Tuesday, November 27, 2007

sad mad men terror prove*

There are some choices that no-one wants to have to make. When the black-coated highwayman rides up beside your carriage and, pointing his pistol at your head, snarls "your money or your life," neither option sounds particularly appealing. But, even when both alternatives are bad, one is often pretty clearly less bad than the other. And when I find myself forced to choose between sadness and anger, I almost always opt for sadness.

The astute and insightful Slouching Mom has pointed out that sorrow can be anger in disguise, anger turned inward. But for me, there's a big difference between the two. I'm fairly confident of my ability to manage sadness, to reason with it, soothe it, rock it to sleep. Anger, on the other hand, makes me feel small and powerless, as if I'm screaming in an empty room or reenacting Canute's struggles with the tide. To me, anger feels futile in a way that sorrow doesn't, a battle that you've lost before you even start to fight. Because when it's you against the world, the smart money's on the world.

So, sadness or anger -- assuming you have to feel one of the two, which one would you prefer? And why?




*A mnemonic we learned in middle school to help us keep track of which French verbs require être as the auxiliary verb when forming the past tense.

45 comments:

Patti said...

I don't know which one I'd rather be. I guess it depends. Is it anger which I can channel into changing something or making a difference? Or is it the helpless, out of control anger that leaves you standing there screaming at the futility of it all? If that's it...then I'd rather be sad.

akeeyu said...

I'd rather be angry, because you can make something out of anger. Sadness, however, is a shitty raw material.

Lori said...

I am a little afraid of my own power when I am angry. Not good power. Destructive power.

Sad is more familiar. Sad is passive. Sad passes.

thailandchani said...

I always had more of an anger-based personality because that somehow directs it outward. Anger can be directed.. to a cause, to an activity. If I get POed enough, exercise always helps. Deep sadness seems debilitating.

Not that I haven't experienced it since I take medicine for clinical depression ~ but that kind of sadness doesn't go anywhere. It festers.

Zee said...

Anger, definitely. Sadness feels too much like self-erasure or helplessness to me. Although it sucks to be angry, when I am, I still feel like I exist and have some agency--even if I only use that agency to kick walls and say stupid things. (Like I did just last night, as a matter of fact.)

slouching mom said...

anger.

did you see the cool map that goes along with the poll? we can find out if there are regional differences in negative emotion preference.

i sniff a dissertation topic in the air, lol!

Julia said...

I picked sad, and that is mostly true. But there are times when I can use the anger to kick some butt. Usually of an ignorant idiot who says stupid shit. But other times, most times, anger is going to make me do things that are not useful. Not at all. Sad I can have a drink with. Anger, on the other hand, is a bad drunk. Not that it comes around often.

DD said...

I also chose anger (which I find interesting that most of the commenters have said "Angry", but the current poll indicates the majority are "Sad" which follows the idea that Lori said, which is Sadness if passive).

The reason I chose angry is because Anger can get me out of the bed in the morning. Anger tells those around me to "step off". Anger is a vibration I can give off, whereas sadness if a vacumm that sucks it in.

Coggy said...

Anger
I'm with dd, I find it more productive I can use anger to get things done. When I'm sad all the time I don't do jack.

bubandpie said...

I'm good at sad - but anger leaves me feeling drained and helpless. I'll take sad any day over anger.

ms. G said...

I voted sad, but it isn't that I would rather be sad, it is that I don't do anger very well. Sadly, I am a typical woman, anger doesn't tend to sit well with me. and seriously, Niobe, the phrase you used, "screaming in an empty room" describes it perfectly to me. Sadness/anger get all tangled up for me. Often, when I appear sad, there is truly much anger there too.

Beruriah said...

I chose sadness, because well, while anger hurts less, it leads me to say and do things I might regret. Also, I'll inevitably end up sad after being angry.

Suz said...

This suddenly reminded me of the Sopra.nos episode where Dr. Me.lfi said "depression is anger turned inward." The two emotions always seemed to make sense to me as halves of a whole. Some people are more comfortable with one; some, with the other.

Bon said...

i chose anger, but with reservations. because anger in the end often DOES leave me feeling powerless and small. but it energizes the hurt that would otherwise manifest as sadness alone...and therefore keeps the sadness from swallowing me whole.

Magpie said...

Like Suz quoting a TV show, my shrink used to say that depression was anger turned inward. I fall into that camp.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i kept insisting to my therapist that i was angry. and worried about that anger. she suggested that i wans't really angry and that underneath my anger was a whole lot of sadness. i would always start crying after that, so maybe she was right.
and since she dtermined me 'cured' and kicked my out of therapy (i know WTF?) i do feel a lot less angry. and sad.
i still haven't answered your question. i think i'd like to feel niether. it's like wanting to be too hot or too cold, or vice versa.they're both bad.

LAS said...

Well, you already know the answer to this question, but I'll comment anyway. Anger - for sure. I find it empowering, whereas sadness makes me feel hopeless and I don't know what to do with that. Anger allows me to take care of myself in stituations I think, whereas sadness sends me back begging to be hurt again.

christina(apronstrings) said...

good grief with the spelling errors! i shouldn't be commenting when i have clients waiting. (for shame!)

vixanne wigg said...

