“No. I disagree. No one wins when family “yells at each other”! Not a sign of a “healthy family! No! ” You made that up!” You “make up” a lot of things! When they serve you!


Apr 21, 2010by tracey Comments

“No. I disagree. No one wins when family “yells at each other”! Not a sign of a “healthy family! No! ” You made that up!” You “make up” a lot of things! When they serve you! Read the studies. (There are studies about families and anger; and yelling!) Expressing anger by yelling simply makes it explode. It makes you angrier…and sicker. It isn’t healthy for the children. It isn’t healthy for the adults. It makes for chaos for children…. and adults. It destroys families…and it makes children get sick. Really sick. You are championing chaos and yelling? You should be ashamed of yourself.”

–This Comes From Penelope, An Avid Follower Of The Blog

“If the anger is justified and the response is appropriate, usually the misunderstanding is corrected,” notes Averill. Relatedly, anger can be constructive when people frame it in terms of solving a mutual problem rather than as a chance to vent their feelings, says Tavris. “The question is not, ‘Should I express anger or should I suppress it?’ It is, ‘What can we do to solve the problem?'”

Likewise, it is helpful to understand that anger is contextual and social, Tavris adds. When anger fails to fill a constructive framework, however, it can morph into undesirable expressions of the emotion, anger experts say. Anger externalized can turn into violence and aggression; anger internalized can cause depression, health problems and communication difficulties, they note.”

–This Comes from The American Psychological Association

When you put yourself out there the way I do you are bound to develop enemies and people who disagree. And if we are to go along with what not only The American Psychological Association has to say, but endless other studies as well, anger is not something to run from. In fact what I was saying yesterday – it’s the running from anger that often times gets us into the most trouble.

If we go with Penelope’s theory, anger is something to be ashamed of. Being it is one of the five basic feelings, telling anyone to be ashamed of a feeling is denying them their sense of self on a very primal level and one of the most destructive things one human can do to another. As The American Psychological Association says, anger dealt with is most often the road to resolution.

No one likes yelling, no likes having to do it and no one likes being on the receiving end of it. Despite my taking part in a lot of it during Taylor’s teen years, I have spent much of my life running from it. My method of choice to deal with anger is to cry and then hide.  I walk away from whoever made me angry often times without uttering a word, and then usually I cry. This is not a good way to cope – but it’s what I did for years.  It’s what I saw and I never had any other lessons in how to deal with it. We often mimic what we see and that is where the elephant in the room comes into play. Anger was also not really one of my options while growing up. But to pretend anger doesn’t exist, well, that is insanity.

It’s like pretending any of the other emotions we might find uncomfortable or ones we feel society might judge us for having don’t exist: jealously, lust, rage (unresolved anger’s evil twin) they are there, they show up, often times unannounced and without a return ticket home; and if they are not given their voice and their day in court they will hang around and fester and grow until well, they are elephants so large there is no plane, train or automobile big enough to transport them out of your life. And then you are stuck with them forever.

I’m not condoning yelling and screaming and throwing plates on a daily basis or as a way to live one’s life.  But, when anger is there and not looked at and dealt with it will destroy. Unresolved anger is far more destructive than a good old fashioned fight any day. And only a lunatic or someone with his or her own unresolved anger issues would say otherwise.

In life there are extremes in everything. Some people have more than others, anger is not something you can just stick in a box with a bow and give it a resolution. To get to the bottom of it can be a long drawn out process with a lot of pain attached, a lot of illusions shattered. Many people would rather stay in the dark, despite the fact living with real anger on a daily basis is as dark as it gets.

My grandmother, whom I loved and was beyond good to me, when I now look at her objectively, was an angry woman. I don’t think she would have described herself that way, I don’t think she could have articulated what she was angry about if she had been asked; which I doubt she ever was.  She did not yell at me, though she did fight with my mother. She did not to my recollection yell at my grandfather, though my grandfather was someone you didn’t yell at. Not only was this a time (see article below) when one did not yell at elders, he was an attorney who fought with the labor unions as part of his practice.  This was not a guy you could yell at and win.  And I’m sure she wanted to yell at him and others but she couldn’t.

Yet like many people with unresolved anger she did get it out– she yelled at waitresses,  salespeople,  cab drivers and people in service positions who could not yell back. She yelled where she controlled the situation, where she was safe and the foundations of her life would not be threatened. I think many people do this….watch, you see it all over the place.

They say often times, especially with kids, they yell at the parent they feel safe yelling at; the one who will not walk away or really retaliate.  In retrospect, Taylor felt safe yelling at me.  She knew I wouldn’t go anywhere; I was there to stay.

