I have been thinking about the idea of everything in this world breaking down, or falling apart at some point. Old dive gear corroding, the soles of hardly used shoes crumbling, faux jewelry tarnishing, hard-drives crashing, watches stopping, phones dying, tattoos fading. Nothing lasts. Everything ages. All things are replaceable and changeable. It’s a hard lesson to learn especially for a pack rat like me. Saving them gorgeous pair of heels for some big paparazzi-infested bash, keeping my dive gear for the next great scuba expedition, storing too many sneakers, bags, accessories, clothes and more shoes but not really using them, thinking that at any time I choose to use them they would still maintain their pristine, brand-new stature unaffected by time, humidity, bacteria and well, life. Only to leave a trail of crumby rubber sole in the school hallway in the middle of the day, find a broken zipper, an itchy necklace, or a Buoyancy Control Device I can no longer re-sell. The discovery of how fragile and mortal things are can deflate the spirit of the best of us and can leave a hollow feeling that we ultimately can not rely or control anything in this world. No matter how much you paid for it. Phhht.
I think I have recently accepted the finite nature of my “stuff.” It has taught me to simplify, to actually use my best and beautiful things right away instead of wait for a special occasion (imagined or otherwise). It has also taught me to buy one beautiful thing at a time. This world and the things of this world, no matter how much joy they initially give us, will certainly, almost always also let us down. I think that is a given. That is why it is so important to enjoy the ride, move with the cheese, be grateful for the best parts and humbly accept the worst parts. I have embraced the fact that things fall apart and have learned to be comfortable with the idea because again, it is sign of change and being able to let things go. Om.
Things falling apart are easier to handle though, than when it is people who disappoint us. Promises broken and agreements disintegrated can really crack someone’s peace but it does not have to smash anyone’s integrity to bits.
Yesterday, after a very long time, I felt a great deal of anger.
A colleague found me sitting in the middle of my classroom couch, jaw clenched, fists white, head down and forehead scrunched up like a prune. I didn’t know he was standing there until he said, “You look so serious.”
I remember looking up surprised, seething and seeing red, “I am so upset,” I muttered in a soft, controlled voice. “I am so so upset.”
Anger is something very familiar to me. It used to be my comfortable, default emotion. I liked to express it, swim in it, enable it. I used to romanticize the whole experience of my adrenaline pumping, my blood boiling, my tongue condescendingly lashing at the object of my fury and finding the many different ways to make that someone feel really small. But, I slowly but surely realized that going about my anger that way only made me feel smaller in the end and that I broke more things, significant and trivial that way; many of which I damaged permanently.
I found that after the pure expression of my wrath, I would often regret saying many stupid, painful things. I also didn’t relish seeing the monstrous version of me — red-seeing, ribs heaving, teary-eyed, entitled woman of the wolves with a superiority complex.
And really. For a long time now, I have stopped wanting to identify with my Tyler Durden.
So it was a challenge yesterday, to manage my own incredible hulk rising from the deepest, angriest, most familiar part of me. I was ready to charge, pounce, bitch, moan and throw a tantrum from hell, like I used to.
Instead, I looked at my new friend and just said, “I am so upset.”
He asked me if I wanted to vent, and in my most professional demeanor, I just said, in not so many words, “I feel like someone pulled the rug from under me. Um, am I over-reacting?”
To make a long story short, I didn’t let the green, angry me come out. Instead, I took a deep breath, confronted the person involved, talked to my direct superior, listened to her advice, calmed down, went to small group to re-group and ran straight for 60 minutes soon after. It helped to stop and take a minute to breathe, give someone the benefit of the doubt, get solutions from the right people and just not let the green angry person out – my Tyler Durden who would’ve kicked the living bejeezus out of that person who I felt, in a way, stole something from me by breaking her word. It also helped to run till my knees ached.
In the end, even if everything in this world breaks and many things we have learned to count on, can and will fall apart and let us down, we can hope that friendships can still heal through forgiveness and compassion and be humbled by the knowledge that we also made our own unique mistakes during our first year of full time teaching. It happens to the best of us. We just have to be willing to bring out the mighty bond to try and fix or rebuild what has been lost and honor what we feel in the most constructive and productive manner. I was really angry sure, now I need to get over it and channel the fury into forgiveness. Because, hell, I was forgiven. And I am now able to forgive, precisely because I was first forgiven.
grateful slice: overcoming anger and forgiveness