06/27/18

You Do You

On Female Rage: The Moment My Anger Made Me Proud

By: Cristina Schreil

 

It took a hellish afternoon to realize that my temper wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

 

When I first visited Amsterdam, I found a city sparkling with charm. My cousin showed me winding canals that flooded with swans at twilight — far from the wilder Amsterdam I’d heard about from other college students. I was excited to bring my friend Emily there later that month. It was Queen’s Day, a holiday where everyone wears orange and the city brims with open-air festivities. People packed the streets and canals, but we didn’t anticipate how the revelry would warp into chaos. It wasn’t long before we got lost. The sun beating, we trudged ahead through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd that seemed to stretch for miles. I saw two parents pushing a stroller through the pulsing hoard. The child’s tiny shoes kicked up plastic cups and crushed beer cans. While everyone around us danced through the streets, finding nothing wrong with the disorder, I felt claustrophobia setting in. 

 

It didn’t help that I was suppressing my emotions. Weeks earlier, I had a falling out with a friend. After getting increasingly peeved with her, I snapped. A mature conversation would’ve fixed it. Instead, I let flow a flood of vitriol and did irreparable damage. This was a pattern — one that many find surprising. In new situations, I am calm and cautious, analyzing before revealing my true self. But I wasn’t always this subdued. As a toddler, I was a terror. I was pure id, a tiny Hulk in Velcro sneakers. In preschool, becoming so enraged at a girl who took the tire swing, I punched her in the face, cleaving her glasses in two. I would kick parents like an unbroken horse when it was time to leave the playground. Once, aghast that my brother got to choose a television show, I whipped the remote at his face. 

 

My parents were alarmed, facing a daughter who was mostly pleasant but drew blood without flinching. This wasn’t how people acted. This definitely wasn’t how girls, who should be helpful and kind, behaved. As I grew up, it wasn’t their discipline that restrained my behavior; it was my own shame. I surfaced from rage bouts embarrassed. Sometimes I’d wonder what came over me, a la Dr. Jekyll. My remorse intensified when I realized that, truly, I had nothing to be angry about. Other women I’ve met did have to get mad, out of protection. All I didn’t get was my way. Why couldn’t I control myself?

 

By the time I was in college, I learned to bottle my temper – or so I thought. I’d gotten so used to tamping things down out of fear, like sparks that could trigger a wildfire. But sometimes my anger would bubble up, often worse than if I’d just acknowledged my feelings in the first place.

 

On Queen’s Day, I couldn’t stop thinking about my recent friendship breakup. I replayed the fallout, berating myself. With Emily, I was hyper-conscious of not being aggressive. But, as the crowd closed in, it was hard to center. I stared straight ahead, miserable. Naturally, this attracted people. One man teased us, poking with an inflatable orange stick. Others hit on us, and cat calling is hard to escape when you’re moving at a snail’s pace. I wanted to scream. But, I knew I would be ashamed afterward if I melted down in public.

 

The universe sensed this. Out from my peripherals arose some man — pants halfway down — who went too far. He grabbed Emily and leaned in close. “You have such beautiful eyes,” he said as Emily froze. We tried to escape, but he held on, repeating himself and slurring “eyes” into separate syllables. Nope! How dare you I thought. Calling up my rage, I pushed. Hard. My hand struck his chest as I hollered “No!” The force of my yell felt amazing. He disappeared into the crowd. My body looser, I had a clarifying second to regroup. My anger wasn’t whiny. And wow, I also didn’t care that it was unattractive to bark as a woman. “Move!” I commanded the crowd. “We have to get through!” I kept pushing, amazed that the mob parted. For once, I was angry — but I wasn’t ashamed of how I acted. After years of trying – and sometimes failing – to control my temper, I had finally experienced a release that was positive.

 

I realized years later, after more life experience, how informative this was. Until that day, I had lost sight of the reality that anger is, sometimes, a necessary fuel. Now, I balk at my younger self. Of course I felt angry! Who wouldn’t be upset, getting harassed in a claustrophobic parade? That day, I learned how to discern my unnecessary temper from a more powerful, justified rage. I saw consciously in the moment that I needed my anger, and that it can be focused and purposeful — a tool and an asset to be proud of.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cristina Schreil is an award-winning journalist with clips in The New York Times, Psychology Today, Hello Giggles, Roads & Kingdoms, xoJane, Acoustic Guitar, Strings, and more. See more at cristinaSchreil.com.

