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I’m Not Mad, I’m…

I’m Not Mad, I’m…

I grew up in a house where most of the conflict was very quiet. When nasty things were said, it was often in a very calm tone of voice. My mother had one negative emotion word she used all the time. It was “mad.” My dad wasn’t around much because he put in long hours and traveled for work, and when he was physically present, he was so exhausted recovering from his job that he was largely silent.

On the rare occasion that voices were raised in my house, it was accompanied by violence against objects or people.

Because it wasn’t safe (emotionally or physically) for me to express them, I can’t differentiate well between the following emotions (in myself or others):

  • angry
  • upset
  • frustrated
  • irritated
  • annoyed


I’m not sure how they are different. I have a hard time telling them apart, and it causes problems when I’m trying to communicate with someone who is experiencing or has experienced one of these emotions because of me and/or if I have experienced one of these emotions myself and am trying to communicate that.

This list was generated essentially by my saying “you’re mad at me” and their saying “I’m not mad, I’m [blank].”

I feel like this holds me back.

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