Perception

Do you know when you’re angry?

This isn’t a fallacious question. My mother always denied feeling angry when she obviously was, storming around the kitchen, slamming drawers and cupboards.

Do you allow yourself to feel jealousy? Or envy? Or any of those socially not acceptable emotions?

I have a character who’s angry pretty much all the time. But she doesn’t allow herself to feel it, not really, not until the third novel. She’s going to have to express if physically, have another character comment on it, without ever really being aware of it herself. It’s a tricky dance, and quite possibly too subtle. I keep thinking about it.

I have a second character who must, by the end of the third novel, deny his feelings, bottle them up and never express them, ever again. Again, tricky to show.

Personally, I’m very unaware of when I’m tired. I had an undiagnosed thyroid condition for most of my life. I was tired all the time, but I never let myself experience it. I’d drive myself to exhaustion on a regular basis, come down with what I called an exhaustion cold. I thought I had a weak immune system, and was always getting sick. It wasn’t that at all.

One of the things I was supposed to work on this year was allowing myself to feel tired. I really haven’t done that work at all, though. But maybe I will this weekend, as I recover from my ordeal of this past week.

Comments (30)

  1. It does seem denial is a common response to something we cannot deal with. It is good to recognize these, but also it is good to then find a way to deal with them. This could mean not resorting to violence when you are angry OR getting rest when you need it. Take time to relax this weekend; your readers will want you in shape for future writing. 🙂

    • Didn’t do much this weekend. It was good to completely rest. And I’m going to keep working on the feeling it when I’m tired.

  2. I have a hard time constructively expressing anger. I either bottle it up or let it out in little mean snippets.

    Something that’s developed over the last couple years is getting cranky when I’m hungry. I think it’s related to having relatively high blood sugar levels. And of course, if I’m told “You’re getting cranky. Have something to eat,” my reaction is “I’m not cranky!”

    It sounds like this is a good weekend to practice acknowledging feeling exhausted, as necessary. ;>

    • It’s taken a lot of years for me to figure out how to use my anger constructively. A lot of it has to do with giving myself permission.

      I don’t so much get cranky with low blood sugar as stupid.

      And I’ve been practicing relaxing a lot!

  3. I’ve been actively working on recognizing when I’m angry–and letting myself fully feel said anger–the past few months. It’s funny how sneaky we can be in hiding such things from ourselves, even those of us who aren’t even-tempered in the first place.

    • Living by myself has been such a boon, to me, for feeling all those emotions. Because it’s only me I don’t hide as much, if that makes sense.

  4. i was raised to think that nice young ladies didn’t get angry. the way i dealt with it was that i turned to punk music. (yes, i was the black sheep of the family — which is laughable if you really knew how very non-black sheepy i really am.) nonetheless, i was taught to express anger through passive-agression. when i chose to be healtier, i vented my anger with angry music and angry art. it helped quite a lot. now, i suppose, i write angry stories. not a bad thing, really.

    • I was raised that way as well. And like you, I was passive-aggressive — still probably am, to some extent. My short fiction tends to be pretty dark. My longer fiction not as much, and as I express myself more in my life, I can explore lighter themes in my work.

  5. It does seem denial is a common response to something we cannot deal with. It is good to recognize these, but also it is good to then find a way to deal with them. This could mean not resorting to violence when you are angry OR getting rest when you need it. Take time to relax this weekend; your readers will want you in shape for future writing. 🙂

    • Didn’t do much this weekend. It was good to completely rest. And I’m going to keep working on the feeling it when I’m tired.

  6. I have a hard time constructively expressing anger. I either bottle it up or let it out in little mean snippets.

    Something that’s developed over the last couple years is getting cranky when I’m hungry. I think it’s related to having relatively high blood sugar levels. And of course, if I’m told “You’re getting cranky. Have something to eat,” my reaction is “I’m not cranky!”

    It sounds like this is a good weekend to practice acknowledging feeling exhausted, as necessary. ;>

    • It’s taken a lot of years for me to figure out how to use my anger constructively. A lot of it has to do with giving myself permission.