Now why I yelled back was another issue, and that is something I had to get to the bottom of. Sometimes one yells back as that is just what people do. There is no question I too was harboring anger, and while I was frustrated with Taylor and her behavior during a period, my rage was not at her, though she was on the receiving end at times.

One doesn’t want to say she started it, but I don’t tend to yell for the sake of yelling. Well, maybe at Time Warner Cable when I’m on hold for two hours, but not as a daily practice   But when she turned into a teen and those difficult years appeared as they do, and she yelled – I yelled back. I think I was making up for a lot of yelling I didn’t do in my own teen years when I wanted to. I was reliving a time and place where all of a sudden I was in charge. This happens a lot, it’s not good, and I had to fix it.

I was responsible for fixing me.  At that time I was harboring unresolved, misdirected anger and putting it to bad use. Forget the fact she was driving me nuts, I was the grown up, but there were days I would get confused and think I was a teenager again.

People deal with anger in such a myriad of ways.  What is the over abundance of alcohol numbing?  What is drug use medicating?  Why are so many people on anti-depressants? So some people numb it. Some misdirect it. Some–most– pretend it doesn’t exist.  Some yell and scream, and some really evolved souls deal with it properly.  Those are few and far between – it’s something to aspire to.

Sometimes one walks out of the room and waits to cool down and then picks it up later when tempers have diminished.  We have learned over time this is a better way to deal, as yelling for the sake of yelling is not always the best approach. I will agree with Penelope on that. Though sometimes it’s a good release, as long as nobody is hurt in the process.

But the quiet, keep it inside, everything is OK kind of person…. well take it to the extreme, and mind you this is the far extreme – from the Unabomber, to Timothy McVeigh to the Columbine kids to almost every serial murderer in history- they always turn out to be the quietest guy on the block. A little off – but when the reporters show up at the house of the lady who lives next door, who usually looks like she is waiting to win Publishers Clearing House, she always has the same thing to say,  “He was the nicest man, always quiet, kept to himself, he used to bring me milk when he went to the store.”   She didn’t have the foggiest idea he was plotting murders and making bombs in his silence.

The guy is never the lout next door, brandishing guns and insulting everyone in his path. He is a simmering stew of unresolved hatred that taken to the worst place possible decides to unleash his anger on innocent people and kill. Now we do have to allow for some plain lunacy and insanity in many instances. But in my lifetime I have seen a lot of unresolved anger taken out on many unsuspecting, undeserving people.

I had a friend with anger issue; once when I happened to be in a car with him, someone took the parking place he was waiting for, without a word he leapt from the car, and opened the guy’s door and started to hit him. Hello…. this is not road rage – it’s life rage.  I did not know the person well enough to know their issues – and I didn’t stick around long enough after that to learn, but they had to have been deep and totally unexamined.

Perhaps a few good fights at home when he was young and admitting on the sofa of a good shrink that he was not the happiest camper around could have reduced this type of over the top response. One of the first things a good therapist does is get to the bottom of what you might be angry at.

And hello, we are all entitled to be angry.  The five basic feelings we all experience are “Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Love or Affection.”

Now you would not judge anyone for feeling any of the others, but anger, which is just as prevalent and important, is the scary one as when taken too far, as we see can result in harm. People’s own anger frightens them as does the anger of those around them.  So a see no evil approach often wins out. Though left alone  it can control your life and the lives of those around you.

But as the studies have shown when dealt with properly, understood and placed in its right desktop folder on the home screen of your emotional make-up it is just as vital an emotion as the others.

The thing about anger is it causes pain and suffering and we don’t like pain and suffering, so we do things to avoid it. People aren’t afraid of happiness– well, some are actually, but that’s a whole other blog. Let’s just say the others are more widely embraced and accepted. But unexamined and under-explored or denied anger can rob us of the three of the other five emotions.  It can rob us of the ability to experience joy, love and affection. It alienates us from others and ourselves so we end up locked into a prison where sadness and anger are the guards who hold the key.

I have seen this with many people in my own life. It’s why I have taken such a public path to dealing with it and hopefully helping others to do the same.

For every Penelope there are ten people who get it. But the Penelopes exist and one can’t just hear the praise. She says this, among other things:

“You are an angry, angry person. Incredibly angry. I wish you well. Your “documentary”  is a very sad commentary on a very sad family with a sad and angry mother.  An angry mother is an ugly mother. And a destructive mother. I hope you can let go of that anger.”

Not only is it a mixed message,  I thought for a time she might know me. Why else would she be bombarding me with messages? But if she does know me she does not know me very well, as she would know that anger is not the negative emotion that plagues me, in the area of my life I have no power in resolving – it’s much more in the realm of sadness.