Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. –Buddha
I’ve been juggling a lot of hot coals lately. Many have been political, and my fears for the future. Many have been anger, at both people on the same side as I am and people of other sides. The primary source of my anger was feeling dismissed. Dismissed by my friends, who seemed to feel that if I wasn’t in a constant state of rage, I wasn’t “angry enough,” or not understanding, or giving up. I felt attacked when I tried to speak to them about it, because it felt like nothing I said would be good enough. I felt dismissed by people on the other side, who said my fears were unfounded without listening to what I was saying.
On top of these, I have work, holidays, and money to juggle. They’re not terrible, but the sheer number of tasks was overwhelming. I felt like my holidays were being ruined from the stress of the political climate, and I resented it. I felt like I wasn’t a good mother to my girls, due to my fear and anger. I couldn’t sleep. I had food binges. I stayed away from people.
And who gets hurt? Me. Ultimately, the question is this: does the president-elect or the government care whether I get along with the people who voted for him, or didn’t? No. Do they care if I sleep, how I eat, my mental health, or my family? No. Does arguing with people on Facebook make a damn bit of difference in the world? No.
I’m dropping my coals, one by one. I withdrew from social media, only posting fun things, but no longer reading. I focused on my girls and my work. I stayed home, or went shopping where things were pretty. I made my girls an advent calendar of good deeds, and I’ve been trying to do them too, making the world a little better a step at a time. I’m tired of being angry. I’m re-centering and trying to focus on what I can control, what good I can do.
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean lying down and taking what’s given. It means not letting your rage smolder and burn you any longer. I’m still writing letters to senators, and doing what I can to change things with the power I have, but trying not to enrage myself in the process. To quote Dr. Susan Gelb, “Forgiving someone doesn’t meant heir behavior was okay. What it does mean is that we’re ready to move on. To release the heavy weight. To shape our own life, on our own terms, without any unnecessary burdens.”
I’m still going to fight for change. I just refuse to be burned while doing it.