a friend of mine has written. I don't understand it either. I understand it less as I dive further into forgiveness. Or at least, understand that there is more to it than I had thought at first, that there is more to forgiving and seeking forgiveness than a quick month can contain. It makes sense to spend a month counting blessings, basking in gratitude. But even to me it seems a little strange to spend a whole month thinking about the negative, giving space to it. And to choose Christmas Day of all days to talk about angers?I don't understand this project
But in light of recent events, the dark and lurid light of recent violent events, what better day to open the door on this room, to sweep it clean of cobwebs and air it out, to chase out all its spiders and let a clear clean light shine in?
I do know that living with a child whose angers are new to us but not unresonant has exacted its toll. The timbre of our home has had to stretch and strain to contain and modulate his voice. We have had to sing higher and deeper to make a wider harmony. And our own old angers and frustrations have risen like fierce ghosts in all of us, have had to be addressed and laid to rest. Or at least danced with. There was one evening a month ago I threw a tantrum in tandem with my youngest son, shaking my head when he shook his head, throwing back my head to screech as loud as he did, waving my arms around just like he did.
"Stop it!" he sobbed with tears that were for effect and yet also deeply meant, "You're scaring me!" He has had reason to be afraid. His boy's angers and picture-perfect tears have had to try in real life to do a man's job of protecting and fighting his way to safety.
"I know!" I said, "It is scary when people go crazy wild and throw themselves around when they are angry. What are we doing next?"
Which set him off into another dance of fury with which I kept perfect time, improving on some of his head-shaking technique and overtopping his arias of bellowing because I have years and years of angers to draw from. And have had so little chance to tap-dance in the open with them in center stage.
We ended, sitting face-to face in the doorway of the kitchen, exhausted and laughing a little shakily, his legs over my legs, our faces and hands still mirroring each other but in gentler motions. This is not an exercise I will indulge in again. I don't want it become a habit. I'm not sure his besotted caseworker would approve of it, in any case, as a useful parenting technique. I'm not certain I approve.
But I see a taming as we've gone forward with all our ways of engaging and rearranging his angers. Physical clowning and conscious melodrama taking the place of violent tantrums and dark theater as we give a safe space for the negative. As we dance our anger before it dances us around out of our control. Play it, say it, and then move forward.
I look forward to the ending of this month, just a week away now. This is not an exercise I will indulge in again. But I'm also glad to have sent some old angers packing, some paraded here, others privately.
I read somewhere this month that a fear of spiders has been shown to be reduced if arachnophobes approach a scary-looking hairy legged monster and say out loud, "Oh, I hate you. Your hairy legs are disgusting and you scare me! You are horrible!" The next time the sufferers approach another offered spider, sensors the experimenters have fastened on their bodies pick up much lower levels of stress and the people themselves report themselves much less afraid the second time than the control group who approached a spider and kept their reaction unsaid and locked inside themselves.
I say, good bye, Spiders. Good-bye, Angers. You are forgiven.