Today is February 11. It is Saturday. I am sitting under the stars in the backyard of an Airbnb in Austin, listening to the sounds of the neighbors’ Mexican music. Listening to the airplanes fly overhead as they fly away from here. Listening to the crickets. Listening to the feelings I have about the life I have led up until this moment. I am 44 years old. I have been very angry for a really long time. I’ve been angry for as long as I can remember. I’ve been unable to feel my anger for fear I would lose my support, my stability. I was afraid to feel angry even when I had a reason. I couldn’t see why I was angry because I have avoided it and carried it for so long in attempt to make myself and everyone else believe that I was not angry, that I was anything but. My anger was buried so deep I couldn’t even feel anything else.
Yet I did. I still felt it. I felt everything. I just buried it. At different times I buried it under drugs, I buried it under alcohol and tobacco and food. I buried it under medication. I buried it under religion. I buried it under shopping. I buried it in my marriage and my children. I’ve lived in a fully furnished single family home on the bank of denial. That all changed about a year ago.
A year ago I began to realize just how angry I was. My body was breaking down, one disc at a time in my spine. My bones could no longer carry the emotions I refused to feel. I began to peel away the layers of pain and fear like an onion. I began to feel the anger at my parents for not meeting my needs as a child. For bringing me into this cruel world then abandoning me. I began to feel the anger at my family members for standing by and agreeing with the way I was treated. I felt the anger at my stepmothers for their cruelty. I began to feel anger at my husband for being disconnected from me. I began to feel the anger at myself for not addressing it in the first place and for permitting this to happen to me and for the abuse I added to my own self by denying how I feel. I felt angry at the world for feeling unsafe and unsupportive and for not seeing the way it’s behavior affects children, animals, and every other living thing. I got angry at God for creating such a world and not listening to my prayers to fix it. I began to release all that anger in a confused, chaotic and destructive way. I turned my anger inside out and made everyone angry at me.
As I sit here now, all by myself, having pissed off every single person I loved, I feel empty. I feel acceptance. I finally have all the answers I have been looking for and I’m left with nothing. I have no home. No car. No phone. No friends. No one except myself. My worst fears have happened. Except one thing.
The one thing I feared most about expressing my anger is that I would lose my stability. It turns out that the opposite was true. By not acknowledging my feelings all those years, I was unstable. I was out of control. I had created an entire life built on a lie that I didn’t feel what I actually felt. And that lie made me unstable. It was a house of cards that came tumbling down the moment I felt the truth. It was the opposite of what I expected. Once I decided to be honest with myself and allow my feelings to tell me what I needed to hear, the life I had built on sand fell apart.
What I didn’t realize, because, how could I when I was surrounded by people who preferred the lie? What I didn’t realize was that acknowledging my feelings made me true to myself. It enabled me to have a preference for the kind of people I surrounded myself with. It enabled me to decide what kind of person I wanted to be. What kind of things I prefer. When I acknowledge my own feelings, I can see the way other people actually feel and I can stop trying to make people and situations into something that they aren’t. It seems so simple now. But I had to go through all of that drama to get to this point.
At this point I can see that no matter where I am or who I am with, I am safe as long as I take care of me. My feelings are important. It is not necessary for me to be anything that I am not just to please other people. It’s ok if my dad is angry and unhappy. It says nothing about what kind of daughter I am. It’s ok if the world doesn’t understand me. It says nothing about what kind of person I am. I can stop trying to be the perfect Christian. I can stop trying to be the perfect wife and the perfect mom and the perfect everything to everyone. I realize now that nothing I do will please the people around me and it is not my responsibility to make everyone happy. It is not possible to please everyone. It is not possible to please anyone. Everyone has their own feelings and nothing I do will make them feel the way I want them to. Nothing. So I have let go. I have released myself from the responsibility of carrying the burdens of the world. It’s not my job. My job is simply to be myself. My job is simply to be the best version of me I can possibly be. That is all. It is all I can possibly do.
My anger came from trying to please everyone and for feeling guilty that I couldn’t do it. I did not fail. I have not made any mistakes. I have simply learned who I am. And as long as I am true to myself, I cannot fail.
For the first time in my life, I don’t feel angry anymore. I have cried all I can cry about the past. I am empty. I have reached the bottom of the barrel of pain. I have scraped it dry. I have finally come to understand and accept that everyone is allowed to feel the way they feel. Including and especially me. I no longer feel the need to control or manipulate. It is over. It is time to allow things to just be what they are.
It is quiet in my mind. I don’t hear the critical voices telling me I should be doing something or not. The world is still making its noise. The people are still doing their thing. Nothing has changed. Yet, everything has. Because I have changed. I have faced my feelings. And I’m ok.