Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Therapy Project, Week Seven: Let’s Be Hospitable to Anger



Last weekend was tough. After telling the story twice this time to the therapist, I was so immobile as to temporarily be unable to move my hand across the page. I was scared, jangled, and raw, and I got thoroughly convinced that she would never be back again, that she would abandon me and I’d be stuck in that surly, raw state forever. Of course she didn’t; by the end of the weekend I had two appointments, but the feeling that she was gone was no less real.

So guess what triggers me now: meditation. Are you kidding me with this? Sunday morning, I went with Gold Star Winggirl to try out the mindfulness group at church. I sat for a full twenty minutes (usually I average about five) and it was lovely—there was an emphatic robin trilling outside and rain on the window panes.

But then the fucking people started to talk. They talked about not being disciplined enough in their mindfulness, which strikes me as not just a first world problem, but a made up one at that—really?! Not enough of our lives are controlled, we have to make up ways to police our thoughts, too?

Then the woman to the right of me (I was secretly thinking of her as the Ignorant White Lady, since the week before we overheard her tell the anti-mass-incarceration speaker that she’d never heard of such a problem.) said that mindfulness helps her because sometimes she has feelings that she mistakes for anger when they’re really just vulnerability or pain. Others talked about mindfulness as a way to slow down their knee-jerk reactions. All of those things are reasonable to say, but they filled me with fury. I piped up (nicely) in favor of feeling all of our emotions and heeding our knee-jerk reactions sometimes.

Nothing bad happened at all, but after I piped up I felt like I’d gotten in trouble for something. I was terribly frightened, angry and nauseous. Maybe it was just that we were in a circle taking turns talking just like when we were being questioned by the police in the end of the Bad Thing story, or maybe it’s just what mindfulness brought. By the time we were taking a short second meditation, I was fully upset and wanted to run out, but stayed put so I didn’t disturb anyone’s peace.

I apologized to GSW for “letting her down.” That’s how it feels when I can’t adjust to things, when I can’t fit in. A lot of the time lately, I feel like I’m failing at some basic and easy human thing. I envy her her ability to mingle in groups, to take them or leave them instead of always feeling under attack. This fear of groups is something I’ve always had, but it’s getting worse and worse as the Bad Thing fights to leave my system.

In a touching and odd demonstration of friendship, GSW snuck her church coffee cup into her purse—I’ve never seen petty theft act as a gesture of solidarity before, but it worked. We skipped the regular church service in favor of catching up in a café, but I never did shake the feeling of having failed her, of being disconnected, and I “knew” she’d be gone like all the other friends.

Though I didn’t speak angrily in the meditation group, I felt saturated and poisoned by anger there, and strangely this is probably a good thing. Each time I tell the Bad Thing story and get to the rape part, I can’t address the anger I feel, it’s too vast. Perversely, I try to tell it as nicely and charmingly as possible so I don’t scare the therapist or get in trouble. I guess I’m glad the anger is coming out, even if it is in vexing circumstances.

Even if I do weirdly try to be sweet when I tell it, it is the nastiest and deepest anger. The closest I’ve come to actually expressing it was during the Scary Party fiasco, and though at that time I felt like I would drown in it, I was still coming at the real issue sideways. I want to look directly at the anger: I’m pissed off two decades later that someone was inside me unwanted, that I was too robotlike to fight and kick, that I was used in such a senseless and pleasureless way, and especially that the experience stayed there in my hoo-ha, a minefield waiting there for any man kind enough to fuck me. That someone so vile and thoughtless could inhabit part of my body for so long makes me frustrated and livid. I’m angry that I may never have a real relationship with a man, that PIV sex may never feel safe and normal, that I never found a way to get the experience out of my body before now.

I think I’d like to make friends with the anger that I was so move to defend in mindfulness class. Instead of being scared and ashamed and letting it make me feel like a monster, I want to embrace it. I’m angry. I’ve always been angry. It’s one of the emotions that humans have and it happens to be one that often motivates real change. Anger deserves just as much care and love and therapy hours as sadness does, maybe in this case, more.


All those years ago and since, I was so overwhelmed and terrified and ashamed by the anger that the Bad Story brought that the only way I thought I could protect myself and others from it was to turn it inwards, where it lived as self-hate and sadness. But, as we’ve seen from all of my various reenactments, it’s only making me angrier that way. If I can welcome it, make it safe, and draw it out, maybe the anger will release me and make way for other emotions, for the next adventures.

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