By Megan Wildhood
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but it makes me angry when people don’t mean what they say. It makes me angry when people think I should be okay with broken promises and unkept commitments. I am not. I will not be. And I will not apologize for my “high standards.” Without integrity, there is no basis for communication, let alone accountability and responsibility.
It makes me angry that people think “obligation” is a dirty word everyone should be free from. An entire industry called “self help” profits from people’s fear of accountability. Here’s all the self-help you need: take responsibility for your shit, mean what you say and follow through.
It makes me angry when I tell people about a difficulty I’m having with another person and they try to guess what the others involved are thinking instead of listening to ME, the person right in front of them.
This idea that I’d be less angry, less hurt if only I knew what the other person is thinking, makes me angry.
False peace makes me angry.
Dismissing the responsibility to call a spade a spade by saying “there are two sides to every story” makes me angry. There may be two sides, or multiple sides; it does not mean they are all correct.
It makes me angry when people say “reach out,” and “you are not alone.” Are you willing to be reached out to, to show up to prove someone isn’t alone? If not, shut up. Do not refer the people you claim are your friends to the suicide hotline. Do not ask them what they are doing to take care of themselves. Show up or shut up.
It makes me angry when someone professes to treasure me and then doesn’t work to patch things up when something goes awry in our relationship. It makes it hard to believe what they say about caring so much about me and empty words make me angry. As does being blamed for having “trust issues.”
Denial makes me angry. It makes me angry when my anger is viewed as the problem.
I’m angry that my anger, because I’m female, makes me unlikable, a bitch. If I were male, I’d be powerful; telling it like it is would win me friends, fame, a damn presidential race.
I’m angry that the main thing about female anger is still “making space,” giving permission. I don’t want or need anyone’s permission to be angry. I want to be heard, understood. More than than, I want things to change, damn it, not a pat on the head and a gold star for “letting it all out.”
It makes me angry that “venting” is believed to sufficiently deal with anger.
“Baby steps” make me angry. Evil and darkness take as much as they want and yet, goodness settles for “a step in the right direction?” Enough of that noise.
“I’m busy” makes me angry. You’re not a victim of your schedule. You make time for what you value. I’m angry that there will be, as there always is, colossal pushback on this. I’m not going to listen to it anymore.
It makes me angry that anger is demoted to a “second-level” emotion, as if it’s not as valid as sadness. What I “really” feel is anger, actually. Anger all the way down. My smoldering despair is not underneath my anger; it is a separate entity entirely.
I am angry when people, professionals or otherwise, tell me the structure of my own soul and still believe they’re helping. There is no amount of reading you can do, licenses you can get, or letters you can put after your name that exempts you from listening to me about my own experience.
It makes me angry that I can (maybe, if I’m lucky, if I don’t do it in a loud voice) vouch for my own experience until the instant I become a victim.
We don’t refer to each other as angels or believe each other is perfect until we die in mass shootings. That makes me angry.
It makes me angry that, when I want help – that is connection with others that doesn’t demand I contort myself for their comfort, belonging, relationship – I am referred to professionals who don’t let me define what counts as helpful and, because I am female, don’t take my pain as seriously as they would if I had an extra appendage between my legs, diagnose me with personality disorders if I’m honest about my feelings and require that I give up power in order to be “served.” This system – both the mental-health system and the culture that abdicates the worthy calling of friendship, handing it over to “experts” and “professionals” – is bananas.
It makes me angry that one of the most dangerous things you can do is be female in this world. That the misogyny, double standards, abuse, oppression, consumption and diminishment inflicted on women without end can be pointed out over and over and over again and yet, when powerful men are accused of sexual assault, everyone starts to worry about their career, their feelings, how this will affect their lives. That the hand-wringing at “the fall of men” is taken more seriously than the battered bodies and spirits of women humans.
It makes me mad that ‘madness’ means ‘crazy,’ especially if you’re female. It’s like there is no legitimate way to express anger.
Megan Wildhood is a writer, scuba diver and social worker at a crisis center in Seattle, WA. Her essays, interviews, poetry or fiction have appeared, among other publications, in The Atlantic, The Sun, Yes! Magazine and America Magazine. Long Division, a poetry chapbook ruminating on sororal estrangement and meeting the challenges of growing up, was released by Finishing Line Press in September 2017 and she’s currently working on a novel. You can learn more at meganwildhood.com.