I opened the mailbox and pulled out a stack of envelopes. As I thumbed through them before making the short walk back to the house, I saw it. The return address. And I knew.
The contents of the small envelope would wound me.
As the sender has wounded me so many times before.
My breath caught and tears brimmed as I made my way back into the house where I dropped the mail on the kitchen counter, with the exception of one small envelope. Maybe I’m wrong… Maybe it isn’t what I suspect…
I tore the envelop open and pulled out a sheaf of paper. As I scanned it the stab came, straight to my heart, as it has so many times before. Then…
I dropped the note on the counter and hot tears fell. Why does this keep happening? Why do I let it continue to happen?
But I didn’t want the anger–because I knew, just beneath its simmering surface was a cauldron filled with pain.
As I turned away from the counter, the refrigerator beckoned. I could eat something. Anything. I could stuff myself so full there’d be no room left for the anger or the pain. I glanced away from the refrigerator to an upper cabinet. I could reach for a wine glass, fill it once, twice, three times. I could drink until my mind and heart would no longer discern the ache.
Every escape I’ve known called my name.
But under the cacophony in my mind, another voice whispered. I strained to hear the question it asked: What does it mean to be mindful now?
I wandered from the kitchen to my office and dropped into the chair at my desk. I rested my hand on the trackpad. One click, then a second, and a hand of Solitaire appeared. I played a few cards before moving my hand off the trackpad.
I wouldn’t succumb. I wouldn’t escape. Not this time.
What does it mean to be mindful when anger stirs? What does it mean to remain present when emotional pain swirls? I considered each question.
It means allowing myself to feel the pain. To experience the pain. To allow the anger to propel me forward as I’ve allowed it to propel the characters in my novels forward.
When I accepted the idea of mindfulness for this year, I anticipated a new awareness. I looked forward to what I might see, hear, experience. I did not consider that accepting the invitation to live in the present would also mean accepting the probability of dealing with pain. But… Dealing with the pain means I’m also presented with the opportunity to uncover festering wounds and rather than averting my gaze as I have so often done, I can choose to really see them, and allow myself to feel their sting.
Wounds left untreated become infected. Perhaps the metaphor is cliche because of its accuracy.
I moved my hand back to the trackpad, clicked, and opened a new document. Through a veil of tears, I stared at the wavering blank page on the screen and then rested my fingers where they are most comfortable, on the keyboard. I let the old wounds lead the way and allowed the infection to drain, through my fingertips, onto the page…
Now, a week later, recalling the moment no longer evokes anger, or even pain. Instead, there is relief. And resolve born of anger. Transformation even. Change wrought through presence. My own. And the Presence which, I’m continuing to learn, meets me in the present, in the moment.
What are you escaping? What does it mean to sit with your pain? To stay present in your anger?
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