Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Anger and Quiet Time

Anger is one of my besetting sins (one of Mom’s expressions), and I have been working on it in therapy for some time – the last few sessions most recently. I won’t try to psychologize anger or explain my anger except to say that severe control is needed to keep it from being violent – not toward people, but throwing things, breaking things. I threw my favorite tea cup against a door while I was in seminary and I have regretted that ever since. I think that was my first real recognition that I had a problem with anger.

Frustration most usually prompts my anger – at being inadequate, being sick, being broke, being unmotivated. Well, you get the idea.

Anger was my first reaction to the Communiqué from the Primates Meeting. Anger was my first reaction to the Windsor Report.

In thinking about my anger through many therapy sessions, I have learned that I must withdraw from the situation first. I cannot think clearly while the anger rages. Fortunately, my rage is short-lived. So, I go away from the source of the anger and distract myself with something – computer games, science fiction books, making something fun for someone else. Or I sit quietly and fume for a bit. Or grab a crossword puzzle book. That time away allow my rage to soften from hurricane to gale force.

Only when the intensity of my anger has abated can I even begin to think about what has happened, what fear spawned the anger. I can’t even identify thoughts and emotions that led up to the anger until I have been away from it for a bit. Then I can replay the scene, the words, the thoughts, the feelings.

Usually I discuss the situation with someone else – my partner, my IM buddy and long time friend, my new friend, my wonderful Godson, and my therapist. But, I can’t do any of that until I have spent the time away from the problem, away from the furious anger. I must let the desire to break things bleed away in the quiet space I create.

Lent is a time of fasting, and the LGBT community has especially been asked to fast for a season. But, perhaps this fasting is what the entire world community needs – a time to be away from the situation, to focus on other things, to let the subconscious process what has happened. I think our reigning government needs to fast about the war in Iraq. Going at it slam-bam is like my breaking or throwing things. Unfortunately, the broken are our own young people in this case, and the thousands who are dying in Iraq.

I think quiet time and processing time is essential to making good decisions and learning to live better lives. Our minds take the facts that we have and turn them, twist them, connect them in patterns to other patterns, and we often reach a very different conclusion than we had expected.

Perhaps our entire religious community needs to fast for a season to give us time to let the rage abate, time to let our subconscious process the hurt, the facts (as we accept them), what we have heard and what we have said. Then, we need to discuss all aspects of the situation to see where our fears lie. All sorts of possibilities might emerge.

I am not suggesting that we should ignore the call of our Baptismal Covenant to respect the dignity of every person, nor should we ignore the tragic injustices being done. I’m not suggesting that we should move backward, but I’m also not suggesting that we move forward until everyone has had quiet time. Then every person, Primate, congregation, diocese, province and nation can make decisions that are best for that particular entity.

1 comment:

shallotpeel said...

"I am angry nearly every day of my life ... but I have learned not to show it; and I still hope to learn not to feel it, though it may take me another forty years to do so." - Louisa May Alcott 1832-88, American novelist
Little Women (1868-9) ch. 8