angry

Exit 219. I don’t know how to let go.

I’m not well.  Not mentally and emotionally, at least.

I don’t want to talk about it.  But I realized yesterday, as everything was falling apart, that there is something deeper going on that what appeared to be happening on the surface.

I don’t know how to let go.  I don’t know how to forgive.  I don’t know how to move on.  I’ve been carrying around decades of burdens and rejection and hurt, and I just don’t know how to move on.

I think about things that I was successfully able to move on from, to try to figure out what to do about this.  And it turns out that it might not have been so successful after all.  Sometimes forgiveness happens because whoever or whatever I’m mad at apologizes or makes an effort to make things right.  But I can’t control that.  I can’t control other people.  And sometimes it looks like I’m able to forgive someone on the surface, but then their true colors show again later, and years pass and I’m still angry and carrying it around.  Or sometimes I just manage to distract and numb myself for long enough that the anger I’m carrying around doesn’t affect my ability to be a functioning adult… most of the time, until something happens like the last few days, and something that is truly insignificant in the long run triggers an avalanche of anger.

I just don’t know what to do with this.  I can stay away from certain people or places where I am likely to get upset, but that’s just a Band-Aid.  I’m scared.  I hope I haven’t done any permanent damage to myself, my friendships, or my career.  Fortunately, I see my therapist this week.  That’s a start, I guess.

Exit 194. Angry mobs.

Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday that falls one week before Easter.  The name Palm Sunday comes from a passage in all four Gospels, where Jesus rides into Jerusalem as a triumphant King, and he is greeted by a mob of fans waving palm branches.  Just a few days later, the mob appears again, but this time they are shouting for him to be put to death.  What caused the change?  The Bible, of course, does not say how many of the people in the angry crucifixion mob were also in the palm branch mob.  Those in the palm branch mob were expecting Jesus to be a conqueror and drive out the Roman oppressors, but instead he preached a message of humility and love for your enemies, which is not what they wanted.

Angry mobs have been in the news a lot around here lately, with another fatal and tragic case of alleged police brutality and racism, as well as the anti-gun marches happening across the USA this weekend.  I don’t really feel like going into any more detail about what I saw or what happened.  I’m kind of tired of talking about it and of all the arguing that it inevitably leads to.

I do know one thing, though.

I can pray.

This world is broken, and this world needs Jesus.  Before you try to tell me that European missionaries devastated cultures all over the world in the Age of Exploration, or that so-called Christian pastors molest children and cover up their gay affairs, and such, I didn’t say the world needed any of that stuff.  I said the world needed Jesus, and that stuff is not Jesus.

I can also fix myself.

I can do the best I can to understand people who view life through a different lens than I do.  I can try to understand what others have been through.  (And I would appreciate it if others extend the same sentiment to me and try to understand what I’ve been through.)

I feel like I’m not very talkative (writative?) tonight.

Exit 142. It’s hard being angry and feeling like there’s nothing you can do about it.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone from the one dance place I’m still attending regularly; I’ll call her 2M1207.  We had never talked about my work until yesterday, and she was interested to hear some of my thoughts about being a teacher.  I said something I’ve said often before: 7th grade is both the best and the worst age to teach.  You have the nice kids from stable homes, who are just starting to emerge into maturity but are still childlike enough to give me the fun of working with children.  And then you have the angry tough kids from broken homes, who are at the height of defiance and have not yet been humbled by harsh reality.  In my current position, I have a lot more of the first type than the second, at least compared to the other school where I once taught 7th grade.

Regarding that second group of students, the ones I referred to 2M1207 said, “It’s hard being angry and feeling like there’s nothing you can do about it.”

That statement really hit me.  Because it sounds a lot like me.  But not about school.  I know the feeling of being angry and feeling helpless.  That’s how I feel about a lot of things in the world right now.  The world is really messed up, and it doesn’t make sense to me, and it often feels like I am out of options.

Of course, there are options.  I just don’t always see them right away, because they require thinking outside the box, trying something different than what I have always done before.  And the same can be applied to the angry students I come across.  There is help for them, but they have to think outside the box… and I may need to also in order to understand completely where they are coming from.

