“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
I close Facebook without reading notifications or messages. I’m so angry that it’s not until I use my hand to pick up a glass that I realize my fingernails have left white indents in my palms. I’m angry about pre-existing conditions mattering again.
About lives mattering when it feels like too many don’t.
I’m angry that a man who seems to have a heart filled with hate has replaced one who seems to have one full of love. That he wants an Education Secretary who doesn’t know anything about public schools, or special education, or IDEA.
I find that I need to relax through my anger.
Years ago, I carried my anger around like a pet. When it shot daggers of feelings at those who deserved it, I pet her, gave her a special treat. I felt justified and believed my anger pet was helpful. Loyal.
I kept her, fed her, and found her early on each day. Sure, there were days when I neglected her. Forgot about her. But mostly, I watched her grow and grinned as she grew stronger.
I knew enough to keep her mostly hidden.
I knew enough to know that my other pet, a warm, fuzzy, and semi-psycho dog who barked at squirrels farting three blocks away was the pet the world might embrace a little better.
But still, I didn’t really know the truth of my anger pet until my dad accidentally saw her one night.
“We need to talk,” he said.
“I know you’re angry, and you have a right to be,” he said.
“I’m not angry,” I replied, believing it.
“Okay. Well listen to me anyway,” he said.
“When we’re hurt, or pissed off, we carry anger around with us, thinking it hurts those who hurt us. We think being angry with somebody changes them. Makes them realize how foolish they were to be whatever it is they were with us.”
I didn’t say anything, but reached into my pocket, and stroked my pet.
“Here’s the thing,” he continued. “Carrying anger around is bullshit.”
I pulled my hand from my pocket, and stilled it on my lap.
“What do you mean?” I asked. I tried to not sound desperate or annoyed although I was both.
“I mean, you have anger in your heart, and you think holding it will hurt the person you direct it towards. But really, it only hurts you. The person you’re pissed off at is clueless, just living their life. It’s only you that anger hurts, because you’re the one carrying it.”
It took a couple of years, but eventually, I set that pet free. I left her off near the side of a stream in Colorado. We shook hands, and she jumped in and swam away, hollering back that I knew where to find her.
I found ways to relax when I wanted to call her home.
Sometimes, to relax, I read. I write, or I pace.
Other times, nothing works to relax.
Sometimes, simply pressing my lips to the soft space behind my son’s ear relaxes me.
Taking silly selfies usually works.
Other times, I need nothing less than holding him tight, or curling my body around his as he grows sleepy.
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that relaxing is a thing. When our bodies buzz with the type of anger that shakes our hands and flushes our faces, relaxing is the last thing we think to do.
We want to hurt right back.
But that anger doesn’t hurt those who hurt us. I have to remember that. Today was a day I was already angry. We have a hateful man leading this country. He’s making horrible decisions. Ones I do not agree with. I’ve made phone calls, I’ve marched, I’ve… I’ve… I’ve… I’ve…
None of it feels like it makes enough of a difference. But humaning is still humaning and neighboring is still neighboring.
Helping makes me feel seen.
And then today, in the car, while my seven-year-old sat next to him, this boy said “My birthday party’s tomorrow night!”
My breath caught. My son wasn’t invited.
I didn’t say much. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation.
The boy continued. “We’re going bowling and my guests will come to my house tomorrow after school!”
“Can I come?” my son asked.
“No,” the boy said.
And just like that, I was hurt and angry and embarrassed and sad and well, all the things you’d imagine being in that situation, I guess. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation but when you’re seven… well.
My little boy didn’t say anything.
We got out of the car, waved goodbye, and I took my son to the Scout Shop. I knew he’d love looking at compasses and knives and tents.
We blasted My House by Flo Rida in the car. Bounced in our seats.
I could use some more relaxing though. My step-mom is having surgery tomorrow. My son had to go to the ER. Twice this week. He’s totally FINE now, but OMG, I need to relax.
Maybe, I should take up knitting. I hear it does wonders for the hands and for the heart.
In the meantime, I think I’ll look at cute animal photos and snuggle up with my little boy. That always does the trick.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Tonight’s sentence is”When I need to relax…”
“People need to relax/calm down about…”