We are running through a living room, on the north side of the house, unsure if this is a game or a real life-or-death situation. My sister has my bead container. It’s this plastic box with tiny compartments for each type of bead, and all of my treasures are inside it. THIS BOX CONTAINS EVERYTHING I VALUE IN THIS WORLD, AND I WAS ABOUT TO MAKE THE MOST EPIC NECKLACE EVER, AND THIS TINY 6-YEAR OLD IMP IS TRYING TO STEAL IT FOR HERSELF. The fucking nerve.
Anger billows up out of my armpits, my shoulders, my knees. I sprint faster, finally gaining on my younger sister, who, in a flash of inspiration, runs up the stairs.
NO. The hot pressure sticks to my ribs, threatening to detonate. A word blooms in my stomach, burrows up through my esophagus, gets under my tongue, digs deep into the crevices of my jaw. I’ve said this word so many times before, in thousands of ways. Sometimes it comes out soft, gentle, imploring, but other times it comes out fighting, harsh, terrifying.
I see what is happening in slow motion. That’s not even the right way to describe it. It’s not slow motion. It’s focus. Detached focus. I see what is happening with a focus so clear, it’s as if I am a monk meditating in a Himalayan temple. I know I am about to scream. I know that it is going to be so loud that it will hurt my throat to do it. I know my sister will not be happy about it. I know I will do it anyway.
“MAYAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” I bellow.
Everything stops. She stops running, I stand breathing heavily. The anger dissipates. She comes down the stairs, full of genuine innocence and hurt. She is deflated, I is deflated, the moment is forever deflated.
Now, the memory is blurry here. I’m not sure what happened to the bead container. Did she give it back to me? Did we string necklaces together? All I remember is that she was sad.
In that moment, I decided that I didn’t want to experience her sadness that way. I didn’t want it to be my fault. The blame was too much. So, I made a pact with myself. I would never scream at my sister again. No matter how angry I got, I wouldn’t let my anger escape from my body like that.
I kept that pact for years, almost perfectly, not just with my sister, but with everyone else in my life.
Recently, I have been blaming young Siena. She was too weak for the world. She didn’t stand up for herself enough. She didn’t say no when she didn’t want something. She didn’t say, “give me that,” when she DID want something. She let people in. She exposed us to danger. She didn’t protect us. She was a coward, a phony, a pussy. My trauma was her fault. The abuse I experienced was her fault.
But, remembering this story made me realize something: the anger didn’t disappear. The “NO” never went away. It was simply displaced. I was always pushing back.
I wrote long journal entries about anger. I played angsty piano octaves on the piano as I performed Mozart, Chopin, and Debussy. I acted out angry characters in theater productions. I sang. I mimicked the faces of actors as I watched movies. I danced. I made myself heard. I made myself safe. I rejected the world in my own ways. My sensitivity gave me wings, won competitions, got me into small competitive circles. I was strong and took care of myself masterfully. I was a hero, a human, a warrior.
In fact, I’m now realizing that I have been counteracting the dominant figures in my life the WHOLE TIME. Maybe I wasn’t screaming at them directly, but I was sure as hell screaming in other ways.
I have always said every single thing I needed to say. I said these things loud enough for people to hear. I was never weak. I was never defeated. I knew exactly how to take care of myself. I was Queen of Myself. I was a fearless leader, a wise nurture, a great intelligence.
There was not a lack, but rather a redirection of strength.
This was always the plan. I was meant to be right here, right now, right as I am. I have never been anything different. I was never feeble, although for a long time I thought I was. I am simply learning where to place my anger.