I think I’m getting stronger. I may in fact be growing in my recovery from depression and anxiety and addiction.
Because I’m getting angrier more often.
For a long time, I had no temper because I never demanded respect for myself. I didn’t like myself. So whatever anyone was willing to give me was much appreciated.
But lately anger is chomping away at my insides, just like Cecilia Munoz writes about in her poignant essay “Getting Angry Can Be a Good Thing,” one of NPR’s “This, I Believe” collection of commentaries:
Anger has a way, though, of hollowing out your insides. In my first job, if we helped 50 immigrant families in a day, the faces of the five who didn’t qualify haunted my dreams at night. When I helped pass a bill in Congress to help Americans reunite with their immigrant families, I could only think of my cousin who didn’t qualify and who had to wait another decade to get her immigration papers.
It’s like that every day. You have victories but your defeats outnumber them by far, and you remember the names and faces of those who lost. I still have the article about the farm worker who took his life after we lost a political fight. I have not forgotten his name – and not just because his last name was the same as mine. His story reminds me of why I do this work and how little I can really do.
I am deeply familiar with that hollow place that outrage carves in your soul. I’ve fed off of it to sustain my work for many years. But it hasn’t eaten me away completely, maybe because the hollow place gets filled with other, more powerful things like compassion, faith, family, music, the goodness of people around me. These things fill me up and temper my outrage with a deep sense of gratitude that I have the privilege of doing my small part to make things better.
I think something is happening in the process of writing Beyond Blue, and as a result of all the work I’m doing in counseling and in recovery groups. I’m starting to think that I’m worth more than the crumbs I get in some of my relationships—that I should ask for a little more in my friendships, because the giving is a tad greater than the taking. I’m guessing that if a person insults me that I shouldn’t feel obliged to be her friend; and that my best friend (besides my husband and God) can actually be me. In fact, even if everyone woke up tomorrow and everyone—even the Starbucks barista–hated my guts, I could still treat myself with respect. Because I am owed respect.
“I believe that a little outrage can take you a long way,” Cecilia Munoz writes. Now that I’m this codependent people-pleaser is beginning to fill up her center, I can see how Munoz is right.
Outrage. That’s what I’m after. To love and believe in myself so much so that I am outraged when people treat me without respect.
To read more Beyond Blue, go to www.beliefnet.com/beyondblue, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.