      I don’t so much get cranky with low blood sugar as stupid.

      And I’ve been practicing relaxing a lot!

  7. The answer used to be, no, I didn’t know. Because I was angry *all the time*, and if I examined any single part of that anger, I would — in order to be the kind of person I wanted to be — I would have to examine all of it, and that would cause me to lose something I wanted dearly. Oh, heck, Leah, I’m talking about my break up with Sam. 😛 You may recall it vaguely. In The World According To Me, that happened when I started to acknowledge my anger over things — and, in order to be the person I wanted to be, I made changes. Those changes were not compatible with my existing relationship — which was the outcome I’d feared all along.

    When I was in therapy, my therapist used to ask me how I was feeling. And then, curses on the man, he would insist I use EMOTION WORDS to describe it, not work-arounds. Not flat, blah, waiting, or :shrug:. Actual emotion words. I still find this amusing. I used to rail at him, “Flat is TOO an emotion! I know because I’m FEELING IT.” And he would point out that my raised voice perhaps, possibly, might indicate in some slight way the emotion “anger,” and what did I think of that?

    My favorite, favorite characters in books are the ones who lie to themselves first and above all others. They often don’t need to lie to anyone else; because they have created such a false shell of reality around their hearts that everything the shell speaks is the truth. I *love* this character like a mad thing. Okay, well, I have bias. I love her more if the character is female. But lying to oneself all the damn time is difficult. It expresses sideways, in unrelated ways, because any attempt to look at the heart of the lie reveals it. So a character angry at her parents might say inappropriately cruel things to her friends who are contemplating parenthood. Or the character who refuses to love anyone and who hides it by having a lot of sex. Etc..

    Also, I am so with you on the tired thing. Two years ago I thought I might die from tired. Turns out I was badly anemic. And hypothyroid. After getting lots of nice medicinal drugs to fix these things, I laugh about it — all the recreational drugs I like are the ones that make your body and brain move *faster*. I don’t need or want slow drugs; I want the things that make me feel awake, like I can think. But I still went ahead and quit caffeine. Sigh.

    • I do kind of remember that breakup. 😉 And I’m glad that I got to know you better afterward. You had always struck me as so special.

      One of my strongest therapy moments was when my therapist pointed out that I was passively suicidal. (And she was right.) I was horrifically depressed — alternately catatonic and manic. And in complete denial — until she pointed out the above. Which was just what I needed to get myself turned around. (Sometimes think I’m just damn lucky I didn’t accidentally die at that point.)

      Writing a character who is lying to herself has been interesting. I’ve spent so many years breaking out of that it’s more difficult. I am loving watching her become true to herself, and stop the lies.

      I should probably have my iron levels checked. I was anemic as a kid, and my dad suffered from it all his life. And while I *love* caffeine (and am not giving it up at this point!) I also enjoy alcohol in the evenings, a glass of wine (or most often a cup of good tea.) But to write, I need the caffeine. I don’t understand how a writer can write or create on alcohol! Slows me down way too much.

  8. I’ve been actively working on recognizing when I’m angry–and letting myself fully feel said anger–the past few months. It’s funny how sneaky we can be in hiding such things from ourselves, even those of us who aren’t even-tempered in the first place.

    • Living by myself has been such a boon, to me, for feeling all those emotions. Because it’s only me I don’t hide as much, if that makes sense.

  9. i was raised to think that nice young ladies didn’t get angry. the way i dealt with it was that i turned to punk music. (yes, i was the black sheep of the family — which is laughable if you really knew how very non-black sheepy i really am.) nonetheless, i was taught to express anger through passive-agression. when i chose to be healtier, i vented my anger with angry music and angry art. it helped quite a lot. now, i suppose, i write angry stories. not a bad thing, really.

    • I was raised that way as well. And like you, I was passive-aggressive — still probably am, to some extent. My short fiction tends to be pretty dark. My longer fiction not as much, and as I express myself more in my life, I can explore lighter themes in my work.

