In Writing

I hate. That is the overwhelming feeling in my body, starting in a furnace where my rib cage meets my belly, crawling up my chest to my throat: hate.

It wasn’t always this way. I have historically been more of the “turn it inward” type, finding ways to blame myself for awkward energy in rooms I’ve just walked into, fights between friends that happened when I wasn’t even there, or inclement weather. It’s fairly standard for kids to grew up scared to give themselves an outsized importance as a way of piling up sandbags against the terror of powerlessness. If I am to blame for everything, there exists the faint hope that I can fix everything. If I don’t fix it, I only have myself to blame, and that’s less scary than an arbitrary world.

But I’m closer to the end of my life now than to that scary beginning, and I’ve spent a lot of time understanding that the terrors of childhood will never visit me again. Others will, perhaps, but I am not the powerless child I once was. I am a capable and resourceful woman, and I’ve handled enough tough times to know that I can.

In teaching myself to not blame myself, I have inadvertently moved into the next phase: blaming others. I am enraged by everything. The person who walks across my path, too close, as if he doesn’t see me. The person who is a jerk on the road. The state of national politics has the power to send me into a hair-on-fire fury in a nanosecond. Now there’s a totally dumb thing happening in my local government that has created a giant rage-ball in my chest that has lasted the better part of a week. I am furious at people who love me and mean well, and I am incensed most of all at people who give no damns about me. And if anyone tries to hurt me, or, really, just looks at me funny, I am just this side of setting them on fire with my stare.

It’s as if learning to not hate myself has made me bleeping mad, turning all that self-loathing on an unsuspecting world that I had not noticed, until now, was indifferent and douchey and self-interested and often dumb. In a weird way, it’s a step forward. Turning it out is a whole lot better than turning it in. And, I’m sorry (not really), but women rarely get to own their rage. It’s not feminine. We should be reconcilers, smilers. So we’re told. Maybe now as my feminine charms are on their decline, as the cat-calls fade, I can finally own the fire-breathing harpy that I want to be.

But here’s the thing: I also don’t want to be that person. It’s not for the world, because, frankly, eff the world, it doesn’t care what I say or do about it, for the most part. It’s for me. That old saw about revenge being like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die also applies in this case. I drink the poison of my rage every day, heart pounding at indignities and dangers, at oversights and reckless posturing about nuclear war (I’m looking at you, you orange buffoon). It’s just my own heart taking the beating.

I dream of going somewhere pure. Where? A forest. Sedona. The Pacific Northwest, maybe. I dream of doing some special ritual, all alone, miles from everyone. I want to ask the ground permission to drain all my lifetime of rage down into its waiting bosom, pounding it, sobbing, yelling it all out until there’s nothing more to unload.

Then I go float on a beach somewhere and just soak in happiness.

But, dammit, now that I write it, all this ritual is going to require a lot of time at the airport, and if there’s one thing that makes me hopping mad it’s…


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