‘I’m not going to the practice tonight’ I decided a couple of weeks ago. I’d spent the afternoon sad and angry, increasingly more angry than sad. Go, said my head – you should, the performance is coming up. Go, said my head – you’ll feel better if you get out. But I didn’t want to pretend to people I hardly know that all’s well. They wouldn’t notice the pretence, of course, but still. I would. And either I’d simply weave their perfectly legitimate not noticing into the sangry mix and get angrier and sadder, or I’d believe my own publicity and squish the sangry under ‘I’m fine’. Or both. Gut won over head. I stayed home.
Being ready and willing to contribute to something that matters deeply to me. Having demonstrated the willing, and having had that demonstration acknowledged, accredited. And nothing. No take up. No communication. No yes, and no no. Is this rejection, rudeness? Have I had it all wrong all along? Should I be rethinking the whole thing? Walking away? Or is it a Lenten temptation to anger? I got two slurps into a transgressive gin and tonic, but slung the rest.
Giving myself permission to stay home was a release. I got a couple of useful things done while I sat with the storm and asked what it was about. What it was really about. By morning I’d seen the pattern, understood that the scale of the emotional storm that had me desperately pretending I wasn’t crying as I walked the dogs - way out of proportion to what had happened that morning - was not just about what had happened that morning.
It had happened before, of course it had. Not here, not like this (though not not like this either). In its essentials it had been the shape of some of my major life processes. Once that became obvious, the response, the nature and scale, became understandable. Proportion settled in. Not a Lenten temptation to anger, then, but a Lenten invitation to insight, to a lightening. The word 'Lent' has its origin in words describing lengthening days, denoting Spring. The dark wilderness of my angry sadness got sadder and angrier because it made no sense. The temptation was to escape, leave it behind, pretend. Waiting it out, seeing it through, giving it time, allowed the light to dawn.
In one of her many YouTube videos, Brené Brown talks about trust. Quoting Charles Feltman she defines it as ‘choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else’. Instinctively I choose to trust, to give. And there is vulnerability in that. And when things don’t work out it hurts. And when the wheel turns over the same ground old pain grinds into the new. But the truth of it was that it wasn’t the same ground, just the same geology. If I follow the light I can see the strata. And maybe even appreciate the view.
Photo credit: Ed Napier