Earlier this year I was in a casual relationship with someone who had no interest in having children, didn't have children, and was diagnosed bi polar. We had a lot in common, but there were obviously issues (otherwise I'd still be in the relationship one can assume). One problem was that he saw my anger and frustration at the various battles I was fighting at the time as innate negativity.
I was fighting for sole legal custody of my daughter. Trying to get her school to put a 504 plan in place for her due to ADHD accommodations. And was filling out applications for financial relief for her summer camp. It was an expensive, stressful, terrifying time. There were moments when I was overwhelmed and terrified. So he dumped me. He felt that I was too negative and I was bringing him down. That's fine, we weren't a good fit anyway and ultimately I met someone wonderful and we're doing well. But this whole issue brings to mind the difference between appropriate anger and frustration, and being negative and how tone policing is bullshit.
Stress happens. Life is complicated and messy. No one has a perfectly cheery disposition at all times without either pharmaceutical help or a deep habit of self-delusion. Being angry is a normal response to being treated badly or going through a hard time. Expression of anger is one way to help reduce the stress that makes positive action difficult, if not impossible to implement. Telling someone that their situational anger is a part of who they are is abusive and reductionist. It tells the angry person that they have become nothing but the reaction to the situation that has caused an emotion. And there is nothing positive to be gained by that.
I've seen this expressed on a larger scale when communities protest an injustice. Commentators say that the protesters "would get more done if they weren't so angry!" This is tone policing. An external observer is telling the angry person/community that their response isn't valid. Even though the observer (or partner) isn't experiencing the emotion themselves, they feel entitled to tell the person(s) having the experience HOW they should have the experience. I repeat, this is bullshit.
I'm currently in another rage inducing situation with my ex-husband. This time I'm in a relationship with someone who not only listens to me vent, but encourages me to do so, and has agreed with the core awfullness of the situation. He has even parsed out the details in a way that both validates, and clarifies some of my more strictly emotional responses. This is how to react to someone angry at an unjust situation. Listen, respond when appropriate, listen... Then the anger can be turned toward action, and a positive response.
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.