  10. The answer used to be, no, I didn’t know. Because I was angry *all the time*, and if I examined any single part of that anger, I would — in order to be the kind of person I wanted to be — I would have to examine all of it, and that would cause me to lose something I wanted dearly. Oh, heck, Leah, I’m talking about my break up with Sam. 😛 You may recall it vaguely. In The World According To Me, that happened when I started to acknowledge my anger over things — and, in order to be the person I wanted to be, I made changes. Those changes were not compatible with my existing relationship — which was the outcome I’d feared all along.

    When I was in therapy, my therapist used to ask me how I was feeling. And then, curses on the man, he would insist I use EMOTION WORDS to describe it, not work-arounds. Not flat, blah, waiting, or :shrug:. Actual emotion words. I still find this amusing. I used to rail at him, “Flat is TOO an emotion! I know because I’m FEELING IT.” And he would point out that my raised voice perhaps, possibly, might indicate in some slight way the emotion “anger,” and what did I think of that?

    My favorite, favorite characters in books are the ones who lie to themselves first and above all others. They often don’t need to lie to anyone else; because they have created such a false shell of reality around their hearts that everything the shell speaks is the truth. I *love* this character like a mad thing. Okay, well, I have bias. I love her more if the character is female. But lying to oneself all the damn time is difficult. It expresses sideways, in unrelated ways, because any attempt to look at the heart of the lie reveals it. So a character angry at her parents might say inappropriately cruel things to her friends who are contemplating parenthood. Or the character who refuses to love anyone and who hides it by having a lot of sex. Etc..

    Also, I am so with you on the tired thing. Two years ago I thought I might die from tired. Turns out I was badly anemic. And hypothyroid. After getting lots of nice medicinal drugs to fix these things, I laugh about it — all the recreational drugs I like are the ones that make your body and brain move *faster*. I don’t need or want slow drugs; I want the things that make me feel awake, like I can think. But I still went ahead and quit caffeine. Sigh.

    • I do kind of remember that breakup. 😉 And I’m glad that I got to know you better afterward. You had always struck me as so special.

      One of my strongest therapy moments was when my therapist pointed out that I was passively suicidal. (And she was right.) I was horrifically depressed — alternately catatonic and manic. And in complete denial — until she pointed out the above. Which was just what I needed to get myself turned around. (Sometimes think I’m just damn lucky I didn’t accidentally die at that point.)

      Writing a character who is lying to herself has been interesting. I’ve spent so many years breaking out of that it’s more difficult. I am loving watching her become true to herself, and stop the lies.

      I should probably have my iron levels checked. I was anemic as a kid, and my dad suffered from it all his life. And while I *love* caffeine (and am not giving it up at this point!) I also enjoy alcohol in the evenings, a glass of wine (or most often a cup of good tea.) But to write, I need the caffeine. I don’t understand how a writer can write or create on alcohol! Slows me down way too much.

  11. Angry, yes. Annoyed, not so much. It can take me several days to figure out what is getting under my skin and making me grouchy. Lack of B vitamins (related to hormone cycles) also makes me grouchy, so I try to not assume that there is a real triggering event.

    I strongly agree that being tired and hungry makes any kind of discussion or decision making MUCH harder. and I made a rule not to discuss difficult topics before meals or after 10pm after extensively testing the consequences of doing otherwise. My therapist in college said that sleep deprivation is the root of all evil. I’m starting to think that is more true than I want to believe.

    I can certainly push myself when I am tired. When I’ve done a lot of that or drink caffiene, I can’t tell if I’m tired or not. For these occasions I use the “Five-minute test”. Lie down in a comfortable place and close your eyes for five minutes. If you are still awake after five minutes, get up and do stuff. If you fall asleep, you were tired.

    I have not felt much jealousy. So far as I can tell, I’m not fooling myself on that. I certainly feel envy. I may envy the relationship someone else has with a person I like. I feel a lot of envy for people who get to do things I want to do. Where do you draw the line between jealousy and envy?

