Some months ago I got out of one of the most consuming, toxic and destructive relationships I had ever been in. It was good for most of the time that it lasted, until mistakes were made that sent everything crashing and burning, and turned my entire life upside down. I suppose I had been naïve to think that it would end any differently, given the circumstances that led me to make said mistakes in the first place. But after many hours of crying, name-calling and unethical technological surveillance, we finally parted ways.
In the immediate aftermath of this breakup, my coping mechanism allowed for only one way: to shut down. I let him rant and rave and call me a slut on Twitter (“Whether I call you that or not, isn’t what you did what sluts do?”), I let him go all bipolar on WhatsApp by blocking and unblocking me (“Either I block you on WhatsApp now, or you stop sending me any more messages from now on”), I abided by his requests to only text him during business hours (“I don’t want to think about you when I’m at home and my mind is not preoccupied”) by not texting him at all. In short, I dealt with his petulant outbursts the way my mother dealt with my brother’s temper tantrums: by giving them the cold shoulder.
Now, months later, we barely say a word to each other, and when we do it’s usually not a very nice word. But on one occasion, when we had both acknowledged that whatever love had been between us has now clearly been obliterated, he asked if that meant we were enemies now.
That made me stop and think. My favorite character on Desperate Housewives, Bree van de Kamp, once told her spoilt, cruel teenage son that the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference. And I’ve always agreed with it, because hatred requires putting effort into channeling as much ill will as possible towards someone. That was when I realized I no longer have the time or energy to be enemies with anyone, or to be cruel and think of cruel things to say and do to anyone, because nobody is worth making oneself so small and despicable for.
It’s something that I’ve had to think about a lot lately. I’ve had much to be angry about over the past year and a half, and that anger festers to this very day, but to what end? If, like in the prayer, God is able to grant the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference”, then what is all this anger for? My life is the way it is directly and indirectly because of the choices I made, and if I had been content to make them at some point in my life, surely I have no call to be angry about them now, especially not when so much of it has never been within my control to begin with.
This was made clearer to me two days ago, when I had reached the peak of my existential meltdown and I thought I had dug myself into an emotional hole so deep it would take six firemen with no collarbones to dig me out. I realized I was on the brink of repeating history and pushing away what matters the most in my life right now, and throwing away a happiness that I know could actually exist if I could just learn to focus on the very reason I made some of those choices in the first place.
So I’m all out of angry. Whether it’s a form of admitting defeat or making peace with certain unpleasantries, I can no longer afford to be angry. I know what I want and what I’m doing, and I know that as long as I keep my blinkers on and concentrate on the bigger picture that is so close within my grasp, the anger will pass.
But just to be safe, I should probably keep a foam bat nearby.