Hikers look at the Harding Icefield in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park, just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Hikers look at the Harding Icefield in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park, just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up In Blue: Slowing down

I’m finding myself, more than ever, falling into bouts of anger, and it’s making me mad.

Sure, there are everyday things to be upset about. I live in an Alaska tourist town in the summer, and we call this Angry August.

But this year’s anger is different. I’m not just mumbling under my breath at the person who is parking where they definitely aren’t allowed to park. And I’m beyond rolling my eyes at the group of 10 who just snuck their way ahead of me in the coffee line.

This summer, I’m yelling at the people I care about for the most trivial reasons and feeling annoyed at the slightest inconvenience. I’m slamming my door on the world because of Afghanistan, the climate crisis, or because Disney is being unfair to Scarlett Johansson.

I’m snapping at my boyfriend for grabbing a green pen that has been sitting unused on my nightstand for weeks, that he had left there, or because he’s not putting his shoes on fast enough. I’m outraged at the misaligned bracket for my recreation E league softball championship tournament.

Really, though, I’m just mad that my mom died.

I’m mad that the pedicure we got together has almost completely grown out, with just a sliver of pink nail polish left on my big toes. I’m mad that “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is still constantly streaming, even though she’s not around to watch it.

I’m livid that people keep doing things that my mom would find hilarious, but that I can’t tell her. And I can’t believe that there’s no timeline for when I’ll stop feeling like this.

I don’t like being angry. I avoid it so strongly that I only recently discovered that me viscerally screaming that everything is “annoying” and then sobbing, is actually me being angry. I try my absolute hardest to feel normal and smile, but I really just can’t right now.

Most times I’m feeling angry or anxious or just plain sad, a run has been able to lift my mood. I could head out onto the trails or on a long road run with a podcast and enjoy a lift in my mood. Running isn’t helping now though.

After a longer run where I spent nearly all of my energy, I still found myself angry. My legs were exhausted, but the rest of me still felt tense with emotion. I needed something more than just pavement pounding.

And so I’ve been thinking about what else I could do to lift my mood. Here are some things that have helped so far: reading a whole book in one sitting, grinding lots and lots of coffee, watercolor painting, painting my nails, and taking baths with some candles flickering in the background.

What I’ve found so far is that I have to calm my anger, not fight through it with a run. I need to soothe my emotions, not sweat over them. I need to slow down, not speed through it.

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