The upside of rage

WARNING: This post may contain triggers for some.  Feel free to skip it and come back when I’m feeling funny again.

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It was the day of my mother’s funeral.  I felt everything.  I felt nothing.

I was preoccupied with the endlessly demanding, tiny, minute tasks.  I couldn’t process all that I was feeling, I still can’t.  I’ve always been able to articulate myself, but to this day on the topic of my mother’s death I’m left with a profound sense that I have nothing to say.

All I have are fragments of thoughts, the stunted beginnings of sentences, complex emotions aching to express themselves but facing the brutality of an inadequate language.

So bear with me as I attempt to share a story with you.  A fragment of one of the worst days of my life.  One without a clear moral, or direction.  A story for story’s sake.

Two hours until funeral time, rather than being present in my grief and pain I was desperately focusing on slideshows, printing pictures, setting up a display, calculating the time it would take to drive across town to accomplish these things and knowing that it would come down to minutes to spare even if everything went smoothly.  Underneath these frantic thoughts, I was simply suppressing a multitude of emotions that churned below the surface.

Then I received a phone call.  This particular phone call came from a social worker that worked with my grandmother, and she told me that my grandfather was refusing to drive my grandmother to the funeral because she had been disrespectful to his new wife the day prior and now my grandmother was distraught because she might not have a way to her daughter’s funeral.

Suddenly, my temper snapped.  I am usually an incredibly calm person.  Due to the amount of tragedy and loss I have faced in life, my cage is hard to rattle.  That’s the upside to hard times, they make us stronger.

Not this day.

Rage bubbled up to the surface, blissfully eclipsing all other emotion.  I had done everything for the funeral, these two adults simply had to show up and they couldn’t seem to accomplish this simple task without complications.  The anger I felt was instant.

And here’s the thing; it felt good.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel broken.  I didn’t feel grief.  I didn’t feel pain.  I didn’t feel sadness.  I had fire running through my veins.  My eyes flashed cold and hard with ice.  No longer listless, I had energy fueled by unadulterated, exquisite rage.  I seethed.  I drew myself up to my full height, pacing my kitchen, cursing and ranting, barely restraining myself from screaming, about the immaturity of those more than twice my age.  I no longer felt overwhelmed. I was focused on one this one, pure emotion.  I suddenly felt powerful.  I was a force to be reckoned with.

I remember the stunned face of a close friend, who in more than a decade of friendship, had never seen me truly angry.  No one in the room spoke.  It seems as if the whole world was holding it’s breath, teetering on the edge of precipice.

Finally, my stepfather caught my eye.  He said quietly, “I know.  I understand.  I’m sorry, but you don’t have time for this.  You have more important things you need to focus on.”

His words were like a siren call to my logic.  I knew that swirling in that cauldron of emotion I carried had been anger at my mother’s suicide, anger at her and anger at the world.  Anger at a broken system that had fostered this tragedy.  I knew I was funneling all that anger through this incident because it gave it somewhere concrete to land.

I had a choice to make.

Taking a deep shuddering breath, I pushed the rage back down with visible effort and it slowly ebbed away leaving me once again anxious and afraid of the hours to come, the terrible day I still had yet to face.  Leaving me exhausted and drained from a week of too little sleep and too much crying.  Leaving me once again, feeling only heartbroken.

The allure of my rage was undeniable, but I had things to do.

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11 thoughts on “The upside of rage

  1. I’m sorry to hear about what you have been through, but thank you very much for sharing this. Anger and rage get a bad rep. I know I’ve pushed anger down simply because it’s a ‘bad’ thing to feel. But as you’ve pointed out, anger has a place and it has a purpose, just like all emotions. Sometimes we need to feel and we need to express.

    I followed this post to the post about your mother’s suicide. That was a very brave thing to share, and it was emotional to read. You wrote it (and this) very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Comments like these are wonderful to read, and thank you for taking the time to add your thoughts! I agree completely, you’ve hit the nail square on the head. As one of the negative emotions anger certainly does get a bad rap but it has it’s time and place, especially in the grieving process. It needs to be given the space and respect it deserves so that we can move through it.

      And please don’t be sorry! I’m not. The way I grew up made me who I am today, and I like that person. Also, I think that our emotional scars, if we let them, can make us more empathetic, more understanding, more compassionate, more beautiful people. I wrote about it here.

      And also thank you for your comments on my post about my mother’s suicide. It was one of the most terrifying things that I’ve hit publish on, because being that vulnerable (even in writing) felt a little like stripping down bare and taking a stroll down the street. Ironically, that’s what convinced me that I was probably on the right path.

      It was emotional to write, and I desperately wanted to convey that, but the story seems so much bigger than me I feel I’ll never quite do it justice. So I’m honored to hear it was emotional to read. It means I got it just a little bit right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely think you’re right, that our emotional scars shape who we are. Some days (I’m a little ashamed to admit) I wonder if maybe being unbroken would be worth the price of being a different, perhaps lesser, person. But it’s impossible to go through life and stay completely whole, so perhaps there’s not much point wondering.

        Thank you for linking me to your other post. It fits very well with what I was just thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry about this experience. I am familiar with the feeling of rage bubbling under the surface. I hold mine in most of the time and pretend to be pretty chill, but every once in a while I want to spout off and sometimes it’s the little things that do. I hope that writing this down helps you deal with this even a little.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your insightful comment and kind words. I do my best not to hold onto anger, and I think for the most part I’m pretty good at it. Occasionally, life gives us pretty good reason to be angry though, and I guess I just wanted to give this emotion a space to be talked about. Anger isn’t considered ‘socially appropriate’ and therefore is often suppressed and not given adequate space to be expressed, even though it’s complete natural and in some circumstances, even healthy.

      Although on the other hand, perhaps it’s just one of those stories rattling around in my head and I wanted to share.

      Either way, thank you for reading! 🙂

      Like

      • Thank you for allowing it come out. I think it is something that people need to hear, so thanks for letting me read about it. And you really are a very talented writer. And by the way, the other post about your mother’s suicide made me tear up a little. Thanks for that one too.

        Liked by 1 person

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