About a decade ago I went through a series of personal and professional crises that turned my world upside down. In the course of that time a few people brought harm in a variety of forms to me and my family, and I developed a case of righteous indignation over events beyond my ability to control.
In one sense I lived something of a charmed life in my first three decades on this Earth, and I found myself ill-equipped to cope with major stressors. I had never experienced, for example, the death of a close relative, had never been fired from a job, and virtually every goal I set for myself I achieved.
Life, however, has a way of evening these things out.
In my anger I allowed myself to engage in the visualization of violent forms of retribution, usually involving the swinging of a Louisville Slugger at the sources of my rage. I did not want to commit murder, but I sure felt the urge to pay back a dose of the pain that I felt, delivered via polished ash to the rib cage of my enemies.
No Freudian analysis here, please. :-}
Yet at the same time this seething inner wrath took its toll, as I began to engage in unhealthy means of handling my resentment, not the least of which was using alcohol to temporarily extinguish the misery. Over time I also developed bleeding ulcers, which put me into this bizarre cycle that went something like this: depletion of red blood cells → headache → aspirin → more bleeding ulcers → more red blood cell depletion. It got to the point that my hemoglobin level fell to 6.9 gm/dl, which was less than half the red blood cells in a healthy adult male.
All due to my difficulties in coping with crises.
So I write this post, not to wallow in bygone miseries, but to reach out to readers who might be struggling with this same sort of destructive fury. There is much to be said for letting go of the anger, and actually forgiving those who have brought you harm. Moreover, from personal experience I can attest to the fact that holding on to deep resentments - no matter how justifiable - only serves to degrade your physical health and warp your mental outlook.
Do I still get angry? Most certainly. Are there moments when I think of these old sources of pain? Sure. The difference is that today I avoid letting anger run my life and dominate my thinking, and I recognize that walking around with pent-up rage over dormant, buried events is both unproductive and unhealthy.
Move on, friend, and let go of the anger before it eats away at you.