On the dark wooded path, I have endless chances to seize upon the white-hot poker of anger and brandish it. Sometimes I brandish it wildly at shadows, unfocused, blinded, and other times I aim it true and hit the correct target.
Today I mostly held onto the poker and stood still, seething, wanting so badly to rise up and shriek, but practicing restraint, over and over. Burning away, smoke coming out of my ears, stuffing all the words and screaming that wanted to come flying out.
Oh, the comments. The insinuations. The claim that I’m allowing myself to be manipulated. The ridiculous expectations. The jokes at my expense. The snarky, sideways remarks from out of nowhere. The dismissal of my feelings, my pain.
Anger flares up so hot and suddenly. I could turn into a powerfully destructive force in an instant, I know. I must choose again and again to resist. I don’t want to play this game. I don’t want to be baited. I don’t want to put up with this. Why am I putting up with this?! Wait, no, go back, remember: you didn’t put up with this. You did have words. You claimed your own autonomy, your own decision-making, your own capacity for self-care. You flat-out rejected the idea that you were weak, thoughtless, easily swayed, somehow mentally or emotionally deficient. You didn’t laugh at the jokes. You didn’t take any of it lying down. And on top of that, you didn’t rip anyone’s head off.
That will have to suffice, right?
Perversely, I’m glad that my thumb got smashed in my sister’s van door tonight. Its purple throbbing is a vivid analogue to my rage. Not just the quotidian rage, the personal rage, over petty slights that hearken back to every original ancient wound, but the staggering rage, the collective rage, over the ongoing destruction and murder happening worldwide. Zing! You don’t want to light that fuse, people.
My task comes into focus: hold onto the anger. Give it a cup of gunpowder tea. Distill it down to a laser. Wield it to cut away the bullshit.