for Gefilte? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might just get an answer.