In a moment of self pity, I decided to look back on all the horrible times I’ve had in my life so I could prove just how awful of a run I’ve had.
Sadly, I couldn’t come up with much.
Oh sure there are times that I’ve been angry. There are times that I’ve been hurt. There are times where I’ve felt rage enough to verbally wish bloody diarreah upon someone else’s life.
I just can’t seem to remember mostof those times with any clarity.
I don’t know whether I’ve pushed them out of my mind because I don’t like to dwell on the bad stuff, or if I’ve pushed them from my mind because I don’t like to sweat the small stuff. Either way, they’ve nearly all vanished from my memory.
Most of the times that I can still recall being upset, I can now look back upon and realize that I was being over dramatic, and in some cases I can even find humor in those situations. There are a few instances that still cause my core to ache, but even those have dulled over time. Half of my memories in which I can recall being upset, I can’t even remember who or what caused my anger in the first place.
Anger is a funny emotion like that. It seems to come in spurts that are stronger than most of my other emotions, but in most cases, it seems to fade just as quickly as it sets in.
The times that I can recall having the strongest anger seem to fit into 1 of 2 categories.
1. When things don’t go my way due to people.
2. When things don’t go my way due to the ways of the universe.
When a situation falls into the first category, I tend to realize my bratty ways and get over it fairly quickly.
When a situation falls into the second category it gets a little more sticky. It’s pretty simple to forgive someone for having a different opinion or for not feeling the same way that you do. But when life throws you a situation that you never planned to have to deal with, it’s hard to understand why. It leaves me wandering if I did something wrong in my past… if karma has reared it’s ugly head to pay me back for something that I can’t remember doing.
This week I’ve been dealing with anger that stems from a situation that falls very neatly into both of these categories. It’s left me questioning everything from my ability to judge the character of people that I have let into my life, to my faith and my beliefs. This is an anger like I’ve never felt before. It’s crept it’s way into every part of my being, into my core. It’s caused a variety of other emotions as a result. I’ve pain in my heart that’s more real than the pain described in any country song, I’ve felt jealousy towards people I don’t even know, nor would want to know. I feel anguish and dispair and have had moments when I’ve loathed God or whatever being is in charge of my destiny. More than anything, I’ve felt anger towards myself for not knowing how to deal with an unwanted situation better, for not being able to make a decision, for not expecting the worst, and for feeling all of these emotions towards a situation that I cannot control.
I’ve spent every moment of the last week trying to figure out my next move. I thought about the ways I’ve dealt with anger in my past. With petty situations, I’ve used harshed words or childish actions to act out in an effort to fill the void that anger leaves in my soul. I’ve yelled and cried and through fits in my car. I’ve taken it out on people who have had absolutely nothing to do with my anger.
This time though, I knew egging a car or saying mean things to people I care about wouldn’t help. Even saying things to people who are directly involved with the situation won’t change anything. This one is all on me. I’ve found a way to internalize everything, which, as it turns out, doesn’t help any more than taking it out on others. I’ve spent the last week making myself into the enemy. I’ve pu and cried more than I ever have in my life.
Last night though, something happened. I was aimlessly walking through a grocery store, staring at the 100’s of different types of teas, trying to find something that might help me sleep when a woman pulled up her cart next to mine. She was all up in my space. She laughed and tried to make small-talk about how there were “SOOOOO many different varieties,” “How will I EVER CHOOSE?” Then she selected a simple green tea, but before she walked off she patted me on the back and smiled a huge smile, and told me she hoped I had a blessed evening.
I didn’t smile back, but just sat there with frown. She paused for a moment with a look of worry, and I put my head down so she wouldn’t try to ask what was wrong. She finally took her tea and her cart and left me alone in the aisle.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that moment. I didn’t smile back… and it didn’t feel good. It was obvious that my not smiling back had effected her in some way and that is bothering the hell out of me. It irks me more than anything when I make the effort to smile at someone, and they don’t smile back. I mean… it only takes minimal effort to feign happiness, and it always makes you feel a little better.
I spent the entirety of today trying to smile at everyone I saw in an effort to make up for the lady I shunned yesterday at the grocery store. I made small talk with the gas station attendant. I tried to really mean it when I answered the phone with “Good Morning,” today at work. I even smiled at the dude who took his precious time walking across the street this morning causing me to be late.
It kind of felt good. I’m still upset, and I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do, but I do know that just by faking a little bit of happiness, I feel a little better about life. I’m feeling a little more positive, and that whatever I decide to do next, life will be ok. It almost always works out in one way or another.
My point is this. There is truth to the lyrics of the Charlie Chaplin composed song, “Smile,” even when you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.