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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Not Angry Anymore

There's a line from a Matchbox 20 song: "...and it's good that I'm not angry...anymore..."

Anger is an emotion I run from with all my might. I've never found anything redeeming in the emotion and I always end up throwing up when I feel it. I'm certain it's because I don't really remember a time when my mother wasn't angry. There were short moments, but the anger always seethed beneath the surface. I was afraid of her anger.

Unfortunately, I've had to allow myself to feel the anger that has been stored up inside me for many years. Allowing that emotion was horrifying to me. As I knew it would, the result was that I was ill each time the emotion came. I found it creeping into situations unexpectedly, accompanied by self-pity at the misery I had been forced to endure.

The anger tainted my ability to reach out to others. Many times in the past two years I have been approached by people who had experienced things similar to the abuses I have felt. They wished for empathy. I had none. They wanted to talk. I could not listen. It was too much. The rage I felt for them and for myself threatened to consume me. I was left feeling horrible guilt as I let them know that now was not a good time for me to be of support to them, and referred them to whatever other source I could think of.

I was afraid I would be in this state forever. I realized last week that I won't be. I had a visitor to my blog. She, too, was not valued by her mother, and suffered emotional abuses which have left her hurting and sad. For the first time, I responded to this type of visitor by stopping by her blog. I wanted to say something--but there seemed nothing to say. Truly, can words help? I knew there were many times I found comfort in the words of others, but there were also times when words, intended to be loving and supportive, actually were harmful, sending me into despair. I didn't want that.

I read the blog of my visitor. She told of an experience where a person in her life tried to molest her. She told of how she was spared. She knew it had been through the intervention of the Spirit. A year ago, I would have been very upset to read that. She was spared--why wasn't I? Did God hate me as much as my parents did? Why would he not save me? Why?

This time, as I read her account, I wept. I was truly happy that she had not been hurt as I had been. No one should feel what I have felt--I have said that many times. And if she was the only child spared that agony, then life has goodness, for one innocent child didn't suffer. But the truth is, there are many who are spared, and that gives me hope.

As I watched the confirmation I mentioned in my previous post today, something else happened. At the end of the blessing, the tiny eight-year-old (who in stature was about the same size I was at her age), turned to her father with her arms lifted up. He picked her up off the ground so that he could cuddle her close and then he kissed her. When he replaced her on the ground, she turned to her uncle, who repeated the gesture, as did her grandfather and a close family friend. They were unashamed at the physical manifestation which demonstrated their love for her. I thought, I don't remember anyone kissing me as a child. I don't remember being held like that. Once again, I felt tears, because instead of the expected anger and agony, I felt joy for that little girl. I was so happy that she is being raised in an environment where she is comfortable being held and embraced by men and women. She expects it--as every healthy child should.

My thirteen-year-old daughter, in response to the spectacle, cuddled next to me and kissed me on the cheek. She, too, understands that love should be expressed. For the first time I understood why Therapist said that in stopping my family's cycle of abuse with my own children, I have done something monumental. My daughter isn't afraid of me. She loves me. My sons, now teenagers, still hug and kiss their dad and I.

And in the midst of all this, my anger is spent. I no longer feel pain as I watch others receive what I did not. I just feel happy, grateful that there are many who will not feel what I have felt.

That's a good thing.

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