I don’t know if my conversation with 2M1207 will help me out of my anger at the world, but hopefully this perspective will help me in my next interaction with an angry student.

 

Exit 132. It reminded me of the way I’ve been mistreated.

I voted for Gary Johnson.

This is not going to be a political post, so I’m not going to go into detail on my thoughts on the issues.  So here’s the short version: I wasn’t expecting him to win a majority of the electoral vote.  I mostly just didn’t want a vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on my conscience.  I dislike them both, for different reasons.  And I don’t agree with Gary Johnson on some things, but the thought of him in the White House scared me less than the thought of either of the two major candidates in the White House.  And I do not regret one bit voting the way I did, so all of you who kept telling me that a third party candidate can’t win, save your I-told-you-sos for someone else.

So… anyway… even though I wasn’t 100% behind all of Gary Johnson’s views on the issues, and I don’t agree with all of the Libertarian Party’s stances, this year felt different.  With Clinton and Trump so widely disliked, many voters were looking for an alternative. Johnson had previously won two terms as governor of New Mexico, so he had relevant political experience.  He was polling over 10% in many states a few months before the election.  He was popular with certain subgroups of the population, and in a few states, such as New Mexico and Utah, his numbers were looking like he might actually have a chance to win.  No third party candidate had won a state since 1968, and in an election projected to be close, like this one, just winning one or two states might be enough to ensure that neither of the two major candidates would win a majority of the electoral vote.  According to the Constitution, this would lead to the House of Representatives choosing the President, with each state getting one vote (as opposed to each Representative), and this would open up the possibility of a compromise with the Republican Congressional delegation not being unified behind Trump.  The chance of that actually happening was small, but like I said, this year felt different, and it felt like time for the unexpected to happen.

But it did not happen.

Evan McMullin of Utah entered the race late and took most of the Utah anyone-but-Clinton-or-Trump voters away from Johnson.  Johnson got a little over nine percent of the vote in his home state of New Mexico, and over five percent in only a few other states.  Nationally, Johnson won a little over three percent of the popular vote, a number very similar to his showing in my home state of California.

Watching this phenomenon kind of annoyed and disappointed me, because it reminded me of the way I’ve been mistreated over the years by people who I thought cared for me.  People get all excited about something that I’m also a part of, but then in the moment of truth, they back out and abandon me, much as many people who polls said were voting for Gary Johnson apparently abandoned him and the rest of the Johnson voters.  There have been times when I have made group plans to go out to dinner, game nights, movie marathons, sporting events, and the like.  Many of my friends act interested at first, and then many of them back out at the last minute.  Not only is this frustrating, but sometimes this leaves me with tons of uneaten food at my house, or a responsibility to find someone at the last minute to take a ticket I’ve already paid for.

Similarly, in my 20s, I was surrounded by Christians who preached an extremely restrictive and conservative message regarding dating and sexuality.  I did my best to conform: I made friends with girls instead of actively pursuing them as romantic interests.  I tried my hardest not to masturbate or have overly flirtatious and sexually explicit chat room and instant message conversations, and when my willpower wasn’t strong enough, I felt immensely guilty and down on myself.  Meanwhile, many of my friends who were so passionate about this lifestyle eventually threw all that stuff out the window and started doing all the things they preached so loudly against.  They told me that I was single because God doesn’t want me dating and I wasn’t praying enough, just before they went home to watch porn and have sex with their significant others that they weren’t married to.

Why do people do this?  I don’t know.  I do have a few theories as to where all the prospective Gary Johnson voters went.  There probably were not as many of them to begin with, since much of what I was reading on the subject came from the Johnson campaign itself, which had a vested interest in skewing statistics to make their candidate seem more popular.  As I said before, many of them, especially in Utah, voted for Evan McMullin instead.  Some of them probably decided that they were so repulsed by one candidate that they voted for the slightly less objectionable candidate just to stop the slightly more objectionable one.  Some of them probably were so repulsed by both candidates that they did not vote at all.  Some of them probably lost faith in the ability of anyone to go up against the two-party system that they voted for the slightly less objectionable candidate.  That’s their right, and I’m not here to blame third-party voters for a major party candidate winning or losing any state.  That’s not how it works.

