I LOVE this. I've heard it said recently that anyone can go through hell and come out having learned nothing, having not gained a deeper sense of love and compassion. Suffering does not automatically equal wisdom. It's possible to suffer and become bitter and jaded.I think we have all heard someone we know talk a big game about having become wise through a break-up, lost job, or disappointment, and yet their words are still spoken through a clenched jaw; it is clear to see the anger and rage nearly boil over at that moment.
Rage is natural. Anger is necessary. And yes, even bitterness is part of the palette of human emotions. I need to feel these things and suspect you do, too. But there's a difference between allowing them to blow through, throw us off course for a time, and letting them steer us back to a place of deeper determination and love, and simply being eaten alive by the suffering these feelings can cause.
Whenever I find myself a bit quick to prove my suffering has made me wise, it's a moment to pause.
What haven't I worked through yet?
What am I trying to rush?
What am I trying to hide?
I wrote the first draft of my book during a time when I had a day job that was not healthy for me, and so much of that first version was full of anger. It was so necessary for me to express and the very act of writing it out each day was a release that helped me get through that toxic time.
But when I reread the draft a few years later, I realized that it wasn't all that interesting. The anger on its own, without being crystallized into something representing action, hope, and curiosity about what the future might hold, felt pretty boring. So I thanked the past Melissa that had the wherewithal to essentially journal her feelings each day and essentially save her sanity that way, and scrapped that draft. I started over.
We absolutely need to feel all the painful feelings. There's no getting to tenderness without this step. But let's not forget that tenderness is the place to get to. It is easy to stay angry. To grow bitter.
But to go through hell and come out singing? What a beautiful possibility.
P.S.: And when you are feeling rage? I highly suggest a loud sing along of Totally Fucked from Spring Awakening. It is my go-to song for getting all the angry feels expressed in a way that helps me to feel better afterwards.