I have to continue this theme I have had lately about anger. For some reason where I am today requires from me a closer examination not only of myself, a task I believe to be important, but also demands that I try and begin to figure out this anger I have coming from each of my pores. I am compelled to look at this anger that sits on my skin as if I deliberately dressed myself in the colors associated most with it. I literally have this desperate need to understand the breadth and width of this anger.
I know that the anger that I feel in my soul affects every aspect of my life. I have been to enough therapy to get that from the first time I sat across from some nameless and blob like figure of my memories trying to talk me into their way of thinking. I know from the cliché and little ridiculous and oftentimes meaningless words that great people from this history and others have tried to use to convince people that either world peace is possible or at least that there is a joy to be found in getting rid of the emotions that control us.
But on the other hand, I am mentally ill. Emotions control me. They determine what triggers those nightmares and they determine who I will be tomorrow. Emotions are like the bread and cup of water keeping me alive after years of chaos. I am lucky these days that I can try and at least attempt to only have one emotion at a time. More times than not I actually have so many emotions cramming themselves into the spaces of my life that the chaos looks like something out of a science fiction novel rather than the beauty it can be in such works as the great mathematics.
I know that putting anger above other emotions such as love, lust, or even the ever popular deliriously happy gives it weight. It allows anger to become a person, a being that sits and judges until we are rendered useless. I wouldn’t even go see the latest Pixar movie because I didn’t want that creature (from someone else’s imagination) to be the face I associate with my own anger. I would rather my children just skip that one. Who wants the little person (was he red?) to begin to represent the angry moves of those bows on the cellos and to begin to represent the drums driving me to find the sweat of release? I would rather anger remain powerful but without an actual name from a Disney movie.
But on the other hand I am not sure that there is much choice. Whether we wish it or not, whether we attend a child’s movie or not, anger is there and it has weight. I don’t think we get to assign it a number and ask it to wait in line until it is its turn. I don’t think we get to take anger out whenever we wish to play with it and then tuck it back into that really gross gym locker with the lost socks of our past. Anger sits on us and it doesn’t go away. It is part of us and while they all tell you to deal with it, typing today, knowing what I have thought the last couple of days, I am wondering where this compulsion to examine this anger comes from.
I am a person who has very colorful and very thick masks to cover and control any situation that I may be in. I have them to protect myself. I have them to protect others. I keep them in my pocket to use at a moment’s notice. They each have weight and they each have purpose and they each have a time and a place that they are necessary. I recognize that this is part of the person that I am. I need those masks to get through the day. I need those masks to be able to function within a world that seriously wishes otherwise.
I had a therapist who told me the masks are important; that they were even a smart coping mechanism for people that feel too much. I suppose sitting in an ER while my child is examined and donning a mask of calm and responsibility is probably wise. Helps those poor nurses when they don’t have to deal with the hysteria of a mother. I am often a hysterical mother hidden behind those thick and colorful masks; the masks are just perfect enough to hide it.
But what if the masks are used not for good but for avoidance. What if we take the masks that we have spent so much time and energy creating and use them to hide the things that we don’t want to see? The unpleasant reality of life? What if we put on masks not for the benefit of those who do not deserve to deal with our true selves, but so that we can hide from what we really are? What if we build masks to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and at least if not accept the image at least hide from the truth that is beyond our sight? What if the masks are our excuse to walk away from that which all the poets, the writers, all the artists say we must confront? What if the mask is our excuse to avoid the pain of who and what we are when no one is looking?
I am examining this anger. I am looking at it sitting on my chest and wondering what, beyond recognizing the color it seems to always wear, that I am supposed to do with it? And despite the fact that it is right in front of me behind the million masks I wear, I have no idea how big it is. I have no idea how much forgiveness it is going to take to be able to see deep into the heart of that anger and finally, finally comes to term with it. I have no idea where to start to lift the layers. Its a blob. It is right there and won’t let me define it in any way but by its ridiculous presence.
How do I change for the better if I can’t even get the barest of clues as to what I am dealing with? And if we are perfectly honest with oneself, how much harm will be caused simply by lifting that small corner and seeing what is beyond it? The very real problem I am having in going forward may be a result of the fact that not only do I not know how to lift that blob and look under it but I am not sure what kind of healing will eventually answer my own need to be solved.
The cost of truth, much like the cost of lifting away the veils, is one penance that must be paid. But it is paid in pain, confusion, shock, and above all disappointment. There is no way to cover that truth with a simple mask.