I feel many emotions on a weekly basis. Joy, gratitude, wonder, awe, happiness, contentment, excitement, nervousness, frustration, hurt, upset – all of these are as well-known to me as my daily oatmeal. A new one popped up recently, and it’s one I haven’t felt in a long time.
It’s been so long, I didn’t recognize what I was actually feeling right away and once I realized it, it knocked me off balance a bit. Figuratively, and well, literally, too, since I was on a run and had to stop to process that for a moment. I think the last time I felt truly angry was early college, so I took a moment to get re-acquainted with this emotion. And wow, is it a powerful one. I’ve never been a yeller, but I understand a bit better why someone who is angry might raise their voice. I can appreciate how someone who felt something so strongly might slam their fist against a wall. I get why people have created places where you can pay to just go and throw a plate at a wall and watch it crash into thousands of pieces. (Though actually, research shows that that increases anger, instead of decreasing it. Oops.)
Clearly, I don’t get angry often. I think this is because I believe life is all about perspective, and I know everyone has a different perspective about, well, everything. One of my strengths is the ability to look at the context and see something from another’s point of view. In this situation, I was angry because I felt someone treated me very poorly. Everything happened months ago, but the more time and space I get from it, the better able I am to put everything into the correct context. Something happened recently that added another layer to everything and provided some new insight, which directly caused my anger.
I’m good at looking at angles, I’m able to explore various contexts and shades of gray, and I can argue my way into or around almost anything. But I can’t think of any possible context or reason that makes what I think I’ve realized about this person acceptable. And that, my friends, made me angry. All people, by virtue of them being human beings, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. That was not present here.
As I ran this afternoon, I reviewed the pieces that I’d put together last night. Like a puzzle, they all fit together all too well. And after going over it again, I came to an important realization: this doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not going to get any new insights or any answers. And to put it frankly, this person doesn’t deserve my emotional energy. They don’t deserve any time in my thoughts, nor do they deserve anything connected to my life.
All of this is not to say that I’m blocking out this person from my memory. There’s healthy disconnect, and then there’s repression. One is good, the other is not. I’ve spent some time over the past few weeks working through and better understanding the scars that came about from all this, and truly, I think I’m at a good place with those. For better or for worse, those are part of me now, and I believe self-knowledge is absolutely critical. Consequently, I can work on improving and understanding those pieces of myself without giving any more care to the person who caused them.
It’s been a few hours since that cathartic run, and the anger has subsided. There’s a little bit of disbelief still, and I think that might always be there. Sometimes I just don’t understand why or how people act the way that they do. But my peace is back. I know who I am and what I stand for, and I know that the relationships I have in my life right now are the ones that matter. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters most to me.