I choose sadness. People don't blame you for being sad. But nobody likes an angry woman.

Sara said...

Any intense anger I feel eventually turns to sadness because I feel shitty about being so angry. I picked 'sad' because why not cut out the middle man?

painted maypole said...

i think i move past sadness more quickly than i get past anger, although often they are linked together

LawMommy said...

I'd rather be sad. Anger makes me feel powerless.

(Indidentally, we had "Dr. and Mrs. Vandertramp" as our mnemonic for the etre verbs...we always called them the "Vandertramp" verbs...I'm not kidding you when I tell you that I woke up this morning from a dream of trying to properly conjugate them...perhaps the moon is in some kind of French house today...)

Anns said...

I'll take anger any day over sadness because it's easier to get over. Sadness lingers, anger usually wanes some when you throw things, break things or take it out on other people.

C. said...

I chose sad, but outwardly I would want to project mad. In my mind, sad says "Pity me". Mad says "Back off". I would prefer to engage in self-pity, while the world just backs off.

Heather said...

Sadness. For similar reasons to you: sadness is more manageable; it's (for me) a peaceful, still emotion; an emotion you can sit still with. Anger, or in my case choking, desperate rage, is in my case a manifestation of anxiety. It took me years and several bouts of depression to figure this out.

Christine said...

anger.

for me i can control my anger. direct it. use it to take action, and i am usually pretty good at controlling my anger and not getting irrational.

but sorrow--it drowns me.

Betty M said...

I went for anger. Sometimes I feel as if I am always angry at something - perhps I just prefer flailing futilely against the world rather than accepting stuff is the way it is.

Kami said...

My therapist gave me the advice once that since sadness and anger are often two sides of the same coin, when I am sick of one I can choose the other.

Anger at least gets me moving. Sadness leaves me on the couch staring at the wall. Anger can get me out of the house and marching down the street.

Bethann said...

I chose angry, though I think I am more often sad. But sad feels more hopeless, like I'm really wanting to just give up. More lonely, somehow. And anger - well, even if my rage is futile, at least I have some kind of idea in my head that some sort of change and forward motion is possible for me.

Which Box said...

I chose sadness. Anger always seems to backfire - lashing out at others. Part of the posting from the other day. I can take the lashing out at myself. And if I'm sad, and lashing myself, that means someone else isn't receiving it.

Anonymous said...

I picked anger too ... like DD said it gets me out of bed.

Tash said...

Anger. (And wow, is this a close vote or what.) Anger can spur me to do something: write a letter, mouth off, make a nasty phone call, scream, run, break. And then I feel a wee bit better. Sadness depletes me of energy and makes me want to do absolutely nothing -- maybe I don't know how to resolve it? So I end up sitting in a puddle of it for a while. I'm not good with sad.

Karen said...

so odd. I get mad more often - and that seems like the cover to me - because when that blows over I discover I am exhausted and lonely - sad, really. I always prefer to have the real feeling over the cover story- no matter which way the wind blows.

meg said...

I would like anger, please. But that's because I think I might be almost incapable of feeling anger. I do feel incredible guilt though, and perhaps that's anger turned inward?

Waiting Amy said...

Anger. As has been said, anger makes me move, do, act. Yes, there are sometimes casualties, but I prefer it. Sadness is paralyzing. And when it is gone I don't feel any difference in my life. But with anger and action, there is some kind of change.

melissa said...

Ahger. Because, as someone else already said, sadness is passive.

Angela said...

I'd rather be sad.
I'm more afraid of my anger than my sadness. Also, after being angry and exploding, I usually feel guilty for the loss of control.

Julie Pippert said...

Sorrow feels like a deep well to fall down.

I prefer angry. Angry makes me realize I need to do something differently. Anger makes me empower myself, change, do differently and work to better.

Anger is familiar and comfortable, which is not always a good thing, but I try to make it so.

Julie
Using My Words

Sarah said...

anger is more fleeting to me, something to get out of one's system. sadness hurts, and is a place where it's easier to become stuck.

Lori said...

I'm with you. I'd rather ride out sorrow than have to deal with anger. I'm not good at anger. I'm pretty good at sad.

kate said...

I find it very difficult to actually feel anger. When i do feel it, it is explosive because i have no inner mechanism for dealing with it when it comes so strong. (Hence, breaking dishes & the like). But usually, like you, anger is futile to me. Anger at *what*? My anger will not change anything.

I think depression, rather than sadness, is often unexpressed anger. I think many of my own depressions stem from this...

Amelie said...

Anger, I think. When I'm sad, I just want to be left alone. Anger can give me power, though I have to be careful that I use it right.

Furrow said...

I prefer anger because it's active, and it feels like it can have some resolution. But I rarely feel that I deserve to be angry at anyone but myself. And that is always just another face of sadness.

Lisa b said...

I tend to feel anger but I have realised what you write here - that it makes me feel powerless. So I am trying to embrace sorrow when it can help me to heal.

Emily R said...

I turn my anger outwards too often. I wish I could feel more at home in my sadness.