What the Fire Gives: On Anger
The sky outside is the color of scrubbed steel. The lingering gray hangs heavy over everything in the city. Except for the occasional pop of color from the trees that poke through the cement in the sidewalk, everything feels like it’s been muted by the weather. It’s fall and I’m feeling salty as hell. I walk down the street exuding that fresh, death-warmed-over vibe that leads my neighbor to give me a wide berth while walking his dog down the sidewalk. I make sure to let everyone know exactly what I think about the shit storm that is our political system. I check out my groceries as if everyone else in line is personally responsible for voting Kavanaugh into office. I sign up to volunteer with local voter registration, and google “sword training near me”. The next person to offer me unsolicited advice on how to feel or respond might just need to get disappeared. I am Hulking out. I am. Always. Angry.
I’m not sure where to find balance in this white hot rage. That anger is always just under the surface these days, and I don’t really see that stopping any time soon. I’m not sure I want it to stop. What I do know is that I shouldn’t be an asshole to the person working the 7am shift at Mariano’s. I want to find a way to be present and constructive to people who want to do and be better. When someone is trying, I don’t want to bite their heads off when they say something egregious. But lately, I do. And I’m not gonna lie, it feels pretty damn good.
I’m trying to hold onto grace. I’m working to remember all of the (embarrassingly many) times I’ve been the one trying to do and be better, and I missed the mark, big time. For all of the people who have held love in the space of accountability. The people who have asked me to do my own work, rather than burning it down. Offering grace in the midst of anger doesn’t let others off the hook. It doesn’t mean suppressing anger. It’s offering the vulnerability that comes with showing up as my whole, pissed off, grief-stricken self, to ask for a little help, for God’s sake. I grew up believing that showing up like this, that fighting in general implied that something was irretrievably broken. These days I’m learning that showing up to hard conversations means that these relationships are worth fighting for.
I don’t hold onto grace because everyone deserves it. I hold onto grace because I do. I helps me burn but not be consumed. It’s a tether to the things I believe to be true, or can be. That the world can be better. That I don’t need to diminish myself to make others more comfortable. That grief and anger should not be silenced. That I don’t need to light the world on fire to assuage my grief. That I can hold onto rage and love in both hands.