WriteTogether Reflection: Week 8

This week I felt like my brain was just a tangled mess of noodles. It was hard for me to get into my writing flow, and words seemed like they kept getting stuck exiting the building. Part of that truly is just the time of year. My offices close for an extended break, and while I don’t work in crisis response anymore there is still a lot of pressure for time. And as a consultant, if I don’t work I don’t get paid, and money and I have a complicated relationship for so many reasons.  Anyway, this time of year in my office everything is everywhere. Projects and contracts end and renew, sometimes new projects are pitched and plans for the next year are made. Grants need update reports. All the wheels are spinning at a million miles an hour it seems. Add to that parenting a young human, trying to be a decent partner, preparing for holidays…my brain has a hard time keeping up. Which is amazing when I think about it, because my brain is always running full steam!

Anyway, as I am reflecting on the prompts from this week, a few things came up that made me realize another reason I was struggling to get words from the jumbled noodle of a brain to the document I use for my writing.

A pattern and a feeling.

One of the messages that was perpetuated during my growing up years is that anger is reserved for righteous causes, and joy comes from the lord. Evidence of joy and happiness in someone’s countenance was evidence of god’s favor and a relationship with god. More specifically, joy and happiness in a girl or woman’s countenance. A smile on your face was an expectation, indirect and unspoken expectation to find the good and happy things in every situation and to give god the credit for them all.

Anger on the other hand, reserved for righteous causes upheld by authority. Anger about lack of discipline in followers, anger about disrespect from others. Anger about audacity to believe a human gatekeeper was unnecessary to guide or guard the doors to heaven. To exhibit anger as a girl or woman would have been evidence of a lack of belief and an unwillingness to follow the lord. Anger was reserved for the men and boys, and was evidence they were right with god and god had given them authority over the earth. Anger, for a boy or a man, was acceptable and acting in anger was also acceptable. As long as they didn’t let the sun go down on it. Which, in practice meant getting the anger out before going to bed.

This pattern was evident in the churches I grew up in, as well as in the family I grew up with. I remember times when my anger, truly righteous anger, about the injustices I was faced with and the injustices I saw in the world around me, slipped out. I remember being punished for that, copying verse after verse from one scripture or another about how I should be silent and how the lord will handle those things. I remember songs and scriptures that were spoken or sung in my presence, about joy and happiness and trusting in the lord. Songs about being a good soldier.

Somehow in my mind I always recognized this as wrong, and I knew that it impacted and stunted my emotional growth. It actually is something I have worked really hard to heal from, to notice feelings and not attach a morality to them has really been tough. Looking at that sentence it feels like an absolutely ludicrous thing, but it is true. It has been hard. When your basic needs are dependent upon playing along with this kind of theology it is hard to untangle.

I noticed a pattern this week when I looked at the prompts and saw the one about anger. My brain stopped functioning. I felt tired. My body started feeling buzzy, and suddenly it felt like I had to go do something else. I literally stared at the open document for minutes at a time, with my hands on the keyboard, just willing myself to stay where I was. Very few words made it onto the pages.

Over the years I have come to see anger as an asset, it clues us in to so many things and it is so useful! But there’s still, very obviously, a part of me that thinks that anything other than happy, is a moral failure or evidence that I am going to hell or something. I didn’t quite expect such a visceral response, especially to something I had already spent so much time working through and have been in deep practice noticing my emotions, sitting with them and getting to know them. I had already been working to rewire my tendency to just bright side things – that trauma response to appease and stay safe – and still…

Even though I am co-designing and co-writing this journey, I still have things I wrestle with!

So many things swirling around in my mind right now as I look at what I have just written and reflect on how this week was for me. Life has a way of being full of interconnection. With everything that we untangle, there are so many more that become intertwined.

Clearly life is not experienced in a linear fashion, neither is healing.

Deep breaths.

Back next week friends!