I was watching Knocked Up (because I actually have terrible taste in movies and love that one) and when Debbie says, “You just think because you don’t yell, you’re not mean…but this is mean“, my gut dropped. Ouch. That hit home for me…
Let me back up.
I am a gold medal yeller. I get riled up fairly easily, and am eager to engage when I feel slighted. When I’m angry, there’s no doubt about my anger: I wear it on my sleeve, alongside the heart that resides there.
All my life, I’ve been made to feel incredibly guilty for my anger. I threw tantrums as a kid, and was called “bad”. I fought with partners, and I don’t back away from debates. In most cases I was shut down, I was often told I was irrational and crazy, as though my reactions were unwarranted and out of control.
What I was seeking was engagement, but I got none. Some people wear disengagement with pride, as though restraint is superior to expression. I’ve felt guilty for expressing feelings, when often it was so one-sided, but as it happens, I think that hiding feelings is actually more cruel.
Feelings are a lot like farts… you can try to keep them in, but eventually they force their way out, and are often far more disruptive than if you’d just let them out when you first felt them.
I’ve done enough dating to know how most people react to anyone who expresses anger/displeasure/frustration — we’re crazy, right? Wrong.
I’m so over people who are afraid of the spectrum of emotions. Happiness 24/7 is impossible. Tough times are par for the course, and if someone can’t express every feeling, to me, that’s being emotionally crippled and I don’t have time for that anymore.
I no longer feel less-than for expressing my anger. I’m not mean, I’m not a name-caller, and I am far from abusive, but I’m also not afraid to speak up when I’m feeling sad or mad. When my fuse reaches its end, that’s it. I’m going to express frustration, and sometimes that means raising my voice. It doesn’t make me mean.
In the movie, that line gut-punched me because people have often thought I am a bitch, when the reality is that I just lay my feelings on the table, I stand up for myself (and those I care about), and I’m not afraid to engage. I feel all my feelings in a big way.
I will not feel mean for expressing my hurt any longer.
Just because I yell, doesn’t mean I’m mean. And just because someone doesn’t yell doesn’t mean they’re not mean.