This week was a mindfuck. Forgive my crass language, but no other word captures the range of emotions that trampled me over the past couple of days. (I am not going to go into specifics, but suffice to say, I was challenged in a manner I did not agree with, in a setting I did not agree with and, perhaps most importantly, on a premise I did not agree with. As tempting as it is to share the details, I do have some parameters in my sharing that I must respect.) For the first time since George has become Jessie, I allowed someone to put me in a position in which I began to question not only myself but, in classic Julie style, every decision I have ever made in my entire life. What if, what if, what if.
In the throes of this Valium necessitating episode, I went from sad to angry to self doubting to depressed to panicky and back to angry where I ultimately stayed. This is highly unusual for me as my “go to” emotion (which often includes something fattening) is more often sadness than anger, particularly toward people who have, historically, anyway, been ardent supporters of me and my family. When I realized that anger was prevailing, it was oddly comforting.
Over these past few days I have been thinking (mostly at three in the morning) about the various events which have landed me on Planet Angry. I have shared the details of what happened with some of my closest confidants who, to a person, have agreed with my reaction. It is important to note that each of them would have set me straight if they thought there was any setting to be done. None of them did. Innately more self-confident than me, each one responded that they couldn’t imagine any emotion other than anger. Hmmmmm.
I am as imperfect as the next guy. I put up a good front and manage to pass myself off as being far more comfortable in my own skin than I really am. It is a quality that drove my parents (and now my husband, brothers, and close friends) crazy. (Not the good show, rather the internal struggle.) I know because they have told me. More than once. On the flip side, I have always taken pride in my integrity and good judgment. They are the two parts of my complicated self that I have never questioned and always maintained a high degree of confidence. That is not to say that I always do or say the right thing, but I never jump into something without (over)thinking and/or (pre)worrying about it. It was my brother Rob who pointed out to me why I was reacting with anger – it was because someone dared to do something that no one does to anyone in my family (we all pride ourselves on this) and lives to tell the tale: they called into question both my judgment and my integrity and, worse yet, as it relates to my kid. Gloves off. This is war.
I calmly confronted the person, addressed the situation and, in an uncharacteristic showing, never wavered on my position. I held my ground and had the courage of my own convictions which is something my father used to drill into my head, but I never managed, until now, to master. The good news is, I have come out of this feeling empowered and stronger. I have not let someone else bully me into believing something that I don’t believe to be true. I stopped questioning myself and, perhaps for the first time ever, am actually questioning someone else. I stayed on Planet Angry without any excursions to Plant Sad or Planet Self-Doubting or even Planet May I Blew This One. All were offering good deals, but none enticing enough to get me to visit.
I would imagine it sounds odd for me to be patting myself on the back for finding and holding onto anger, but it helps me to appreciate that I might just be achieving the only thing I have ever sought to accomplish: not only doing right by my kids, but knowing it.
I have packed my bags and am ready to leave Planet Angry and head for brighter spots. But, unlike my arrival, my departure is on my terms, on schedule and no extra charge for baggage. I plan on sleeping through the night without the benefit of a Valium and have a new level of comfort with myself that I hope sticks around. And while I don’t have any immediate plans to return to Planet Angry, I know now that it is a fine place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.