I don’t know how to be angry. That seems such a ridiculous thing to say out loud and even more absurd to see typed because I feel angry a good deal of the time. As anyone other than my mom or my partner will attest, I am nice Nic. I have always been nice, polite, and non-violent: outwardly. I learned when I was 12 that anger was unacceptable so I turned all my rage inwards. I wasn’t aiming for myself originally, just tucking it away from prying eyes. But somewhere I lost track of it all and found comfort in self-destruction. Soon, I tucked all my own emotions away relying on my reason and intelligence to steer me through. But I am an emotional animal as much as I am a rational being and had to find an outlet besides self-loathing for the abundance of emotions I was experiencing. So I developed the one quality the church and my parents would approve of, empathy. So much so that there were times in my life where I could clearly understand and commiserate with the pain of others, even those that hurt me, while not even being able to name what I was feeling myself. Frustration. It was the only thing other than happiness I was able to clearly register. To this day I’m not sure that it is even an emotion or a state of being. Impotence would probably be a better word.
I constructed myself out of religious dogma and codes of conduct but was villainized for paying too close attention. Mixed signals, earnest and innocent questions into my faith were met with anger and recriminations. I had accepted young that I would never have the approval of my peers, sans my all too brief times at camp, but this was meant to be offset by the approval of adults. When that was denied I felt like I was drifting. In many ways I twisted myself into knots for if not approval but the acceptance of those in authority. Yet, their word was never enough to quench my skepticism, only my behavior. For all my insecurities and need for acceptance, I somehow had confidence in my own understandings and in my own differences as valid.
I went to St. Anselm grade school. The irony and prophetic nature of this would be lost on me for decades. The irony being that for a school whose namesake was a well known philosopher and theologian bristled at the idea that a student could question what they were meant to simply digest and regurgitate. This, more than anything led to the dismantling of the church in my mind and began a journey of philosophical skepticism that has both threatened to tear me apart at times and yet as allowed to see clearly enough to keep me sane.