I learned something about myself tonight.
Until tonight, I did not really know what it feels like to allow myself to be angry. I thought I did. I know what it feels like, but I didn’t really know what it was like to allow myself to BE angry. I can intellectualize my way around just about everything. I can come up with fancy words and metaphors and stories, and I can think my way through a whole heck of a lot. I can come up with neat little word packaged emotions for you that fit the description of what the emotion feels like, and I can come up with about 10 different interventions for working with it, but I learned tonight that sometimes, I’m pretty much just full of crap. Feel free to call me on it in the future. I see it now.
I don’t really want to put words on it just yet, because…well…it was kind of intense and my whole body feels kind of raw from the experience. Raw and wired. I need to get to bed, but there’s no way that’s going to happen right now. Words are how I understand things and put them to rest, so I think that’s what I need to do.
Things have been building for me for a really long time. A really fantastic friend sent me a care package, which I received this weekend, to remind me to take care of myself…and I tried. I really tried. I can honestly say I made a concerted effort this weekend, and actually, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for that. I was ending this 3-day weekend feeling pretty good, thanks to some really hard work I did because, for me, self-care is hard work. It’s not something I do naturally or well.
I have some reservations about this week for several reasons, and I know that certain aspects of this week are going to be difficult for me. I’m not 100% sure how to deal with that yet, but I made sure that I had as many things in place to make myself able to deal with this upcoming potential trigger in as healthy a way as possible. I’m really trying here, folks. I really am.
I made a really fabulous dinner (potato and chickpea curry with rice…yum!), and had just finished that, was washing dishes and listening to some of my favorite music when I got a phone call. The details of the phone call aren’t necessary, but the caller essentially (a) told me how irresponsible and negligent I had been this weekend and (b) told me how I had let them down. This caller is someone who has a significant impact on my life and, as much as when I was 5 years old, if I feel I have disappointed someone, I will pretty much fall apart. I did not miss some big essential duty. I did not mess up anything. It was merely this person’s viewpoint, without having all the facts (although she should have been able to know, really).
The work I had so carefully done this weekend crumbled like a house of cards. I turned to a not-so-healthy coping strategy, which helped, but not enough. When I get upset (angry, sad, really anxious, whatever), my body shakes. I hate it in a really big way, but I couldn’t stop it from shaking.
I ranted in my head and attempted to rationalize away my anger and frustration, but couldn’t. I needed an outlet. A physical outlet. And I needed it sooner rather than later. I grabbed a pillow from my bed and squeezed it, hard. Didn’t work. Harder. Nothing. And then, I just…I snapped. Really. Something inside me just went “POP,” and I started beating the hell out of my mattress with my pillow. Again. And again. And again. And again.
I am more than certain that I looked like a crazy person. My hair fell out of its clip and went all over the place as I walloped the mattress harder and harder. I must have been screaming, because my throat hurts like you wouldn’t believe. And I wasn’t just angry about the phone call. I was angry about what’s to come this week, and I was angry about self-care being difficult, and I was angry about things I swore I wasn’t angry about any more. I was angry about things I didn’t even remember being angry about. It’s like the anger is stored in my muscles, and when I gave it the chance to surface, the memories and the emotions all bubbled up my bloodstream.
When I couldn’t raise my arms again, I put the pillow back on the bed, and walked back into the living room. The poor dog was cowering behind a chair, having never seen anything quite like that, and I laid on the floor and cuddled with him, saying, “I’m sorry” over and over and over and over again. I tried to convince myself I was apologizing to the dog for scaring him, but we both knew it was more than that.
I am very conscious of my mind tempering everything I’m writing right now. “Calm, now. Calm. Calm. Calm. People don’t know you turned into an angry idiot this evening.”
And really, you don’t. Of course you don’t. But I need to share it because it’s important, and because I can update my self-care post from yesterday. Yes, sometimes self-care is about dental floss. And sometimes—sometimes, it might need to be about beating the crap out of something indestructible and letting some of those bubbles rise to the surface.
Nobody ever tells you self-care can be a very scary experience. But it can be. I know. My body still doesn’t want to let it go.