Thursday, November 18, 2010

The inner brat

For some months now, my spiritual director has been encouraging me to get in touch with my inner brat. In her wisdom and experience, Anna can see all the anger that I've stored up.

I grew up a chronic good girl, frightened of the emotional repercussions of my feelings. Like many of us, I stuffed those feelings down with food, then alcohol, then food again.  Now 9 months off sugar and increasingly unwilling to eat over what I feel, I'm facing some parts of myself perhaps for the first time.

There have been some big repercussions to what I thought was a simple email of frustration sent out to a group last Saturday night. I was feeling particularly peevish--tired and on day 4 of a bad cold. And as you may remember, I'd been anxious for days about the retreat I was starting. I hadn't wanted an apology from the email sender, just an acknowledgement that I was irritated. Instead I got a response from a third party with a reminder about compassion and forgiveness and all of us doing the best we can. I then got angry at that and spoke that anger.

Efforts to be heard have not been satisfactory for either of us, and now I'm faced with a very hurt friend and a seemingly big mess to clean up. I'd been so proud of myself for speaking up, for saying what I was feeling, what I was perceiving. I'm not naive enough to think there are no consequences, that I have no responsibility for what I say. But how much responsibility do I have for how it lands?

I'm not holding my respondent responsible for how her lessons landed with  me. They made me angry and I said so. But that just occasioned more lessons, more analysis, more explanations. Now I feel mired again in this dance of correctness, of mediation, of working it out in some loving and forgiving way.

I don't want to be forgiven. I don't want to forgive. I don't think the circumstances warrant any of that. I just wanted to be heard and acknowledged. It seemed so simple. Apparently not.

3 comments:

Phoebe said...

Sometimes there is a place for anger. A thing happens and something needs to be corrected. It would be simple if there weren't egos involved. All this PC-ness has shielded people from actually feeling things, from living through the uncomfortable situations. They get glossed over. You have to be quiet and nice. When sometimes, something has to be done and it can't be wrapped up in a pretty package.

And if you don't let anger out with a little guided effort...it will simply burst forth...and often there's damage done.

sorella said...

Dear Jill,

Brava for speaking up and letting the "good girl" take a break and the "inner brat" speak out!

And I know my therapist would agree with me when I say that you have 0% responsibility for how that e-mail landed emotionally on the respondent. That doesn't mean that you don't care about her, or that you are unaware of how your anger is expressed. You yourself are able to acknowledge that your emotional reaction to her e-mail was not her responsibility.

hugs

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