 

share this article



you might also like

How I Learned To Lean On Other New Mothers

A lesson in first-time motherhood and matrescence.

On Female Rage: The Moment My Anger Made Me Proud

Acknowledging that we get *pissed* can be uncomfortable, but one woman learned that, sometimes, her temper is her greatest asset.

Unpacking My Choice To Not Have Kids

I didn’t have children. And I don’t regret it.

How I Learned That My Bladder Gets Tired, Too

The Fast and Furious ...minus the illegal street racing and crazy heists, but plus the sprints to the restroom.

How Cooking Helped Me Peel Away Self-Doubt

"Rejection had me questioning my sanity..."

How I Saved Myself From A Sweaty Situation

"Sweat began pouring off of me like a faucet. It was even running down my legs which made it look like I was peeing myself!"

Why You Should Please Yourself on Valentine's Day ❤️

Don't ever be ashamed of showing yourself love.

When Motherhood Didn't Match My Picturesque Pregnancy

There isn't an Instagram filter glowy enough to hide the realities of being a mom.

Grieving My Grandmother Through Gifts She Left Behind

Her love is everywhere.

Why I Never Went Camping with My Husband Again

When you gotta go in the wild, not even the fear of a bear can get in your way.

Lessons in Bravery and Batwings

"What’s wrong with skipping through the f*cking sprinklers?"

DIY Crafts for the Non-Pinterest Pro

You won't buy overpriced soaps and candles again.

The Sisterhood of the Bar Bathroom

Sol-dar-i-pee is ageless. 💦

A Nurse's Gushing Ode to Her Job

There are priceless perks to loving your work.

Southernmost Exposure

This brave woman didn't let a full bladder dampen her Florida Keys adventure.

Dear Sheilah: On (Mom)umental (Mom)ents

When the *mothership* hits the fan, Sheilah's got answers.

Can Changing Your Footwear Change Your Mood?

The great Crocs debate.

Dear Sheilah: On Painful Politics

When partisan issues become parental pain points.

Meet Our Models

Our (pee-proof) underwear models aren't new to disrupting the status quo. 

New Year, New Pelvic Floor Gear! 🎉

Self-care splurges to lessen your urges.

Dear Sheilah: On Saving Moolah

You can't spend what you don't see. 💰

Dear Sheilah: On Grooming

Hate haircuts? Procrastinate pedicures? Forgo facials?

Dear Sheilah: Wanderlust, Cheating & The Language of Love

"I was brainwashed into this whole 'marriage' thing. I was Betty Crocker with a joint."

Dear Sheilah: On Self-Sabotage, Raising Daughters & Callings

"...but then I remembered I had hidden a Magic Mushroom."

Dear Sheilah: On Hindsight, Granny Mistresses, and Superpowers

Sheilah flips the script by giving advice to her 25 year-old self.

Dear Sheilah: The Good, The Bad & The Healthy

Alright stop, collaborate, and listen. Sheilah's back w/ a brand new edition.

Dear Sheilah: On Guilt, Anxiety & Excitement

Golden showers of wisdom from a non-certified advice giver.

Bra lala lala!: A Roundtable Discussion on Bras

Over the shoulder bolder holder: oppressive tit-sling or breast friend?

Introducing: Dear Sheilah

If Dear Abby looked like a Real Housewife and toked up like Cheech and Chong. 

My Body Can

An homage to our weird and wonderful bods.

Pickin' Up Good Vibes - Postpartum Intimacy

With only 5 days left in May, our National Masturbation Month post is a real buzzer beater (heh).

A Fresh-Faced Feminist - Feminism & Plastic Surgery

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Even when it's your mother.

Self-Care as a Single Mom

In the midst of all the hustling, self-care is salvation.

Get Your Freak On

I wanted to be pumped up when push literally came to shove and I was expelling a human out of my vagina.