Friday, February 10, 2006

Anger Management

I think that -- if I could have -- I would have put my fist right through the computer screen today. Smashing something would have been nice. The absolute bottled up rage within me today was foreign, though once-upon-a-time... before mommy-hood and wife-dome and jobish-ness...

No, dear reader, I'm not sugar and spice and everything nice.

It doesn't pay much to be very nice. Really, it's rather expensive. Little girls who learn how to wear pink and bake cakes and rear their baby dolls are darling little things. Ornaments in training. Oh, don't worry. I'm not some ranting stereotypical feminist. I've no intention of burning a bra anytime soon.

My father is dead. I watched him die. I held my breath and wished it would end. It did, of course. It always does. But you know what? The obvious happened: I changed.

My childhood training to be a mother and wife is still with me, but several of the lessons on being nice somehow got lost along the way. I've decided that I don't have to be nice if it means biting my tongue and trying not to hurt feelings -- not when the price is my sense of self and selling my person to the lowest bidder.

While I'm nice enough to hide the details and protect privacy, I'll tell you this much: I no longer feel the need to be nice to people when they are wrong. If you are rude enough to answer your cell phone during a lecture, if while in public you behave in a way inappropriate for my son to witness, or if you find your personal conversations in the classroom more important then your fellow students' desire to learn, I don't have to be nice to you. I'm allowed to speak up for myself. I'm allowed to yell.

It's hard to remember sometimes.

I haven't yelled -- justly or unjustly -- in at least five years. Can you imagine? Standing up for myself was a challenge when the person was older and supposedly wiser. After all, I was trained to be nice. To respect my elders.

And what did it get me, anyway?

An ethics professor once talked to us about the differences between raising boys and girls. It was a fascinating class, because it articulated what I sensed but had never thought much about until then. We females are taught to live on this level playing field. We're supposed to get along, to play nice. Don't make others cry and all that jazz. Share your baby dolls and play house or shopping or make some little cakes in your Easy Bake Oven.

While we were inside pondering potholder kits and dressing Barbie up so that Ken would like her, our brothers were outside beating the hell out of each other so that they could win whatever versus game they were playing. Cowboys versus Indians. Cops versus Robbers. Good Guys versus Bad Guys. You name it, there was some sort of conflict.

It soon enough graduated to the courts and fields in the form of sports. More "versus" games while we learned how to shake our pom-poms and roll our skirts. We didn't talk to the girls we didn't like or who were mean to us. That would have caused waves. Someone might have cried and someone else would have been at fault. She would have been called mean.

So at what price comes nice? The world I grew up in taught me that females were valued for what we did to care for others -- but don't get me wrong, I'm not decrying that. I'm protesting the bookend lessons, the effects of those causes. My world did not teach me how to care for myself very well, if at all. I learned by accident, by watching my mother spend my youth being everything she wanted herself to be for us and nothing for herself. We had a few moments where she'd lose her temper and vow to quit being the mother she forced herself to be, but my brother and I never believed her. She never followed through anyway. That wasn't part of her training, I guess. On that gnarled family tree of ours, it was my generation of daughters that went to college. Not hers. Then again, my mother is someone who wanted nothing more then to be a wife and mother. Not me.

And thus the urge to break something. I didn't, of course. Not me. Instead I closed shop, logged off of the computer, and went home. The good girl.

Oh, reader, don't fear. I have my therapy like everyone one: I write.

Someone one remarked to me that being able to delete a blog entry is a pretty good perk. Other writers put their words onto paper, leaving them to last forever. So here's my question to that: if I put my soul into print, and then I delete it, am I denying that side of me exists? And should I? Is it better to edit for the world to think well of me, or is it better to be me?

1 comment:

Chantel said...

I totally get you. The moment I became pregnant, "nice in the face of stupidity" flew out the window. Think lioness and cub, and you get the idea.

Can't answer that last question. Way too deep for someone on 3 hours of sleep:)