Anger (written 1992)
Anger. It concerns me that anger can show up so quickly, so uncontrollably, from nowhere. It has a physical presence, something I can now identify before the anger itself hits. A prelude. An introduction. A preface. I don't know what, but I feel it. I know it. I'm learning to see it. I used to think that anger came from being weary, from being pressed, from having too much to do. From feeling like a victim, lost in the needs and desires and wants of “others”. But I don't think so now. Anger doesn't come from outside. It's just a response. Something I choose to grab onto.
Yesterday was a wonderful day for me. I felt productive. I felt good about me. I felt worthwhile. And so I was … all those things. The day began with my run at 6:00 a.m. And a morning full of things to do. Chores, time for me, obligations.All those things augmented by a call offering a great writing opportunity. So, a day of confirmation.
Then today. I didn't sleep well. Waking. Dreams. Restless. Edgy. Then just before it was time to get up I fell into a coma-like sleep. Too heavy. And so I missed the alarm, the time for my run. My first thoughts were that I would have no exercise this day. I would be still, lethargic and useless and fat before the day was out. And then I just fell back to sleep when I meant to wake and begin then at least. And when I woke, everything was a rush.
Had to dash to get my son to swim class. Leave beds unmade, coffee half drunk and I ate a quick slice of heavy banana loaf instead of something light and healthy. I was impatient on our walk to the pool, and I felt the day dissolving around me, just being eaten up by things I was not choosing and I didn't like me. I confirmed that I was unlikeable by being short tempered and nasty.
By afternoon when the time came for my son's nap, my head felt full of lead. I was weary and unable to think clearly. I felt lonely and tried to avoid working but somehow I did work a little.
On days like this anger puts down roots and shoots up when it shouldn't. Unexpected and unpredictable. And the little one who shares my days most often gets the brunt of irritation and impatience that are anger's faces. He is three. All three year olds do the things he does yet my actions say he has let me down. I think how this will stay with him in some deep place and then I feel such grief and guilt, I confirm again my worthlessness.
How do I control this cycle? The reading I am doing is showing me a way: By knowing I do not want to be angry and anger is not what I am. I can see what happens in that prelude, that preface I feel; therefore, I can choose not to act from anger, to find my patient core, to define myself in a different way. Treat anger like the child it is. Hold it close. Say hush. And then release it. Let it go.
We have so little time. Filling it is not what is important. A schedule with many things to do does not indicate a life well lived. I do not want to live so carelessly. Living carelessly leaves broken dreams and hopes on the floor, it discards old friends, and the feelings of others, and eventually I have to watch my step or I trip on the clutter and mess I've made. Or I'm wounded by some sharp edge of my own making. This isn't healthy.
I need to begin to pick up the pieces. Dust the corners and open the windows. Mend what my actions have broken. Create a life with room for breathing. Deeply.
On busy days it's so easy to drop some hasty, thoughtless word and think there'll be time later to make amends. Vigilance is what I'm learning.