Monday, May 21, 2007

Anger & Hurt

Don't fear your best friend
Cause a best friend
Will never try to do you wrong.
Don't fear your worst friend
Cause a worst friend
Is just a best friend who's done you wrong.

"Never Too Late"
Michael Franti & Spearhead

A little over a month ago, someone I love and respect hurt me. Even at the time I could see that he didn't mean to hurt me, that in fact he was speaking from a place of hurt himself--the worst kind of hurt, the kind you feel when someone you care about is being hurt and there's nothing you can do about it--but knowing that didn't make it hurt me any less. All those vague referents might not make any sense, but suffice it to say that there was a lot of hurt going on.

It didn't take long for that hurt, on my part, to turn into anger. How dare he attack me like that? How dare he accuse me of those things? I've spent the past month and a half carrying this anger around, thinking of all the ways I could tear down the logic of his arguments and prove he was in the wrong. Then I would realize I didn't really want to do that. Then I would feel guilty for feeling so angry. Then I would get angry at myself, and sooner or later the anger would shift back to the person who hurt me and the whole thing would start over again.

The problem was big enough that Tolkien Boy grew concerned for me. He insisted I talk to my therapist about this anger, which I then did, briefly, in our first session. We didn't talk about it much, though, until today. Today Therapist suggested I try a process that involves writing down everything you feel about the person you're angry at, then you question the things you've written, then you turn them around to essentially see yourself from the other person's perspective. I told him the problem is that I always jump straight to that third step and all I end up with is guilt and anger at myself. So he suggested we just do the first step--writing down what I was feeling--for the sake of allowing myself to feel the anger, since I seem to try to skip that step. I wasn't too far into my list before I realized I was stretching to find things I was angry about.

"It's like eating," said Therapist, "or, if you don't mind the metaphor, like taking a crap. You feel a strong urge to get it all out, and once you do, you're done. The important thing is to make sure you dump your shit in the toilet, not in the living room."

I don't pretend that writing a list magically cures me of all the anger I've ever felt, but it was nice to experience it and then be done with it, at least for today. Tonight I'm at peace.

Which brings me to the answer to Leslie's question about how people have hurt me in God's name. This afternoon I composed a response in my head, venting some of the anger I feel at the people--to be clear, people other than the one the rest of this post is about--who have hurt me in God's name. Tonight, though, I realize that I don't want to write that post. Perhaps I'll write it for myself, to allow myself to experience that anger, but I need to keep my shit in the toilet, as it were. To air my grievances here would do no good. So my answer to your question, Leslie, is that whatever hurt has been done to me in God's name, it was done with the best of intentions, I was complicit in it, and it is nothing compared to the hurt done to the gay people who have been attacked, beaten, or killed in the name of religion. And holding onto it will hurt no one but myself.

1 comment:

Scot said...

I’m sorry you’re hurting Ben.

The worst part for me, in such a situation, is that there’s so little to be done when hurt for another’s faith, and I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence.