I knew my wrath could destroy me. Perhaps not all of me, but it would destroy essential parts of me, and in doing so create a person I did not want to be. My anger would certainly not be deadly to him. Only to me. And by default, it would be a sickness passed to my children.
I know enough women who are forever angry at men. Their long-ago hate boiled down over the years to a bitter residue that sticks to their tongues when they speak. It’s glued their eyes half shut. A hard, foul-tasting toffee smothering their hearts. From the start, I could see this was a possible end, and I flatly and utterly refused to write that story for myself.
Living in the shire of the heart-felt hippy I sometimes feel a bit of an emotional outcast. I’m not known for wearing my heart on my sleeve. I find crying a curiously difficult thing and have often wondered if there is something wrong with me. It’s not that I’m insensitive, I just don’t care. Which of course is not true. I care deeply. But it’s a solid, serious feeling. My care sits heavily in me, not oozing out at the tear drop of a hat.
So the idea of crying for a year was unfathomable. And when everything else came up from that deeply impossible place I was completely overwhelmed.
Ranting, howling, the proverbial banshee screaming. Apparently it’s true – hell hath NO fury like a woman scorned. I sent foul emails to him and even fouler ones to her. In-between I would write explanatory letters to myself, trying to sort my thoughts out in a reasonable manner, trying to get myself under control. But control was not possible. And I would return to swearing loudly and endlessly into the phone.
I didn’t throw the jar of pickles directly at him. He was simply standing close. I threw it full force into the kitchen wall. Smashing everywhere, making a hole in the plaster. Yellow sauce erupting and leaving a permanent blaze of mustard colour on the white paint. An embarrassing and uncomfortably shameful reminder for months afterwards.
Several times I threw myself at him with my fists. Exploding like the glass pickle jar. He was admirably patient. Strong and impassive as the wall. He let me rage and pummel his chest until finally he held my hands and said, “Enough. You have to stop.”
During the day I could mostly contain my rage. Depression and numbness reigned. But once the sun went down and night arrived, so did my fury. A heavy black blanket of anger, dense and thick and suffocating. A claustrophobic feeling that I could not escape. And in the long hours between 10pm and dawn I thrashed about in my bed and my mind, vividly imagining a thousand possible ways of inflicting maximum pain.
The classic scorned wives act of smashing his car windscreen. I held the brick in my hand. Damaging his ridiculous fucking sportscar would be the quickest route to damaging his ego. The glass would scatter unexpectedly on the lawn, reflecting the tiny pieces of my own shattered self.
But I never did.
Month after month my anger flowed through me. Sometimes in torrents and streams of abuse and tears that seemed never ending. Sometimes it subsided for a few days only to return as a flash flood of destruction when the dam wall broke.
And I became fascinated by feeling. The feeling of deep emotions flowing. I was desperate to know everything, understand everything, and feel it all. What was his truth but, more importantly, what was mine? It was all caustic but completely necessary.
Friends thought I was crazy, as I kept throwing myself in pains way and putting myself in situations that I knew would be razor blades in open emotional wounds. I visited her house, had tea with her, met her kids and her brother, and became a crazy facebook stalker. I was advised to be gentle with myself, patient with myself. Bugger that. There was no time for serenity. I felt that if I slowed down then my pain and anger would solidify and turn into hard bitterness. It would become stones in my inside spaces. There forever and irretrievable; unable to be softened. Grinding against each other for the rest of my life. The internal scrapings would leave external marks on my face. There for everyone to see. Especially me.
To quote a friend of mine, “There is something more deep, creative and ‘warrior like’ when you turn your attention to feeling deeply. You have to turn everything around so you can, instead of escaping feeling, participate in this incredible self mending.”
I had to keep the anger moving. So I kept moving. I danced and travelled and ran. I wrote and wrote and ran and danced some more. To feel all the way down – utterly and completely – was the only way to heal, or things would be left unfelt, undone and would rise up later. I was manic and mad and hell-bent on healing, adamant that despite the pain, my anger was not going to destroy me and leave me scarred. I’d seen it happen to so many others and I was defiant. I might not have written the start of my pain and wrath story, but I was sure as hell going to write the end of it. And it was going to end not only with freedom, but with joy.
So when the flowing fury eventually, after nearly a year, had slowed to a trickle, and then finally to an occasional seeping, before drying up altogether, I came to understand that my wrath hadn’t killed any part of me. I was, and am, very very alive.
As I write this it’s nearly 3 years exactly since we separated and only a week since we’ve been officially divorced. It’s been a whirlwind of crazy ups and downs but I am forever grateful that both of us navigated it to place of freedom, growth and love. Who would have thought that divorce can create more love and joy for everyone, not less?