Doesn’t it just drive you crazy when someone tells you to “calm down” or “just be positive”? Right when you have that deep frustration or anger inside of you bubbling up and someone tries to get you to ignore or just “stop” your feelings. What?? So, how am I supposed to do that? And why should I anyway?
I’ve realized lately that all the crises in the world are starting to intimately affect my own inner world, my mind, in a different way these days. Usually, my default response to tragedy is first jumping in to help (if I can) and then feeling the sadness of the people’s experiences. As a crisis responder, chaplain, or single mom, I have always been able to dive in whenever I needed to and compartmentalize my own emotions until I got to a safe space to do so. However, lately, I’ve noticed I’ve had a shorter fuse or a rewired circuitry in my brain that isn’t going that way. I’m finding myself feeling frustration or anger first. Is anyone else feeling that way?
So why is that? Obviously, we’ve all got a lot of tragedy around us right now — friends or family getting sick or dying, innocent people getting crushed under collapsing buildings, or being killed or injured in an earthquake, brave souls trying to flee from the violence of a country collapse, and the list goes on. In my own home, I’m so lucky to feel safe now. It wasn’t always that way, but the days of me walking on eggshells are over. Is it my PTSD that’s showing up in a different way now? What I’ve learned (and apparently forgotten) is that ignoring or trying to “stop” my anger just doesn’t work well for me, or anybody.
Of course, I’m angry! Look at the Japanese beetles eating my beautiful roses, the tiny ants on my kitchen sink that keep coming back, the walls in my house that desperately need painting, my family members being exposed to COVID when other people just don’t want to get vaccinated or wear a mask. And that doesn’t even cover the shortage of water, and dangerous air pollution we have now because of a dying planet that we could have started protecting decades ago. And don’t even get me started on the racism embedded in our systems and culture. You bet I’m angry. So what. join the club, Linda.
In reflection of all this, I was reminded that my shorter fuse is because I haven’t been expressing my anger healthily lately. It’s not because of all those things and people that make me angry on the outside. It’s because I haven’t been doing my own work on the inside. So, I’m back to healthy exercises of screaming into my pillow, hitting my bed with a tennis racket, singing angrily at the top of my lungs (sorry, neighbors). And above all, when I feel my anger starting to rise in my body, I note it and say it out loud to myself or whomever is there at the time. It’s time to give up the need for looking perfect and nice and civil. I’m a human, too, with real emotions like everyone else. So be it.
Phew, I feel so much better now! Coming clean and admitting publicly that I’m human is revolutionary for me. Or should I say evolutionary?
Anyone want to join me? It sure feels good.
Former Colorado state senator, now with a master’s in Social Justice and Ethics from Iliff School of Theology, Linda Newell is a writer, speaker, facilitator, and conflict/DEI consultant. Senlindanewell@gmail.com, www.lindanewell.org, www.senlindanewell.com, @sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell or @TheLastBill on Facebook.
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