This has been a crazy, awful week. On the bright side, though, I didn’t have to work this weekend. With the exception of a massive system failure, that hasn’t happened since … I can’t remember when.
I have a memory like a sieve. It goes in, it rolls around, it falls out. It has gotten much better in recent years, but still … chances are decent that something you tell me today, you will have to repeat tomorrow. It’s not that I’m not listening to you, it’s that unless it’s doomsday important, I can’t retain it. And your definition of doomsday important is likely to differ from mine.
As I said, my memory for conversations and events is much improved – unless I’m angry. Then I won’t remember it if you tattoo it on my forehead. That’s a defense mechanism I have been unable to change. It makes it really easy to win arguments with me by bringing up the past because I will have no clue what was said the first time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to compensate by A) mostly keeping my mouth shut when I’m angry (I said mostly, shut up) so that when it comes back to me, B) I can simply apologize (even if I was right) and let it go. If you’re asking yourself how I can know I was right when I can’t remember the disagreement, well, duh. I’m always right. Unless my mother is in the room.
A few posts ago, I admitted that I am angry. It is an anger is borne of a powerlessness and helplessness that I am not used to feeling. It has nothing to aim at, nowhere to go. My heart has been breaking for my mother every day for almost a year. I’m a fighter. It’s how I survived my childhood and how I got through my twenties before I was able to accept myself as I am – a lesbian. It is a habit that is a bastard to break, but over the last 15 years, I had a good handle on it. I will never be accused of being laid-back or mellow, but the anger was gone.
When my mother had the strokes, I trapped the anger, poured cement on it and buried it. Because anger served no purpose – there was no one to be angry with. Also, I had no time for futile emotions. But over the last year, it has wormed its way to the surface because with each day I just feel more powerless and more helpless. And still, there was no reason to be angry, but I couldn’t help it. I put out the little sparks as they happened and when they spilled over too far, I blamed PMS. Still, I mostly had a handle on it.
When certain things happened, like Dear Abby reading my blog, I let it out a little. It was something else to focus on. Until …
Mrs. Married*. That situation was way more complicated than she led me to believe, which got my moral compass in an uproar. And suddenly, I was not angry. I was furious, absolutely livid, in a rage. And I took all of the emotion of the last eleven months and I pummeled her with it. With complete and utter calm, without raising my voice, with a detachment that is fucking scary, I tore that woman apart. And then I left her bleeding on the side of the road, with no apology, no explanation, just a sneering contempt.
That contempt lasted all of thirty seconds. And now I am deeply ashamed that I could be so callous and cruel to another human being. How could I do that to someone when I know exactly how it feels? That’s what I grew up with, that’s what I spent half my life trying to get over.
My defense mechanism kicked in and I no longer recall exactly what I said, but I know it was bad. I know she didn’t deserve it. I know I let that anger off its leash and I hurt someone I cared about. And I know I did it intentionally. That bothers me more than anything.
I look back and see all the broken relationships in my past – and they all have one thing in common. At some point, I felt helpless and let the anger loose. And it burned the other person and destroyed the relationship.
So maybe the anger was never gone at all. Maybe I was just fooling myself and it was lying in wait all this time. The only thing I know for certain is that I have to fix it, once and for all. I can’t put a band-aid on it and call it good. I can’t pretend it’s not there or that it doesn’t affect me today.
I can no longer pretend I’m not broken.
And that? Gives me hope.
*Edit: I feel I should explain a bit more. I decided that seeing Mrs. Married was not in my best interest but she wouldn’t take the hint, even after I told her bluntly that I didn’t want to see her again. After repeated texts and emails, I finally lost my patience and my temper at the same time. To those of you who are more familiar with my life, the irony of it is not lost on me, considering what happened last summer. It opened my eyes in more ways than one, and for that much at least, I’m grateful.