Imagine a little girl who was never allowed to feel what came naturally to her. Her mother took personal offense, her father co-opted the emotion as his own. See her grow up never believing in a single emotion she had because retribution was swift when she didn’t feel what they wanted her to: joy, appreciation, anger, hurt, upset. As she developed into a young woman she feared removal of their love lest she do and be exactly as they hoped, but it was always a struggle. She never seemed to get it right.
She began to drink at 13, raiding the liquor cabinet and drinking herself to blackouts because the hole inside her heart was so vast, so deep, so overwhelming she just wanted to disappear. At 18 she was introduced to drugs. She felt like she’d come home. The hole was filled with power now. And then she left her mother and father and moved 1500 miles away. Finally, she could be who she was, feel as she did the beauty of the world, her body, the magical gifts the universe had to offer her in whatever package it was delivered: drugs, sex, friends, laughter, love, life.
But she still couldn’t feel certain things. She was too lost, too afraid to lose all her new family she’d forged in a strange city all by herself. She would pour her heart into her friendships and her relationships; give everything to everyone in hopes that they would return even one drop of her waterfall. But they never did. They understood that they would lose themselves in the process. So she learned to pull back, evaluate, and not equate doing with love.
With time and practice she learned to feel in the right way, without fear. To feel herself through the eyes of others and, most importantly, her own kind eyes. She was happy, sad, joyful, loving, exasperated, kind, boisterous.
She relaxed into her own skin, invited in only those who wanted to stay and love her as she was — a larger than life woman now with a never-ending energy and capacity for more. Her friendships blossomed, she grew stronger. But still, one emotion eluded her: anger. Self-righteous, loud, powerful anger.
When her husband gave up on her she felt only sad. When her mother rejected her adult self she was bereft. When her best friend abandoned her time and time again she was dejected. When her boyfriends failed to be the men she wanted she was tearful. When her sister didn’t trust her she pooled into a watery mess. She was incapable of being angry at these people who didn’t see her, didn’t listen to her, didn’t get her.
She believed she had no right to it. An angry person is allowed to feel, to be, to scream and punch the wall. A genuinely angry person is taken seriously. She was no one. She was wrong. No one ever wanted her to be angry. Ever. And so she never was.
She folded in on herself, swallowed the black snake of rage down her craw and let it slither in her gut until one day it wanted out.
It roiled and flipped and fucked its way back out her body with cruel precision, bringing her to her knees. Her body quaked, her heart raced, she thought she was dying. She admitted it was there, but swallowed it again. Until now.
She is finally angry.
It makes no difference to her that her anger is snarling indiscriminately at her old lover. She believes he broke open the scar of her childhood and he, she has decided, will be the recipient.
She’s angry he won’t love her. She’s angry that he has fled to her. She’s angry that she lost control. She’s angry that she hoped. She’s angry that she didn’t believe him. She’s angry that he never lied. She’s angry that it hurts so much. She’s angry that he didn’t sleep at home last night. She’s angry that she had to beg him to stay with her. She’s angry that he didn’t leave her alone at the start. She’s angry that he won’t leave her alone now. She’s angry that he wants her friendship. She’s angry that he left her.
She’s angry for this moment, for right now, because it’s all she can handle. The world of hurt, the volcanic pain that comes pulsing up whenever she feels abandoned, is still there, but she’s stronger. She’s finally looking at it. It’s a Mount Shasta of cruelty, a cool, dusty blue on the horizon capped with frothy, cold white tears founded through years of heartbreak and worthlessness.
A loss is a loss like any other, but she finally understands why she cut herself. It is the dark, steaming creature that has lived and grown in her belly since she was small and golden with innocence. It’s not that moment. It’s what it reminds her of: She is not fit for love. She is wrong.
This anger she feels for him is only the start. He will not get one part of what he loves about her like this. She must preserve her dignity, her heart, and her body. He can have her, she will have herself. She will wrangle the beast in her core, eye it down, flay it. She will rage and yell and beat back those who have hurt her with a pure and just heart. Wildly at first, then with discretion.
This isn’t about him. It’s about her and the new language she is struggling to understand. Anger is foreign. It tastes like salty aluminum bubblegum, feels like a stinging nettle ant bite, looks like a tail-thrashing chainsaw.
But still. Fuck him. Fuck her. She will master this new language and move on. Angry.