Landing here to write — a cold laptop beneath my wrists, candlelight to my right, and a heater to my left. I’m crosslegged at the kitchen table with the space heater whirling a cozy warmth.
A moment ago I was in rage.
The evening routine started out peaceful with my daughter, Maya, laying on top of me in the bathtub, our eyes both closed as she floated on top of me, showing me how she could fall asleep in the tub. In the background was Pandora’s Spa Station playing some delightful music. I basked in the intimacy and peace of that moment. After bath, we read The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse for our story before bed. My heart melted open reading the soft, gentle wisdom and kindness in each of the characters’ words.
Then my tiredness began to settle in. I had patience for maybe 15 more minutes.
But it was right then that Maya became hungry. Then, she was thirsty. Then, she told me about how Jack T. in her class can be very rude and “probably has a heart hurt because he is always rude when people accidentally call him a first year kindergartner.” She tells me Jack says in a loud voice, “NO I’M NOT A FIRST YEAR. IM A SECOND YEAR!”
I had interest in her sweet end-of-day processing and story, but then I just wanted a moment of me time. I wanted to passively scroll on my phone and plan some future adventure at the same time. I craved doing nothing and fun. Really, I wanted a place to unwind after all the doings of the day.
I then got out of the bed in a decisive way. I said: “OK, Maya, I’m going to do my writing practice now. Goodnight. I’ll check on you soon.”
This had worked last night.
I escaped to the couch where my husband, Eli, was relaxing on the couch on his phone. He began to tell me how interesting it is that humans have only been around for this small period of time that we are aware of; and yet, there is now so much more history now, thanks to Google Earth, that we don’t know about humans.
I didn’t really have any space to comprehend his world in that moment. I half-tried with the tiniest bit of energy I had left.
Then Maya came out, dragging her blanket and then laying her body across both of our laps. Meanwhile, Eli continued to tell me about the humans from back-in-the-day.
“Want papa to go lay in there with you?!?!?” I volunteered him, desperately.
“NOOOO I WANT YOU.” Maya responded.
I abruptly got up, and ushered her back to her room. I then tried to sit outside the bedroom door with my laptop in my lap to do the writing practice. She protested. She needed her stuffy, and now a blanket. And, once she had her blanket, she wanted to be wrapped like a burrito in it.
After the gathering of more objects for Maya, I had my face in my palms, sitting on the chair with my laptop in my lap, hoping Eli could come by to save me and have pity on me for this dilemma.
He didn’t come. And I decided resisting Maya any longer would only keep her up even later. It was already almost 9p.
I went back to the bed, reacting in a very abrupt tone to Maya, “I’m out of patience, Maya. No more talking. Go to bed!” In my mind, my frustration spun into anger around how much I do, why Eli is on the couch enjoying himself, while I’m doing this hard work.
Laying there in bed, next to Maya, I went back and forth between rage and compassion.
I remembered Eli didn’t sleep well last night with the storm. That he has been up since 445a, and that he had a meeting from 6p to 7:30p tonight. I start to tally up everything I did today — take Maya to school, make her lunch, picked up dinner, did her evening routine. When will I get to do my writing practice??
I had many good points, I agree. And there are also realities to where both of our capacities were tonight.
I tried to drop the blame and resentment and score keeping stories. I know they do not get me anywhere. I’ve had many solid attempts at trying to resolve my anger this way over the years.
I came to the laptop and put my hand on my heart and belly. The 21 breaths I’ve been taking before writing felt so soothing. I did nine more until 30. With my hand on my heart, I acknowledged and accepted the anger I felt in that moment. I saw how tired I was underneath it all. I gave myself compassion for the frustration that grew into anger that grew into rage.
On nights like this when I’m tired, I usually would have gone to bed with that tally in my head. I wouldn’t have let my anger fully run its course. Up until recently, I thought that the tallying in my head was the anger running its course… I can more clearly see that it is just the mind on a runaway train, adding logs to the fire.
I can still feel debris from the narratives that I did spin. The anger certainly wasn’t gone, and I even took a jab at Eli before bed on a topic about “sealioning” — a passive aggressive attempt at discharging the remaining anger I had left.
This is major progress for me, though. To acknowledge and accept when I am in pain. And to give myself the compassion I need right there in the midst of it all. To not fully get on to the runaway train of stories that eventually just gets stored as resentment.
As Thich Nhat Hanh says about anger, instead of running after the person who set my house on fire, I came close to try to take care of my house that is on fire. I was equipped with a hose and only a few rooms were put out tonight. But the house didn’t burn. There are ashes. And I didn’t run off. I didn’t abandon myself tonight. ❤