I remember saying to my sister, “If you can be angry with the men you’re really mad at, you won’t have to hate all men.” I was talking to myself as much as her. I think what I wrote about the James Bond movie is true, but the anger I was feeling was much more personal. It’s easy to lash out and condemn a whole gender. It’s not always as easy to face the anger we feel towards our fathers, brothers and husbands.
For me that anger was already surfacing with the Holidays (family gatherings bring me back to my childhood) The Bond movie gave it the nudge that forced me to feel it once again.
My father was an angry and controlling man, in my family women were not taken seriously. I married young, to another controlling man, I unconsciously welcomed it, it was what I knew. In my mid forties, after 22 years of marriage, I realized it was possible to have a life where I could choose each day what I would do, how I would spend my time. I remember standing outside my studio, the feeling of freedom flooding my body and mind. It had the smell and rush of the last day of school, the three months of summer, an exciting and frightening eternity. How had I never even imagined it before? Why didn’t I know it was possible to make my own choices and be responsible for them and myself? And where had the knowledge of the possibility suddenly come from?
Like the woman in the Bond movie, I took a chance and, unlike her, I got out. I did not become the secretary and mother I was supposed to be. In my freedom I became the artist and person I was all along. And thankfully I gave men another chance and found a really good one to spend the rest of my life with. So I see things more clearly now, not just through the eyes of the child I was. And I’m grateful everyday for my new found life.
But every once in a while, the anger comes up. It’s still inside of me waiting for the opportunity to surface. When I realize what’s happening I can release it, tap it away, use it creatively in my work, send a letter to my Senator. But when it sneaks up on me, I lash out. Out of control, I do things like reveal the end of a movie to an unsuspecting reader, or take it out on Jon (who is usually understanding and ready to point it out to me) Maybe someday, if I keep working on it, the anger will go away completely. I think forgiving is part of the equation, I’m just not sure which comes first.