I had a really productive conversation yesterday about anger. Given the role that excessively expressed anger and resentment played in the relationships I’ve chosen to terminate, it has been something that is on my mind a lot. Because honestly, I have a fair amount of my own and I don’t seem to have a good place to put it. I think it might be why I’ve felt so tired lately (in addition to work becoming more and more of a drag).
I’m really sensitive to the fact that no one wants to be anyone else’s dumping ground. I am also aware that “enough” time has passed since the initial hurts and violations took place that my anger is no longer serving me. I’ve always considered anger to be an internal mechanism by which we are reminded to advocate for ourselves and be heard; and that, beyond those two functions, it fizzles at best uselessly, and at worst, destructively. I am certain that I don’t want to fall into an anger-expression-catharsis loop because ew, gross. But I am still at a point where I have withheld so many of my feelings and thoughts about the way I was treated that some distant part of me is likely screaming into the void, and shaking her fist at my efforts to be diplomatic.
I don’t regret that diplomacy, truly. I feel that, by and large, the way I handled things was elegant and honorable, and something about which I feel a modicum of pride. It was imperfect, and at times deeply so. But the things that were most important to me to preserve carried the day — a hard thing to manage when one is wounded and afraid. I acted in a way that was in accordance with my values, and kept me safe from further harm insofar as I could. I sought concrete advice and frequent sanity checks, but I never really sat down and just sobbed about how I was worth so much more than I got… about the utter hypocrisy and self-importance of my interlocutors… about how I was targeted in such a petty, jealous, unhealthy way simply for wanting to be treated less like a pet and more like an autonomous and worthwhile person. I still haven’t really given myself the time or space to feel those things without apologizing for them or hedging. I’m a little afraid to open the floodgate..
I don’t want to become the woman who used me so egregiously.
I don’t want to exhaust and deplete the people around me. But I also want to move past all of this noise.
I’m meeting with G&S next week and we’ve agreed that our shared experiences can take up the space of the first round of drinks (after G and I embrace and probably publicly ugly cry on one another — look out world, we are probably those people makin’ it awkward), and that we’ll give everyone moratorium power to be freely invoked at any time. Because we all get it: venting doesn’t make it better. Endlessly hashing and rehashing every little hurt and slight and wound is like any other form of repetition: it’s reinforcement. It’s fuel. It’s food. And I think we’ve all realized: if you feed something, that’s what grows. If you water it, it blossoms. The parts of emotional lives that receive the most airtime and bandwidth are the ones that dominate our internal landscapes. And none of us want this indignation and contempt to come to define our guts. But we are all of us uniquely located to speak and hear each other’s painful truths, and illuminate what treasures might be left in the ashes.
I hope so much that I can give that opportunity the honor and care it deserves, and that, as the second round comes along, we can laugh and talk about books and art and music and the wonderful things that have come to occupy the space vacated by people so afraid, so pernicious, and so deeply troubled that we come to wonder how it ever felt like loss at all.