Monday, March 04, 2013

'33 minutes of unfruitful rage'

There's an Etsy shop I keep finding myself going back to, though I have yet to purchase anything from her. She's a print-maker in Portland, Oregon (of course), and her prints -- simple to the point of mundanity -- move me almost to tears. There is one in particular, this one, that's been haunting me for awhile now.

There are two numbers that I never want to know: the amount of money I've wasted on cigarettes, and the amount of time I've wasted on rage.

God, how I've raged and cried in my nearly-thirty-seven years, how I've thrown away huge swaths of my life to uncontrollable, unbridled anger. I have raged over big things (my father's death; my mother and brother moving thousands of miles away; Mick wrapping his car around a tree; the abortion; Chris going off to law school and falling in love with another woman; beautiful little Wynn's difficult beginnings) and little things (the wrong music, food in the library, miniscule snubs, a missed train) and things completely out of my control (the Catholic Church, security theater, Republicans, NOM).

I spent one summer listening to this, gorgeous and furious and running through my head for days, weeks, months. After awhile I couldn't get it out -- neither the rage nor the self-loathing it masked.

More recently, I yelled and sobbed my way through the months and weeks leading up to the New Year, and drove my poor Evan further and further away. I wrote beautiful things about wanting to be happy for him and with him and then instead was often and unpredictably cruel and desperate and sad. I began measuring time in increments between having to wash my glasses because of crying in them, and then would hold this over his head (as if it could possibly be his fault) in the middle of fierce arguments.

And the truth of it, of course, is that there is a certain power in rage and depression and sadness -- over one's self, over one's family and friends and lovers. It's not the power I find myself wanting these days, but it's hard to unlearn such entrenched patterns, such ingrained ways of being after decades of being that way.

It's not easy armor to give up, this cold steel of rage, but for the first time in my life I'm actually and actively working at letting it go. Last November I began seeing Jane on Thursdays, and in early January Dr. Bulow and Zoloft were thrown into the mix, and later that month I discovered that meditation (much to my cynical heart's surprise) is actually helpful.

And strangely, at this ripe old age of thirty-six, my own rages are beginning to seem a little less scary, a little less all-consuming, and I can't begin to tell you how simply nice this feels.

Tonight has been shaky -- shakier than it's been in a few weeks -- and I've been argumentative and accusatory (how dare Evan interrupt my writing to have dinner, and how dare he encourage me to write in the first place, and why oh why is nothing ever right in the world?).

My mother called a little while ago and we were chatting and finally I told her I was having a bit of a rough night.  She paused and then said, "I thought as much -- your voice sounds different tonight."  I told her I'd been writing about rage and then I got mad at Evan and she just laughed and said, "Of course you did. Now you get off this phone and go tell him sometimes you just get mad, and you're sorry."

What I value most in all the talking with Jane and Dr. Bulow, and what the medication and the meditation seem to be helping me with, is learning how to live emotionally (I fear I will never not be overly emotional, alas) without being consumed by those pesky emotions.

Sometimes it seems like an impossible battle, but more often these days it seems like a possibility of contentment, and a letting go of all those minutes, weeks, decades of unfruitful rage.

For now, I will continue to take my little green pills, talk incessantly about all of this, and look forward to those daily fifteen minutes of quiet sitting, eyes closed, breath for once measured and calm.

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