I want to throat punch a bitch through the screen and I don't know what to do with that
Can we talk about anger?
I don't know about you…
But my mom didn't show me how to do anger in a way that worked for her.
She either completely collapsed and turned away. Resulting in bitterness, resentment, and physical breakdowns (think: vacations ending up at emergency).
As kids, we'd often comfort her while she cried in a secluded corner of the house.
We'd find her.
Also, no shade, my kids sometimes comfort me when I'm crying and they're the best.
She'd completely flip the fuck out and be called an “hysterical bitch” by my dad who yelled at her in reply and at twice the volume (“hysterische trut” in Dutch).
I don't blame them.
Anger is hard.
Or rather, anger is hard to do well.
And I may or may not have pushed Keith into the kitchen corner screaming at him only a few days ago, so maybe I take after my mom and dad (eldest daughter syndrome: accidentally taking on both your parents' worst traits lol).
And I notice to this day…
I'll try to give a measured and “right” response (when this happens in email I'll think about it for way too fucking long), and come across as someone who tries to avoid conflict (think: not wanting to let a team member hear my voice, so I don't reply to their Voxer).
But here's what's really going on:
I'm not a conflict avoider.
I want to throat punch a bitch through the screen and I don't know what to do with myself and my volatile urges.
So I do an awkward “let's see if I can control myself” dance until I can the fuck out of there.
Often, instead of hurting others, I hurt myself.
Extreme insomnia and worrying.
To the point of sometimes suicidal ideation (as a result of unprocessed anger and sleep deprivation). Sort of, like, “I want to slash someone, it's not acceptable to go and slash someone else, so I guess there you have your answer”,
If someone does something particularly shitty, I can still have violent daydreams years later.
Yes, I fantasize :-)
And again, just like my dad… I remember to this day that when I was just together with Keith, we went to Holland for a visit and my dad insisted on watching this extremely gruesome Spanish art movie with multiple chapters in which one, or both people killed each other. He snickered and laughed throughout the entire show.
Keith gave me side-eyes (“what the actual FUUUUUCK?!”).
The denying and pushing it back until it has no place to go but against myself?
I'm done with that.
Also, I now have a team that supports me in figuring this out.
We've been talking a lot this week about “how do we know that you're angry?”, and creating emotional safety for me, and us, to say, “I feel really angry right now, and I'm not sure what to do with that”.
Up until a few days ago, I felt that knowing how to navigate anger just yet, was unacceptable as a leader of a company.
But guess what… I don't have all the answers.
I really fucking don't.
And I don't think I ever will.
Honestly, I don't think anyone does.
I feel deep gratitude to my leadership mentor Jade Connelly-Duggan, who is doing this work with me and every person in my business.
To help me see that this is even an option.
On a call we had all together on Wednesday, I cried.
I cried in front of everyone including our brand new Executive Assistant (lol).
And I said it, in full humility:
“I'm trying my very best, and then I hope nobody will ever tell me I didn't do a good job, because when they do, I sort of break… it means I failed”.
Not knowing how to navigate anger felt like failing.
But for the sake of everyone whose livelihood is connected to my ability to lead?
I'm just going to say it.
I don't know yet how to do this well.
And here's how you know I'm struggling.
The beautiful thing?
Some of my team members stepped up and are now teaching me. Our program director gave me some awesome sentences I can start working with.
Why does all of this matter?
Because what we're seeing on the world stage, is just a ripple effect of kids growing up with parents who also didn't know how to navigate intense feelings.
Maybe their parents stopped talking.
And the tense silence that echoes around the world when they threaten with nuclear war reminds them of home.
Maybe the violence they experienced and hid from as kids feeling deeply helpless?
Makes them want to control something, anything, at any cost.
I'm not a psychologist.
And I'm certainly not condoning or forgiving unforgivable behavior.
But it does make me wonder.
What would the world look like if we learn how to do this well?
What's at stake if we don't?