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Friday, September 9, 2011

A gift of anger

In imagining we don’t expect to see gifts come from another’s anger. Don’t expect them and don’t look for them.  If we have moved past the fear of another’s anger, we may just tolerate the outburst, attempt to sooth them in their distress, or even send them packing to another space – be it a room in the house, with friends, to a therapist, or the bar. 

In general, we rarely look closely at what the offering may be. I have found that when people get really anger they lose their inhibitions, relax the censors, and finally speak the truth. When the niceness slips away and the teeth are bared you can actually see what you are working with.  And as long as we stay out of fear, we can see. We can watch as another moves into hurt and vulnerability, as they expose the innermost parts. Perhaps, we can even remember that we love them. 

Of course this means that only one person can be angry at a time, and that the angry person has the full attention of the other. Given clear and present attention to express our feelings, we can deplete the rush of anger and share our deepest fears. 

The gift is truth. It is the opportunity to come to understanding. It is clarity. And more often than not, it is access to the answers we have been seeking that may have been hidden or ignored. It is the chance to express our humanness and our divinity as well. The gift is learning to be with what is, and noticing that it is not anger.

I once shared two homes – one with my children, another with my lover. We have been apart (as in broken up) since the end of the Lenten season. During that spiritual processing rather than growing closer, we grew even farther apart. So far in fact, that there was little to entangle me any longer. Even in this state we have continued to text, visit, and occasionally spend the day together. And as I shared a space, I had LOTS of STUFF there. In all the diligent work I am doing to rid my person home of excess, I remember in the back of my mind that I have a massive amount to sort through there as well. So, I thought I would get this (my personal home) together and slowly, very slowly gather a few of my things at a time.

We have seemed on friendly terms, so imagine my surprise when I arrive for a scheduled visit to find that all my belongings have been removed from the shelves. Yes, of course, I expected that some day they would be gone and had offered that my belongings could be left on the deck. But this was out of the blue. We had been texting the last few days with no mention of this process.

The explanation was that in anger all my belongings were collected and bagged. The End. No thought as to what would happen next.  Lots of BMW (bitching, whining, and moaning) later and here it is, “If you won’t be who and what I want you to be for me, then to hell with you.”) Fine. That’s what breaking up looks like, but really, we are months behind being apart. No matter. I gather my stuff and leave.

Now I have a car full of even more stuff that I really love. I brought home empty box and decided to leave outside those items I am willing to release. They will be ready for the garage sale in two weeks. Other things will have to wait a bit as I think about space.  I am working to be free of clutter and it’s hard to tell the difference between really cool stuff you love and things to release when the house is full up.

In this reclamation process, I found my eye glasses. I have a wonderful large mirror which will go upstairs. I have my espresso coffee pot, back. I wanted to bake and was running low on supplies. They were all returned. My tea collection has greatly increased. Yet, more I will not have to replace so soon. Books, books, and even more books. My grand-daughter will have more toys and as she has not seen them since spring, they will be new again. Plus, even more toys to give away. 

Initially, I was hurt by the space being emptied of my presence, especially in the face of proclamations of undying love. With those words I charged that there was nothing left for my comfort. Finally, I acknowledged that I was not actually coming back to visit, so there was no need to maintain a presence there. In this way, the outburst of anger moved me in a place I had been dragging my feet. I both needed to get my things (because I wanted them) out of the space and to prepare for the next movement in my life. 

There were some things that were not included. I now release them. Some were gifts. Others perhaps fit so well into the décor they were not recognized as my contribution. While I notice their absence from my personal home, I am willing to manage without them. 

I am blessed to have more than I need, and I am thankful. From this abundance I live and share and grow. 

May you find your heart open and your attention free.

And may you notice the lessons wherever and however they are offered.

I got half-a-dozen paintings from that shattered plate.
                                                                   Georgia O'Keeffe

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