I’d have to agree with this:
I have no words to describe my loneliness, my sadness, or my anger.
I have no words to speak my need for exchange, understanding, recognition.
So I criticize, I insult, or I strike.
Or have my fix, abuse alcohol, or get depressed.
Violence, expressed within or without, results from a lack of vocabulary; it is the expression of a frustration that has no words to express it.
And there are good reasons for that; most of us have not acquired a vocabulary for our inner life. We never learned to describe accurately what we are feeling and what needs we had. Since childhood, however, we have learned a host of words. We can talk about history, geography, mathematics, science, or literature; we can describe computer technology or sporting technique and hold forth on the economy or the law. But the words for life within…when did we learn them? As we grew up, we became alienated from our feelings and needs in an attempt to listen to those of our mother or father, brothers and sisters, schoolteachers, et al. “Do what mommy says…Do what is expected of you”
~ Thomas D’Ansembourg, Being Genuine: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Real (based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication process).
I still have a lot of inner work to do. As long as I’m not triggered into an emotional upset, I’m peaceful, loving, compassionate (or so I thought, it seems like I really didn’t know what compassion really entails until recently). But I have a dark side, too, that’s hurt me, my husband, my daughters and at least a couple of my friendships.
I used to complain bitterly, at least inside, about why I would have to be the one who changed. The reality is, I’m the only one I have control over.
For the longest time I didn’t think it was fair and I was angry.
And then I realized being angry only kept me stuck. But I wouldn’t even accept that.
There is an interesting conversation in Eckhart Tolle’s Stillness Speaks:
“Accept what is.”
“I truly cannot. I am agitated and angry about this.”
“Then accept what is.”
“Accept that I am agitated and angry? Accept that I cannot accept?”
“Yes. Bring acceptance into your non-acceptance. Bring surrender into your nonsurrender.
Then see what happens.”
I had to laugh when I read that. I realize my nonsurrender hurts me more than anything. I can’t move on from the things I don’t accept.
What was the pain that anger would hide in my life?
A lot of things, actually:
- Complex-PTSD from childhood. Lots of junk from a dysfunctional family of origin that still haunts me from time to time.
- A career change from medical genetics to homemaker to substitute teacher seems easier on paper than it was in reality, especially when you spent your angst-filled teenage and young adult years insisting you were never going to get married and have kids when you saw first-hand how much pain and unhappiness it can generate.
- A lack of genuine friendship. All my old college friends and work friends from my laboratory days have gone their separate ways. Some I had to let go, because of the tensions created by mid-life (getting hit on by your male friends isn’t as flattering as you might think once you realize it’s not about you, but their flagging self-esteem).
- A husband who is recovering himself from binge drinking and the underlying depression and all of the drama that went along with both.
- Highly sensitive, emotionally intense and gifted daughters who didn’t come with instruction manuals and who had me and my husband (who both came from dysfunctional families) for parents.
- Being broke. Husband and I used to make 95k together. Our combined income from 2012 might be 6k.
- Mistakes from the past that I regret. Choices I’d made, thinking that while they wouldn’t solve my original problems, at least I’d feel some momentary relief from them. And it worked for a short while, until the piper had to be paid.
The funny thing is, I never wanted to be an angry person. I’d always been a low-key, live-and-let-live kind and actually a very loving kind of person (who also had played my part in the dance of co-dependence – taking on a peacekeeper role a lot). I just can see the areas of my life where being unable to communicate my needs (for safety, for deep understanding, for compassionate treatment, for the exchange of ideas, and emotional support) lead to a lot of problems in my life.
I know it’s not too late, but I already see the impact of my anger and my husband’s anger on our daughters and that’s a painful thing to me. But I’m hoping to learn a few things from all my seeking because I still feel angry from time to time.
I can’t find adequate role models or emotional support in real life, but I find a lot through the writings I come across.
Maybe someday all this wisdom will truly become my own.