    • I’m not often angry or grouchy. Most of the time when it happens it is hormonal, not situational. When it’s situational, I get really wound up and then I blow — and everything’s fine. I’ve managed to find more conductive ways for blowing up, and that helps a lot.

      I get stupid when I’m hungry and my blood sugar is low. I try not to do that.

      Quite honestly, I’m still figuring out my relationship with sleep. We’re on *much* better terms since I figured out how to actually relax. (And yes, while that may sound stupid, I’m serious — I was in my mid-40s before I learned how to fully relax before going to sleep.) I sleep many more hours at night on a regular basis now, and it takes me a lot longer to wake up in the mornings. I blame most of that on age and hormones. However, I still require sleepless nights — at least once a month or so I’ll stay up most if not all of the night, and be no worse for wear the next day. As long as it’s on my schedule, it’s fine. Just trying to stay up all night long on a whim — that’s never pretty.

      I’m really good at power napping. 20 minutes, and I’m good to go. If I’ve had too much caffeine, the five minute test won’t work. I’ll still be too wired.

      When I was less secure in myself, I was jealous of the affection other people received. Now, I know that I am loved and cherished. And more importantly, accepted for who I am. As for envy, I’ve started living the life I’ve always wanted. I’m living my dream in so many ways. I am rarely, rarely envious, and I am aware of just how lucky I am.

      As for the line between them — I generally draw it between affection (jealous) and things (envy). It probably isn’t accurate, but that is how I tend to use it.

  12. Angry, yes. Annoyed, not so much. It can take me several days to figure out what is getting under my skin and making me grouchy. Lack of B vitamins (related to hormone cycles) also makes me grouchy, so I try to not assume that there is a real triggering event.

    I strongly agree that being tired and hungry makes any kind of discussion or decision making MUCH harder. and I made a rule not to discuss difficult topics before meals or after 10pm after extensively testing the consequences of doing otherwise. My therapist in college said that sleep deprivation is the root of all evil. I’m starting to think that is more true than I want to believe.

    I can certainly push myself when I am tired. When I’ve done a lot of that or drink caffiene, I can’t tell if I’m tired or not. For these occasions I use the “Five-minute test”. Lie down in a comfortable place and close your eyes for five minutes. If you are still awake after five minutes, get up and do stuff. If you fall asleep, you were tired.

    I have not felt much jealousy. So far as I can tell, I’m not fooling myself on that. I certainly feel envy. I may envy the relationship someone else has with a person I like. I feel a lot of envy for people who get to do things I want to do. Where do you draw the line between jealousy and envy?

    • I’m not often angry or grouchy. Most of the time when it happens it is hormonal, not situational. When it’s situational, I get really wound up and then I blow — and everything’s fine. I’ve managed to find more conductive ways for blowing up, and that helps a lot.

      I get stupid when I’m hungry and my blood sugar is low. I try not to do that.

      Quite honestly, I’m still figuring out my relationship with sleep. We’re on *much* better terms since I figured out how to actually relax. (And yes, while that may sound stupid, I’m serious — I was in my mid-40s before I learned how to fully relax before going to sleep.) I sleep many more hours at night on a regular basis now, and it takes me a lot longer to wake up in the mornings. I blame most of that on age and hormones. However, I still require sleepless nights — at least once a month or so I’ll stay up most if not all of the night, and be no worse for wear the next day. As long as it’s on my schedule, it’s fine. Just trying to stay up all night long on a whim — that’s never pretty.

      I’m really good at power napping. 20 minutes, and I’m good to go. If I’ve had too much caffeine, the five minute test won’t work. I’ll still be too wired.

      When I was less secure in myself, I was jealous of the affection other people received. Now, I know that I am loved and cherished. And more importantly, accepted for who I am. As for envy, I’ve started living the life I’ve always wanted. I’m living my dream in so many ways. I am rarely, rarely envious, and I am aware of just how lucky I am.

      As for the line between them — I generally draw it between affection (jealous) and things (envy). It probably isn’t accurate, but that is how I tend to use it.

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