I am thankful for a lot of things this year as I look to Thanksgiving’s arrival. It’s a lot of things that have comprised my list in years past: my husband and son, and my larger family; my teaching career and school; shelter, food, comfort and convenience; friends, new and old;…the list continues.
This year I have something new and, possibly unusual, to add to my list. Anger.
For really the first time in my life, I am seeing the benefits of feeling my anger. I have felt a lot of anger in the past several months due to a misfortune that happened to me when I was a small child. I won’t go into detail about the trauma, but I think it’s important to share that my anger has laid dormant for a long long time.
I have come to realize that anger can be a healing agent and much more than its simplest and careless forms. And, consequently, buried, ignored, and unattended to anger, in my experience, has been self-destructive because it has been turned inward. My dormant anger has masked itself in many disguises: depression, anxiety, sabotage.
Identifying my anger, facing it and doing battle with it has taken perhaps the most courage of my life. It’s fierce, it’s real, and sometimes it looks like rage or a piercing scream–but it’s not a pointless toxin or a misinformed monster. It is a very useful human feeling that has given me the power and strength to contend with the hardest and most tragic parts of my existence.
Anger is my torch in the darkness to the other side.
And, the other side looks like a promise of peace, especially on the inside.
I have a long history of writing lengthy cards for all sorts of occasions to people who are dear to me. Here is a transcript of a card that I wrote today to my friend on the occasion of her 39th birthday. Some context: we are the same age — well, I’m a month older — and we grew up in the same neighborhood. We became fast friends in high school and have continued our friendship since. The birthday card features a magical like drawing of a mountain goat carrying a four leaf clover in its mouth. Without further ado, my birthday message to my dear friend, S:
Happy Birthday, S, in your 39th year! I send you the Good Fortune Goat, my favorite music discoveries this year, and Broad City Mad Libs — I think that should cover a good amount of what is necessary for a gal of our generation and circumstance. I hope that you have a good deal of whatever it is you want on your birthday, whether that be relaxing or something more upbeat.
I also wish you piece of mind and peace in your heart as we navigate what feels like hard times in our world. I hope that your ‘well’ maintains its vitality and sustains you. I hope that continued laughter, sense of self, and meaningful connections to others lights your journey. I hope that our paths intermingle frequently and that we enjoy the capacity of our longstanding friendship, which has meant so much to me, then and now.
Thanks for being there as I presently walk a difficult part of my journey. The hardest parts of our journey can feel so lonely, and I deeply appreciate your courage and love to walk with me a little. That’s been a real gift of our steady friendship. I love you a lot. Let’s see each other soon.