Anger is a natural, basic human feeling. We feel loving, sad, happy, jealous—and we feel angry. Most of us, however, have learned so well to ignore and bottle up our anger that we call it by other names or deny it altogether. Occasionally, we may explode with pent-up, irrational rage, out of control and destructive.
Our culture has taught most of us to label anger by such names as irritation, frustration, depression, or sadness. But anger is anger, and no amount of psychological game playing can keep our systems free of its toxic effects. The best thing to do with anger is to recognize it and learn to channel it constructively: into work, athletics, or the fight against social ills. At best, our anger can jolt us out of ruts and trigger us into taking necessary actions.
Anger is a major block to healthy sexual expression. It is one of the causes of low self-esteem; it is a frequent result of feeling unimportant or powerless. If we lack self-esteem, we allow hostility and anger to flourish. Sex in an angry relationship becomes a battleground rather than a pleasurable bond.
The Capricorn Woman generally has less trouble with repressed or improperly expressed anger than other people do. Still, her anger can be a blockbuster and a threat to her happiness. Typically, she deals with anger by rationalizing it. She may also use barbed wit to dissipate it or establish rituals of social intercourse as safeguards. Then again, she may ignore her anger altogether.
Focusing on the subject of anger, I interviewed a number of women who are Capricorn types or have gone through a Capricorn phase. Here are some typical responses:
1. "I have been married a long time and seldom find myself angry. I learned many years ago that I could not change my husband and have resigned myself. I take out my occasional frustrations—or anger, if you wish—by working at my sewing, in my garden, or sculpting."
2. "I used to think I seldom got angry, until I got to really know myself. It wasn't until my thirties that I recognized the enormous load of anger I had been carrying around, trying to get rid of it in well-controlled pieces and places. I used to act and found it a great way to unburden myself. Looking back, I mostly did comedy and preferred to play sharp-tongued shrews. It felt good to be hostile and be able to make people laugh about it. I guess I best express anger now when I feel it will not be rejected or disapproved."
3. "I used to be explosive over little things, but I could rarely express anger at what really made me angry. Lately, I have been involved in my work, my business is growing, and I feel a success, so that I have not been aware of any anger. I think I may be too tired and contented to be angry."
4. "I am angry when I think I have cause to be angry. If I have been given no reason to be angry, I am never angry. The main cause of my anger is usually the incompetence or unethical behavior of other people. It seldom has anything to do with me."
5. "I find that socializing, dancing, and drinking usually take care of my anger.
I may not actually face my anger or do anything directly with it, but I manage to get rid of it by going out to parties, cruises, picnics. They make me feel safe; they take me away from myself."
The first woman has chosen to ignore her anger or to divert it into useful pursuits. It sounds as if she has grown wiser and kinder to herself through the years. The second woman is "acting out" positively to cope with her anger. She acts literally— on stage. She also uses humor in a controlled setting to release hostility. The Capricorn Woman usually has a fine sense of humor and may excel at witty, derisive comments which barely veil hostility. She may have a Don Rickles streak.
The third woman sounds realistic. She has found a way to channel her aggression and anger into work. Her feelings of self-esteem are high, and she feels successful. Success, for the Capricorn Woman, takes care of more stress than it creates.
The fourth woman seems to have rationalized her anger. She does not seem to know that feelings are facts and need not be justified. When we feel angry, we need not marshal evidence as to why. We don't need to document why we are happy, so why do we so often seem to feel that we have to have "good" reasons for our anger? This lady needs to examine her value system. It seems to me that she lives with very strict shoulds. She shows intolerant, inflexible notions of how people should behave and what life should be like. She probably pictures herself as rigidly controlled—just like her expression of anger.
The Capricorn Woman very often reasons her way in and out of anger. Just as frequently, she assigns outside causes for it, taking very little, if any, responsibility herself. She often feels it is others and their unreasonable, quirky behavior that "justifiably" make her angry.
The fifth woman uses the ritual of partying as a safety valve for her aggressions. This is all right up to a point, but as she herself points out, there is the danger of running away from herself. I call this the "Peter Pan syndrome." She is choosing to escape the reality of her anger by frenetic activity. This woman is not accepting full responsibility for her emotions, in this case, anger.
Four of the women (the first, second, third, and fifth) were willing to discuss their sex lives openly. All four have experienced sexual difficulties, reporting both cycles without any sexual desire and cycles of intense sexual activity. All had had times when they found orgasm difficult to reach, especially when they felt upset or angry.
None of the women had been fully aware of their anger until our interviews started, so it was impossible for them to clearly define the role of anger in sexual problems. Only the fifth woman was able to see that the more frantic her partygoing became, the less interested she was in having sex. She also said that controlling her anger often meant inhibiting her sex drive.
I found it fascinating that the fourth woman, who seemed so sure of herself and so righteous about causes for her anger, refused to discuss her sex life altogether. I had the feeling she did not have any.
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