But you can’t get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go into. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in — then we will be able to speak in our own voice and stay in the present moment. And that moment is home. –Anne Lamott
Yesterday I stood in my kitchen and cried.
Well, let’s back up.
Yesterday my daughter kept running away from me in Target, shouting “No!” when I got close to her, and finally, in her last act, she bit the end off of a banana hanging on the display stand, and I took her by the arm and we left. With her screaming the whole way.
People look at you a certain way when your kid is out of control. I know, because I was one of those people before. In a restaurant. On a plane. In Target.
That kid needs discipline.
Can’t she control her own child?
Kids are so spoiled. If that were my kid, I’d teach her a lesson!
But the thing about controlling your kid is that it comes at a price.
Sure, I could have asserted my dominance and yelled at her, and watched her withdrawn eyes for the rest of the day after she learned that she can’t trust me to maintain control when she’s out of control. I didn’t do that. (Though, let’s be real, I am human, and I have lost my temper and yelled before. And always so deeply regretted it.) But I was definitely harsh, and she knew I was not happy. She is sensitive, and that is enough to make her cry.
It didn’t get better when we got home. Right now is a particularly difficult stage in our relationship. And I tried, by myself on the stairs after she threw her shoes and climbed on the table, to think about mindfulness; I counted on ten of my fingers what I was grateful for; I breathed in unison with my Apple Watch.
That stuff doesn’t always work. It sure didn’t work yesterday. It took the edge off, for a moment. But inside, I could still feel all that resistance brewing. I was still angry, and tired, and frustrated. No amount of breathing was going to help that. I needed a release.
All I had wanted at Target was a couple of things. One of them was a kombucha. (I’m brewing my own again! But it won’t be ready for a week or two.) But we didn’t even get to the checkout line, obviously. #bananaproblems
V can feel it when I’m in a mood like that, and was staying farrrrr away from me playing by herself. I looked back at my watch, realized it was time for her lunch (probably why she was acting so…so…well, like how she was acting), heaved a heavy sigh and got up to go to the fridge. And opened it.
There, in the compartment on the side of the door, was a kombucha my husband had bought for me the day before, when I had been in a similarly terrible mood. There it was. All shiny and cold and brand new and still sealed.
I closed the door and stood, immobile.
And then, I totally lost it.
Cried, like a big cry, like with heaving and snot and sound. Enough that Rolo noticed and came around the corner to meow, concerned.
Was I angry? Was I out of patience? Was I grateful? Was I simply releasing my resistance to everything being kind of difficult lately? Was I feeling guilty, thinking I didn’t deserve the kombucha that was sitting there?
I don’t know. I was all of it, I guess, and after lunch, V and I sat on the couch for two whole episodes of Sesame Street, cuddling, while I drank said-kombucha that might as well have been a gift from God. We were both subdued the rest of the day. She didn’t act up anymore, and I didn’t take her on errands and try to control her behavior anymore.
I like this Anne Lamott quote. Sometimes, yoga or Buddhism or mindfulness or the law of attraction can put out this image that we have to delete every ugly feeling we’ve ever had and send it off somewhere else. Pretend it never existed. Always vibrate at a high frequency, and never acknowledge that something is going on that we don’t want.
And while the ability to do that would be really, really nice, I think what sometimes gets left out of that is processing the original feeling. Before we pretend it’s not there, before we ship it off. Looking at it, facing it, and allowing the moment to kind of…well, suck. I believe that the transformation comes from there. That’s always my experience with difficult feelings, anyway.
I did not get through my breakup, or anything hard I’ve been through, by sitting in a field meditating and ignoring every negative thought in my brain. I did mediate, but I also sobbed every single time I needed to, I watched hours of depressing movies, I wrote angry letters that I never sent, I sat on my balcony and wondered how on Earth I had gotten to where I was. I accepted the ugliness of all of it, and the seemingly bottomless expanse of my grief and anger and hopelessness. There didn’t really seem to be another choice. I sat with all of it, for so much longer than I wanted to, until it finally passed.
I would love for this to be the happiest blog like all the other ones I see out there, where I make curtains and aprons during my child’s beautiful three hour nap, and every day we play together and have the most fun, and she is so well-behaved and definitely doesn’t bite the ends off of bananas in Target, but then I’d be lying to you.
I love my daughter. I love her more than I have ever loved anything on this entire planet. And sometimes, she is an asshole. And even more unfortunately, sometimes I am an asshole, and then I’m standing in the kitchen crying because my husband bought me a $3.49 bottle of kombucha and I feel like I don’t deserve it.
That is my truth. Ugly, and inconvenient. And also, true.