Bluebird Rising

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

On a Little Town Called “Boston” April 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 6:10 am

Guys. I’m tired.

And by tired, I mean irritated. And maybe by irritated I mean spiteful. And maybe by spiteful I might even mean vengeful. The point is, I have been searching for weeks and I still can’t find the right word. The point is, that even an ugly word like vengeful doesn’t seem that severe of a divergent from whatever this feeling is that has been clouding me for a few months.

For the first three weeks, I let the word vengeful scare me.

It might even scare you right now.

But don’t let it. We’ll get there. I promise.

So, until we find a word that describes whatever this is, let’s just use tired. It’s seems the most encompassing, at the very least. It’s been a combination of many things that has made me tired. This long journey into spring weather, that’s a big one. Or the fact that I have maxed out my employers annual allowance of funeral leave for every one of the last three years. It’s because, other than generous funeral leave, I continue to work at a sadistic job that drains me much more than the 40 hours a week I spend there. A job that I told myself I would leave before I became this hateful. A job that I now cannot, financially, afford to leave.

It gets tiring enough that even the little things begin to drive you crazy. You find yourself honking at drivers talking on their cell phones just because it’s your biggest pet peeve, though this point is virtually null and void since they’re always in the process of creating chaos anyways. It’s getting frustrated at people who hold up check-out lanes at the grocery store with their stupid ways of doing things.  It’s glaring at screaming children because they have idiots for parents, it’s wanting to offer snotty comments to people who move about the world without any regard to others, it’s realizing that hating people isn’t as hard as you had hoped.

Not that the world owes you anything. Not that your little mundane life is anymore important than anothers. You will even readily admit that millions of people have it worse off than you for no reason other than being dealt a bad hand. But you begin to realize that, how you were raised, that you must always strive to be good, and what you have been led to believe, that good and evil are always in battle with each other, is tiring.

And really, when you get down to it, it’s not even these situations themselves that are making me tired. It’s the effort that I put into them that starts to seem stupid. See, when you go for so long without seeing the benefit of being a “good” person, of being “nice”, of being “happy”, that is what drains you. That is what is making me tired. That is what leaves me with an angry feeling that I cannot define in words.

Me. No words. Imagine that.

And, it turns out, the reason you have no words is because you have never been given any. None that you want to use to describe yourself, at least. Because if you aren’t good, and nice, and happy, what are you? What does that leave?

I woke up yesterday to a text from Dex that said I should turn on the news. It was the first thing I did, and an hour later I found myself still fixated on the couch watching the aftermath of Boston. I was saddened, hurt, and confused. But mostly, I felt enraged. Enraged that people who blow up other people exist, enraged that this caused physical damage to so many, and enraged that this caused emotional damage across the country.

During this time, the same video footage circulating over and over on CNN, I also grabbed my laptop to catch up, since I had missed the first two hours while sleeping. I ended up, as we all do, also scanning social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Except that, what I found there, a mere hour or two after the incident, definitely wasn’t comforting.

Social media was inundated, INUNDATED, with quotes, and photos, and shared status updates from writers more eloquent than ourselves, about “keeping our faith in humanity.” About “looking for the helpers.” About how “only light can cast out the dark.” About how “we, the good, will always outnumber you.”

Not one person, NOT ONE, said that the events of the day made them sick to their stomach. That they couldn’t stop crying. That they were enraged. That they never entertained the idea of an eye for an eye.

These emotions, apparently, does not an adequate status update make.

Now, I understand that we are all coping, and that we all do that differently. And that, yes, keeping faith in humanity is important. Crucial, even. I love quotes, and photos, and reading writers  more eloquent than myself. In fact, I have entire notebooks full that I look at from time to time to evoke emotion when I just can’t find the words.

Again, what I was worried about was the timing. An hour after the news spread. Maybe two. To continue into the evening, and up to this minute, of course.

Here’s what worries me.

This immediate need for gratification of the good allows virtually no chance to feel anger. Rage. Hatred, even. It takes all of the negative emotions that “good”, “nice” “happy” people should not feel and packages them into neat little boxes out of our sight. It reiterates the image that has been promoted our entire lives; don’t waste your time feeling angry. Becoming enraged, maybe even envisioning an eye for an eye, makes you no better than the evil. Let’s heal by immediately focusing on whatever the salvageable “good” is.

The thing is, if we do not know how to give anger a name, welcome it into our emotions, acknowledge it and, in due time, release it in a healing fashion, how can we ever truly be “good” or “nice” or “happy?” See, inherently happy people are not born as a genetic anomaly, and they also are not all year-round residents of the warm beaches of San Diego. We choose if we are going to be happy. Every single day of our lives. And maybe to be at our happiest, we also have to feel all the feelings. The tough ones. The mean ones. The downright fucking ugly ones.

I want us to stop shying away from anger, and rage, and despair. They’re not only the feelings of evil people. They are not feelings that provide evidence that the bad side “has won.” They are a very valid part of the human experience, no less important, and nothing to be feared. Don’t deny they exist. And once you can do that, don’t rush past the feeling of them. Give them time to marinate, and mature, and grow into an even more educated experience of what choosing to be happy really means.

See, I tell you this because this is what has happened to me in my life. I had no words for the vengeance that I felt, because I didn’t want to admit that a part of me was “that” sort of person. I had grown up learning, from every outlet imaginable, that “that” sort of person was shameful. That “that” sort of person should be hidden. That I should be better than “that.”

And I became vengeful because that’s what happens to mild angers shoved down over time. And then it suddenly felt like too big of a problem to address; that which started as a minor, mental frustration had metastasized into a viciousness of tongue, thoughts, and actions.

And, in the end, I realized that I do need to feel all the feelings. That I had to yell about people in my car with my windows closed, and punch pillows, and drink too much wine, and cry burning tears, and write things that no one will probably ever see. It was because, and when, I gave it a name, and acknowledged it, and accepted it, that I could then begin the process of releasing it. And that is when it doesn’t seem scary and forbidden anymore.

I learned that good people can’t, and shouldn’t, and won’t, always be “good.” That we all think and imagine things that we would categorize as “evil,” but it is not our thoughts that define us, but our actions. That the more we fear anger, the feelings of it, and the process of acknowledging it, the more dangerous the “good” people of the world actually become.

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6 Responses to “On a Little Town Called “Boston””

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Amy,
    You have no idea sometimes, I think, what your writing does for me. For me, in this post, you are describing the journey through grief. I cannot thank you enough for putting into words these profound feelings. No backlash or hate from me, only much love and gratitude.
    Barb

  2. Snyder Says:

    I’m tired too. I think you’ve just helped me figure out why. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Stacy Says:

    Amy, this is an excellently executed post. I also saw all of the banners of hope spewed across social media yesterday and found myself annoyed. However, a friend of mine with close ties to Boston DID post how sick to his stomach all of the events made him; a status I couldn’t “like” (because I felt it to be morally wrong to say I “liked” a comment that was so gut wrenching and true) but instead I chose to comment stating “agreed”. He also took the time to work through his thoughts on the events on his own blog; http://theartificialswedeners.blogspot.com/2013/04/boston-marathon-2013.html .
    Anger has such negative connotations, but it’s definitely an important part of life, and an integral aspect of the grieving process.
    Thanks again for sharing your writing talents with us. You rock.


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