I was so proud of myself. I had packed a picnic for the children. I piled them into the car. Sol sang along to the music as we drove. I stopped into the store and bought a few extra drinks and snacks. I went to the doctors and picked up Joaquin’s immunization charts. I stopped in the bank to file a paper for our land tax. We went to Bunnings to pick up the extra paint I needed to finish a few things. And then I crashed. All of my energy left me. My nerves started zinging. I could see the disappointment in Sol’s face when he asked me to chase him around the indoor playground and I had to say no. “No, I need to just sit here, sweetie.” That is when the anger began in me.
I had promised to take them to the park and I wasn’t familiar with how to get there. I’d reached the stage of fatigue when the surface of my skin had become blurry and my fingertips numb. My thoughts left tracers and noise piled up in my brain like storm clouds. I programmed the GPS and told myself all I had to do was get to the park and then I could sit. Of course, I missed the exit. I missed the exit and then the GPS fell off the window and I cursed and panicked and apologized. And then I missed the second exit while trying to get the GPS back up on the window. The anger and frustration grew in the center of my body like brambles, thorns tugging and tearing at my spirit, whispering, “See? You’re useless. I’m not sure why you even survive. It’s laughable you thought you could do something like teaching or function in any way. This is all you’ll ever be. Your body can’t handle LIFE.” And then the anger reached my throat and I wanted to yell at something, someone, anything before I choked.
I took a deep breath and prayed. I prayed some more. I got us home and I wrote my dear friend that has counselled me over the years. He said many wise things but he also asked me what I thought the root of the anger was inside of me.
Anger has served as an energy source for me. When I’ve hit fatigue, I’ve gotten angry and used the anger to drive me through the fatigue. Anger has served as a processor of emotional pain and sorrow. When I’ve been hurt, I get angry and the anger drives me out into the garden or into cleaning or some activity that allows me to slowly and surely wear myself out until all that is left is the vulnerability and then I’m able to confront it. Anger has helped me to draw boundaries and to defend myself and those I love, although the anger has not always been the best medium for expressing it.
I’ve begun to see anger as a guardian. An instinct that something has been breached inside of me. It leaves when it is sure that I’m safe and have learned the lesson needed to protect myself or others against further attack.
But the root of this anger that wells up in me when I’m tired, the anger that flooded through me last night and that I tried to pin to specific people or situations, it is an old, primal anger that can’t be contained by any single person, event or explanation.
It is the anger of being disconnected from my essential nature.
I am the child that would take on a group of boys and tell them off for stuffing rocks in a snake hole because they wanted to trap it.
I am the teenager that would challenge authority if I thought it was unjust.
I am the woman that will stand up in a lecture hall of three hundred students in NZ and confront the gross generalizations being made about the USA and its people after September 11 happened. In other words, I will go into battle to protect the people and beliefs I hold dear.
I am the friend that will be lied to or vented on and will forgive if you come to me and show me your soft underbelly. If you tell me about your ugly, the things you are most afraid of, I will love you more for it.
I want to be the friend that sends thoughtful gifts and cards. I want to be the mother that organizes great holiday traditions and birthday parties and manages to write novels and short stories and articles and keep a clean home and take care of the finances and grows her own food.
But I’m the woman that is healing.
I’m the woman learning that she is enough.
The anger that rose up in me over the last few days was ancient and wise. It had nothing to do with those who have fallen short of my expectations or hopes. My anger brought me those memories and laid them at my feet with one message: You must learn to love and respect yourself.
You were perfectly made, child.