Updated: Aug 18
Someone did something I didn’t like.
I asked him not to do it.
He did it anyway.
Anger, frustration, accusation?
The emotions pass through. Though they can be accessed again and again if I dwell on the details of the argument, bringing them back over and over to life by reliving the past, the words, the perceived hurts. I can make myself into the victim anytime.
When there is a disturbance in life the urge is to run away or to fix.
I feel annoyed, so I want to express the annoyance and fix whatever is annoying me. I feel annoyed and I don’t want to deal with it. I ignore it and distract myself with something else.
It’s foreign to feel emotions and do nothing with them.
The last thing I feel like I want to do when I experience anger, sadness, frustration, or upset, is sit still. Yet this is what I’ve been working with the past five years or so. See the emotion, feel it. Don’t react, respond when you are able, or if a response is needed at all.
Oh but the urge to react remains! It would feel so good to just speak my mind and tell you exactly what you did wrong, tell my version of the story, prove my self right. But it would only be a moment of satisfaction like a puffed up balloon, inflated, full, floating gloriously towards the sun and then… pfzsszzzzsszzzz… it falls back to the earth just a thin sheaf of plastic after all.
“I don’t want you to play with that, it’s mine and fragile.” He takes the toy from my hands and throws it gleefully into the air. “Look,” he says, “it’s pretty in the sunshine!” “Please give it back,” I ask politely as I’ve been taught. “All right,” he says devilishly, “but in just one moment.” He tosses it again faster this time, back and forth between his palms. “Oops.” It falls to the floor and breaks into pieces, changed forever.
As a child if someone did something “to” me that I perceived as wrong, I’d turn to a parent. I’d seek judgement, reprimanding and blame from an external source.
“You should have listened. You should have given it back when she asked for it. And you… you should have been clearer that you didn’t want the toy played with in the first place, why did you have it out of the box if you were afraid it would get broken? It seems like you both owe each other an apology.”
I feel empty inside at the end of the conflict. Nothing feels resolved, and my toy is still broken. The actions are done, past. To dwell on them is to leave the present. To take a stance on them is to create a story: “I was right, he was wrong, and I still got into trouble. The world is unfair.” In this trajectory every time any conflict like this happens again, I will feel the victim over and over. Only, not just the victim of that moment, but the victim of every time I have been “wronged” for my whole life.
As an adult I’ve felt I’m often playing out the same scenarios over and over again with different toys and different judges. An incident in traffic, a conflict at work, a friend who does something I think is incorrect or hurtful. The judges have come to live inside my head or in the words of my friends when we gossip about what happened, “Can you believe it!? Can you believe he did it again?”
As human beings we have learned how to have boundaries. We have learned how to communicate our needs. We have learned how to say, “I am sorry.” Now, we must learn how to forgive even when these boundaries are broken, even when we want to make someone wrong, even when blame feels warranted.
We must learn how to forgive, just because. We must learn to love the relief and the space and caring that moves in when forgiveness is chosen over blame. We must forgive because there is enough anger, blame, and judgement in the world to fill it with pain for another 10 centuries.
How many times when someone has said, “I’m sorry,” or in the case of a child, or even our court system, been made to say so by a parent or authority figure, has it actually meant anything?
For me, as a child, when my brother was made to say “sorry” all it meant was “I’m wrong,” and therefore “you’re right.” I don’t need to be right anymore.
I want something that exists beyond wrong and right.