“You’ve changed,” he says. “You’re selfish. You take care of everyone’s needs but mine. Your clients, your children, your friends. But never mine. Looking out for others, but never me.”
And he’s venting that at me. In emails. In text messages. In his tone and choice of words. In his silence.
It’s been some time since I have felt the brunt of someone’s anger directed at me personally. When they are making personal accusations. Lots of them. Angry at me for what I am doing. For what they think they have heard me say.
And for a moment, I freeze.
Is it true?
“You’re protecting the new self you have found. Putting up boundaries and walls and trying to control your environment. Trying to control me,” he says.
Am I? Or is that just his perception?
When someone is angry with you and making personal accusations, it can be easy to believe they must be right.
It is an interesting place to be tonight. To feel a calm part deep inside even while my mind wants to replay the messages over and over and engage. To defend. To fight back. To convince me I am now angry with him.
It was actually an incredibly brave thing for him to express what he did. And I don’t really want to fight. At least not at the moment. Because it’s not about being right or wrong anyway. It used to be. Oh, would I fight. Because I had to be right. And had to make sure he knew it.
Right now, though, It is about feeling.
And at the moment, he is feeling very, very angry.
I’m mostly okay with that. Because he is feeling.
For the rest of it, writing helps. It gets things out of my brain where the mental chatter will just twist them into knots if I don’t. And when I’m ready I will feel into what, if anything, those words mean to me. Perhaps finding anger of my own, perhaps not.
A wise friend once told me, it hardly matters what is intended by another person with their words and actions. What matters is what you do with it.
What do you do when someone is angry with you? When they are making it personal? When they are using words in a way meant to hurt you because they have been hurt?
Tonight, a part of me knows this isn’t about me. I have changed. What he calls protective I call honoring the self I have come to know and love. What he calls censuring and attacking, I see as nudging. There is no right. What matters is what I do with it. What he does with it.
And that we both continue to feel through what comes next.
Including the anger.
It is a necessary part.
I wasn't sure I was going to be posting on this writing challenge. Life reached out and slapped me in the face this afternoon, though, in a way that needs shared. Anger is a tough emotion to admit for some of us. I've been there. So very unwilling to even acknowledge what was simmering and beginning to bubble up on the inside. Stuffing down the emotions for a very, very long time. They eventually find a way out, though. Like they are with my husband tonight. They need to be felt. They need to be examined and honored. In all of us.
It hardly matters what he intended with his words. What matters to both of us is what we do with it from here.