As for why my friends acted in ways that made me feel abandoned and backed out on, I know even less.  Some of the people in my life just aren’t true friends, just as many potential Johnson voters weren’t truly on board with his candidacy.  With social plans, sometimes things genuinely do come up.  People get sick.  Family members have emergencies.  And as for the Christians-don’t-date lifestyle, sometimes people get caught up in a certain lifestyle or viewpoint because of the people around them, without actually having a life-changing commitment to this lifestyle, and when circumstances change and they see other viewpoints, sometimes they fall away.  I don’t want to be angry with my friends.  I understand that things come up sometimes.  And everyone has their own journey of faith, and everyone who has left Christianity or become more liberal in their interpretation of Scripture has their reasons for doing so.  It is not my place to judge their faith.  I have things to learn from them, and I certainly see some things differently now than I did as a new Christian 20 years ago.  Many of these things happened to me a long time ago, and I don’t think it is healthy to carry grudges.

I guess I’m mostly angry at the world in general.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do about it.  Life isn’t fair, and people will disappoint.  I’m just going to have to find a way to deal with it, and this is a process that will take a long time.

Exit 125. Shining a spotlight on one of the things I dislike most about myself.

I had a strange dream the other night.

I was eating sushi, which doesn’t happen very often to begin with.  Sushi isn’t in my regular rotation of food, although I have a lot of friends who love sushi, and although I’m sushi-illterate, staring at the menu and randomly hoping I’ll like whatever I pick, usually I do in fact like it.  Anyway, I was with a few other people.  (I think I remember who one of them was, and he is definitely not someone I would ever be in a social situation like this with, but that’s not relevant right now.)

For some reason, in my dream, I went outside, leaving my food on the table.  (As is often the case with dreams, certain details stand out clearly even when they make no sense.  I remember exactly where this sushi place supposedly was: in Davis, in that strip of stores near 2nd and E Streets across the parking lot from Baskin-Robbins and the Paul Sykes memorial.  Again, I have no idea why this specific location was in my dream.  I’ve never eaten sushi there, and I don’t even know if there is a sushi place in that shopping center.  That area holds no particular significance in my life beyond memories of seeing Paul and his band (warning: link contains NSFW language after the song ends) a few times in 1995-96 and a painful rejection experience in 2000 at a restaurant in that shopping center that no longer exists.  But, again, not important.)  I don’t remember why I stepped outside, but I saw someone outside and started talking, which took longer than I thought.  When I got back to the sushi place, the people I was with had moved to an outside table, but my food was still inside.  When I went back inside to get it, it was gone; I asked the server what happened to it, and he said he threw it away, because he didn’t know if I was coming back.

I was angry.  I yelled at him and said they were the worst sushi restaurant ever, and I was going to tell all my friends not to eat there.  He said he had to throw my food away, because it would have spoiled by then based on how long I was gone (okaaaaaay), and I yelled at him that I didn’t care, I was hungry.  Then I stormed off, back outside to the people I was with.  I left soon after that, feeling terrible about myself for blowing up and making a scene, but as I passed the restaurant again on the way to my car, I felt a sudden urge to go inside and yell again at all the customers inside that they were wasting their money because this was such a bad place of business.  Then, as I got in the car, I felt terrible about myself because I couldn’t let it go.  I felt like a real jerk.

I don’t remember much after that.

But I think this dream was shining a spotlight on one of the things I dislike most about myself.  Every once in a while, I really do get very angry in public at people who are only doing their jobs, in ways that happen to be inconvenient for me.  And, just as in the dream, I always feel terrible afterward, often to the point of apologizing to whomever I blew up to.  Once, I even sent a letter to a place of business apologizing the next day.  But still, getting upset in public like that is childish, and it doesn’t help anyone with anything.  It doesn’t happen often, but it shouldn’t be happening at all.

I’ve improved the last few years at stepping back for a minute and calming down when I get really upset with the kids at work.  Maybe this dream is a reminder to do the same thing in situations like these.