“Modern science confirms what most of us know: negative emotions can make you ill. The neurotransmitters that fire in the brain also connect with hormones, immune cells and organs, contributing to disease and poor health. However, the news is not all bad. Just as negative emotions and attitudes can create disease, positive emotions and uplifting thoughts are able to create good health.”
My mother, Sweet Sweet Sunshine, is always angry. Always. Every day. All day. Except only rarely. She is almost always mad at who knows what all day every day. How do I know she’s angry? Well first, let’s define the word;I like the way Wikipedia defines it:
Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
synonyms: rage, vexation, exasperation, displeasure, crossness, irritation, irritability, indignation…
Based on that definition, I feel comfortable saying two things: Sunshine is angry and anger is a negative emotion.
Here’s my proof:
- It’s on her face. Her contorted, squished, frowned, furrowed, what-on-earth-could-be-that-bad face. Deeply furrowed brow; not a deep-in-thought furrow, but a look as if her frown begins at the very top of her head. Lips poked out like an angry child who was just admonished for some infraction; poked and pursed so tightly that the lines are deeper than one would think is possible in a human face. If it is possible to poke out your entire face then that’s what it is. Squinty eyes. Squinty nose, if that’s possible. It is as if she is using every muscle in her face to uber-frown. Words don’t normally fail me, yet I struggle to accurately describe the stern, knit-browed, sulky grimace that has become her face. Sunshine looks like that first thing in the morning. In the kitchen when she deep fries her meals. At dinner with my silly, chatty girls. At night before we’ve gone to bed. I do not believe that Sunshine naturally looks like that. I do not believe that one is happy at the same time that one looks like that. Her face is proof.
- It’s in her voice. Sunshine uses a tone, a volume, and vocabulary that sound angry to me. Shrill. Sometimes snarling. Sometimes snapping. Her words are biting. Constantly rebuking. Sharp. Hot. The tone is insistent. Chiding. Growling. Hissing. She is sometimes yelling; frequently whisper-yelling. And then sometimes it is as if she is just short of a complete explosion of uncontrolled hatred and vitriol.
- It’s in her body language. Sunshine is often shaking, clenching her jaws as if she is grinding her teeth, and holding her lips so tightly that they look like they might split if she released the fullness of the rage behind her words. She is often punching her fist into her other hand, pacing or moving around in a way that I think is unusual for a normal conversation. Sunshine will yell and then immediately say “I’m not yelling at you!” Sometimes even that comes out in a yell. She bangs things down onto table tops or counters. Whatever is in her hands at the time may get banged: remotes, newspapers, junk mail, pens…
- Sunshine has admitted being angry. Not often. Not consistently. But I do remember saying to her during one of her ambush tirades (I’ll explain another time) that she seemed to be angry about something all the time. Her response at that time was, “I am angry! I’m freaking mad!” I don’t remember what I had done that time. Doesn’t matter. I was wrong, she was right, and she was going to tell me just how awful I am. Was. Whatever.
- Here’s the bit of proof that I hate to admit. Lynn, my dear co-writer and sister, will tell you that I have struggled to write about this because it’s so… I don’t know what it is. Let me just get to it: Sunshine, on a daily basis (daily!), has a screaming-reaming-out session with… Doesn’t matter. No one else is in the room when she’s telling them off.
Her volume is loud. Loud enough to be heard at night when the house is quiet from my bedroom on the top floor of my house when she is in her bedroom on the lower level of my house. My husband and I listen and worry; but we’ve also grown so accustomed to hearing it that it’s like a distant train or other ignorable background noise. I can hear her when she is in the kitchen alone and I am anywhere else in the house. If she “cleans” my children’s bedrooms (long story: she doesn’t clean, she snoops and then uses her intel to correct my parenting and the rooms remain messy), I can hear her while she works.
And then, other times when she knows I’m close by, she whisper-yells these… conversations? She will keep going until she sees that I am looking at her, and then she stops as if nothing at all was happening. Nothing to see here! Sometimes, in those moments, she will act super-happy to see me, as if that’s normal and I will forget what I just heard and saw. If I ask “Mom, who are you talking to?” She will lie in one of many forms. I’ll have to get to that another time.
Sunshine is screaming at… someone… about what they did and didn’t do right by her. She is telling them how they disappoint and reflect badly on her. She is pausing on occasion as if someone is responding to her and then she fires back at that… person? She is as animated and vocal as if someone is really there and also as if her judgment is perfect. It is confusing. Unnerving. Troubling. A little scary. When I lived in the City, if I saw a person walking down the street talking to themselves (pre-bluetooth headset), I would get a little scared and try to avoid that person; I certainly didn’t make eye contact. That’s the feeling I get when Sunshine starts her… what the hell do you call this?!
I do not know.