Men + Myself + God

Tag: relationship

Anger is for…Lovers: vol 1.(#31writenow, #nablopomo)

by P. Braithwaite

Get it? Angry Bird?

Get it? Angry Bird?

Once upon a time, I was in a support group (not for anger), and a woman got so angry that she started to convulse. Then she started to scream and had to be physically restrained.

The following week she was gone.

The remaining members of the group were told that she wasn’t ready for the work we were doing. Not everyone can handle what we’re doing. We all nodded and agreed. Our group leader told us the woman needed further assistance, and maybe that was true, but I was secretly unsettled. See, underneath my smile and ridiculous jokes, there was (is??) a woman who was (is??) screaming; there is a woman who is convulsing; there is a woman who wants to grab sticks and matches and burn villages to the ground.

And so I was angry with our group leader. Angry for reasons I couldn’t explain, but only now understand: when she dismissed the woman who was expressing her anger, she dismissed a very real and honest part of me. She unwittingly created a boundary of acceptable behavior. I understood then what I’d understood all my life – if I’m going to be angry, I’ve got to do it quietly and alone.

Sometimes, I am feel so angry it scares me. It seems to be an irrevocable part of who I am. I’m attached to it. And terrified by it. And, overall intrigued. Anger is the reason for my radiance. It’s the reason there is a glimmer in my eyes. It is the reason I can run for miles without getting tired.  There is anger in the food I eat ( crunchy salty potato chips or medium-rare steak). Anger is the reason some folks call me witty — intertwined with every word I utter and every word I write. Anger, and my unwillingness to dance with it, is the reason I was so depressed at 19 years old (and 20, and 24). It is the reason I was so exhausted I couldn’t get out of bed. Depression, Freud said, is anger turned inward.

A tug-of-war with repressed emotions takes a lot out of a person.

There is only one person in the history of my entire life who has ever accused me of having an anger problem. I still don’t know how he knew. Maybe it was because he was angry too; I’m not sure. Sometimes he’d look at me with squinted eyes as if he could see it on my skin (like a blemish behind the wrong shade of concealer).

“You’re so angry,” he’d say.

“No I’m not.”

“No really,” he’d counter. “You are.”

With the absence of a story to lean on or someone else to blame, I’m coming face-to-face with my ever-present anger. And I’m working on trying to let it go (or at the very least, using it to my advantage). I am re-learning that it is impossible to release what you never truly face. I’m going to repeat that: You cannot release what you never face. Whether, anger, sadness, repression or loss…you must acknowledge and face what you want to transcend.

Otherwise you’re just painting over whatever it is you don’t want to feel.

And so, I’m learning to make peace with the anger and understand its energy. It’s that shadow place in The Lion King, beyond the pride, where Simba isn’t ever supposed to go.

I have to make friends with my hyenas.

And so do you.

What are you trying to understand and make peace with?

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On Being Emotionally Exhausted (& Staying Anyway) #31writenow #nablopomo

by P. Braithwaite

I wrote this post a while ago, but never published it. I wasn’t ready. It was too real. I pose a few questions that I’d really love answers to. If you have any thoughts to share based on your experiences, please share them below…

Here’s a confession that’s probably obvious by now: I’ve never had a successful romantic relationship. I say that, but maybe that’s unfair. How do we measure success? Lessons learned? Insights gained? How do we know when things aren’t working? When do we make the decision to give up?

Time of death — 9:15.

These are the questions I’m grappling with today. I wish more people discussed the hard times in relationships. I wish married people wrote and shared the moments when they wanted to give up but didn’t. Take a picture of that moment, publish it on instagram…tell the story and add a hashtag: I’mgladIstayed. I wish married/deeply committed people talked more about the moments where they teetered on the edge. Commitments aren’t commitments if they’re never tested. I can’t be the only one unhappy sometimes.

I guess I’m looking for a different perspective; a love letter from a stranger. Someone to share a spark I can apply to my own life. The unknown and the known are exhausting and scary. I want to give up. I need a sign…

Sometimes, when we fight too hard and too long, we forget. We forget what attracted us, we forget what we fell in love with. We forget that we’re better together. What was amnesty feels like hostile territory. We forget that there’s a better way to live and love each other. We forget that there’s a better way to love ourselves.

So today, I have no answers. Only questions, how do you know, for sure, when it’s time to move forward? What keeps two people committed even when it’s hard? At what point does commitment become self-betrayal?

Share your thoughts, I’d really like to know…

(Not So) Quickie: Fallacy of Unconditional Love

by P. Braithwaite

“THE operative fallacy here is that we believe that unconditional love means not seeing anything negative about someone, when it really means pretty much the opposite: loving someone despite their infuriating flaws and essential absurdity. “Do I want to be loved in spite of?” Donald Barthelme writes in his story “Rebecca” about a woman with green skin. “Do you? Does anyone? But aren’t we all, to some degree?”

We don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice. We can’t believe that anyone could be unkind to us and still be genuinely fond of us, although we do it all the time.

Years ago a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground, in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase, but I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.”

 

-Tom Kreider

Excerpt from New York Times Piece, “I Know What You Think of ME” Read the whole thing (It’s brilliant).