Is there a forum where I can be artistically angry? I mean sure, I could write bad poetry (I have, and you’ll never ever see it), I could paint with total lack of skill, using a lot of reds and maybe a dagger to slash the canvas with when I’m done, or I could do something like cover myself in blood and stand on the street corner and scream about the patriarchy while throwing KoolAid soaked tampons at passing cars. Frankly all of that sounds fun, but none of it satisfies my need to express myself right now.
My particular creative medium is sitting down and writing the exact words that I am thinking. Doing anything else feels like blurring lines that I need to see with total clarity. I feel angry right now, and not even at the patriarchy like I mentioned before, though a version of that anger never really leaves. The intense anger I feel is juxtaposing some intense feelings of happiness and hope, which sounds about right because my brain has yet to let me experience any feelings in a straight forward manner.
One stem of my current anger leads to the usual suspect, diabetes. I want to break up and I want it out of my life by the end of this sentence. I give it a portion of my attention instead of my full attention, and it tries to kill me. I try to have a good time and push the envelope a little, and it tries to kill me. I do everything it wants and make all the right choices, it still tries to kill me. Diabetes somehow weasels its demands into every single decision that I make, big or small, and I will never have the freedom to opt out. This is a toxic and abusive relationship, and I want out.
I’ll leave the specifics of my recently failed marriage alone for the sake of this post, but I can follow another vein of anger to a rapid succession of major life changes that have occurred over the past 6 months. I went from working a full time job where I made more money than I ever had and was more proud of than anything I’d ever done to getting laid off from that same job in December because of budget cuts. So I had no job and had to get on my husband’s medical insurance. Then I got a part time job making less money than I had in over a decade (a decade of paying my dues and working my ass off to climb the proverbial ladder, no less), and for a few weeks, I didn’t mind how little brain power this job took. But only for a few weeks.
Then the husband and I split up and filed for divorce. I had no backup plan, no savings, no place to live, no full time employment, soon-to-be no health insurance, so I had to pull some shit together fast. I collected a few part time jobs, moved in with my parents, hired an expensive lawyer, and made a decision to go back to a career that I previously spent 2 years trying to leave. An emotional, difficult, intense, demanding job that I’m good at but unsure if I can afford…but they offer health insurance. Meanwhile I continue to work a second part time job.
Then my dog I’ve had for 12 years got sick and died. Because let’s let the shittiest thing I can possibly think of happen right now.
Then I moved into an apartment for the first time since my 20s, without my dog for the first time since my 20s, and I still don’t feel like anywhere is home. People come over to the apartment and I’m like, “Come in to whoever’s place this is that happens to have all my stuff in it.” I have to leash the dog when he has to pee. I have to make sure I’m wearing pants if I need something from the car. I get to listen to the neighbors have sex and yell at each other, sometimes at the same time. Less than a year ago I owned a house with a yard and a car length or two between the neighbor’s house.
And now I’m trying my hand at dating again, and I’m having a wonderful time, but also one year ago I was trying to get pregnant and raise a human being, and two years before that I was in a hospital at the very lowest point my life could ever get watching my worst fears come true, and every now and then I just want to shake someone (it doesn’t matter who) and yell,
HOW THE FUCK DID I GET HERE???
The funny thing is, though, that for the first time that I can remember, the people in my life who know me the best are consistently saying to me, “I am so glad to see you’re yourself again,” and, “It’s nice to see your personality back again,” and, “Welcome back, I’ve missed you!” It’s true too, somehow. I am not dragging the weight of the wrong life behind me anymore when I try to accomplish things. I have energy, I have a sense of humor, I have an inability to take life too seriously, I have compassion, I have all these things that have been just ghosts of memories to me for a long time.
When I was young and in my church days I recall a youth group leader once giving us a riddle that we were supposed to discuss and solve as a group. I don’t recall the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of, “How do you transport a fish in a truck across country and ensure that it arrives alive and fresh?” This entire line of questioning was irritating to me, and not just because my first natural reaction was (and is), “Who the fuck would waste so much fuel and use up so many resources to transport ONE fish across country and keep it alive? Is it a magic fish? Will it cure cancer?” (They didn’t let me talk much in that church group) It was also irritating to me because each solution we came up with was deemed “wrong” by the leader because it wasn’t what was written on the back of his card. This is really a whole other discussion on the ways religion has damaged me, and it’s not even my point here.
My point is that the solution we came up with has stuck with me to this day. Keep the fish alive and fresh and strong by putting a shark in the truck/tank with it for the entire trip. That fish has no choice but to constantly adapt and develop new skills to avoid being eaten by the shark and arrive at its destination alive. When that fish arrives alive, it will be one of the strongest, most capable, most interesting fish you’ve ever met. It drove across the country with a shark and lived to tell about it. There’s nothing that fish can’t do now.
Whether or not that was the “right” answer to the youth group leader’s riddle, it’s an apt illustration of life’s struggles, for which there often are no right or wrong solutions. I’ve had a shark chasing me for a while, but it’s only made me better at surviving. The better I am at surviving, the more prepared I am to thrive. So the anger can stay for now. I think it has earned a right to be here. All it’s doing is just helping me find better ways to move forward.