Anger—rage—is a powerful force in our toolbox.
It is rare that I feel it, but when I do, I try not to suppress it too quickly. For it is the anger we hide that festers and rots.
Anger can hurt, but it can also heal—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the release of anger can be part of the healing process.
I have tried both shoes on for size—the bottling in and the self-expression, and I can say without doubt that expression has proved far more useful. Maybe you, too (whatever your situation) might consider viewing your anger as a tool to employ—not an evil to hide away in a dusty corner.
A recent, excellent piece on elephant journal inspired the writing of this letter. While I greatly admired the author’s compassion (yes, I understand her compassion was technically towards herself), I possess no such capacity for forgiveness and unconditional love. Or, maybe I choose not to seek it, but the end result is the same.
And I honestly think it’s okay to be angry, sometimes. It’s okay to move through a process of terrible anger, and placing an absolute premium on equanimity may not always serve us.
My hope is that this alternative will encourage someone else to feel okay with their anger—to allow it to burn and to boil before releasing it for good. For I do believe that what we do not acknowledge never truly leaves us.
And with that, An Open Letter to “Her.” (I write from my position as a heterosexual woman, but “Her” could just as easily be replaced by “Him.”)
You know who you are, though no one else does—that is the only blessing I see here.
I do not wish you ill, for I have, undeniably, been more than once in your shoes. I am you; or rather, I was you, and thus you are probably my karma come to call in old debts. (No, I know karma doesn’t work like that, but yes, I do believe we reap what we sow.)
And so, I cannot wish you ill, but I certainly do not wish you well.
I do not hate you; I do not blame you, for how could I when you owed me nothing—
And yet, the thought of you makes me sick.
Unlike my younger self, I know something now: had it not been you, it may not have been someone else. The past is the product of our joint labors, and I take responsibility for my part, but you had no right to add your effort to its construction.
I tried to warn you, or have you forgotten?
I tried to share with you the lessons I learned from my own mistakes: We cannot impose our principles on others. We cannot bend another’s path to our whim.
But you didn’t listen.
And now it is my tears upon the page—though I swear in another time it would be your blood.
And now it is the threads of my life in tangles—would there were a comb, I would drive it into your chest, so you might know my pain.
And now it is the hollow in my collarbones brimming with questions; the dip in my navel gripped by fear. Meanwhile, you fly free, and woman, I would gladly steal your wings to repair my own.
I remember my wings are not broken. I have no use for your strength, as I stand firmly in my own. And yet—still I would steal your wings, merely for rage.
I am no saint; I am not enlightened. When I allow my fury to rise from the depths to which I have banished it, it calls for an ancient kind of justice.
Do you know what I learned, all that time ago?
I learned that none of us are innocent—none of us immune. One day you will live to regret the pain you caused, as I have come to regret mine.
I do not blame you, woman, and I do not hate you.
But still—but still my anger rises, and though I know it is misplaced, such reason is helpless against my rage. I do not thank you, woman; there is no gratitude in my heart for you.
I feel no compassion when I look upon your face.
Do not touch these words, for they would surely set your hand on fire. Do not think to speak, for your voice is complice to his desire. Do not be sorry, for I know well how pathetic regret becomes.
Do not question my logic, for I have none:
I know my anger is illogical, but still it curls in flames.
I know my anger is misplaced. You owed me nothing; only he betrayed.
I know I “should” feel compassion, but here you’ll find nothing so tame.
You deserve neither my respect, nor my kindness. You have no need of my well wishes.
Sometimes there is no forgiveness; sometimes we pay a price for being free.
I know it well—so it was for me.
It is perhaps easier to forgive the ones we love, or perhaps more difficult to cast them aside. But you? You I never loved.
And so with these words I release you from my life.
With these words I release my anger, my hurt, and this terrible thirst for your blood.
Author: Toby Israel
Photo: Zak Cannon/Flickr