Witty. Sharp-tongued. Snarky.
Later the B-word. Somtimes the C-word. Each label a partner to dance with– we do-si-doed, took turns leading– then we went our own ways to find other partners.
I’m always in search of words that fit me better, tighter, like cashmere, only not as hot.
I’ve always imagined that I am comprised of layers that sit uneasily atop one another like those diagrams of the Earth’s layers in my sixth grade physical science textbook . I never once doubted that like the Earth, my core was pure magma– raging, roiling and molten. A rage that could clear hundreds of acres of forest and a dozen subdivisions in a single rush. How else do you get to be as “snarky” as I am if you aren’t angry as hell way deep down where no one can see?
I’ve hung my hat, staked my claim, and bet all my chips on my anger. Because it’s powerful– it’s a heart throbbing. A protective shield that makes me feel alive, each mitochondria bursting with kinetic energy. Kill or be killed. I’m tightly coiled around a maypole of boiling rage.
That’s me. That’s who I am.
I thought it was immutable.
Then one day, a sharp word pierced me like a spear. I sat, cheeks burning and pulse revving like a Mustang. Here we go. Except I didn’t. I sat waiting for my core self to expel the lava like an active volcano. The deep breaths I took plunged me deeper into myself. Something beyond that vast expanse of anger. I didn’t put up a fight. I let the wound throb and ooze. I went deeper still.
Turns out there’s something beyond all that anger. There’s a deep, quiet space below that. It’s solid sorrow. On its banks, I felt the rage swirling above my head aching to spring out and defend, fight, condemn, justify. I let it roil and sat down.
It’s quiet in sadness. There’s no frenetic energy longing to spout. There is sorrow and ungrieved losses and goodbyes. Warm tears dripped on my hands folded in my lap. The innermost core of sadness is a place of no words. I don’t feel sexy or inviolable or strong. I feel soft and little and vulnerable.
I miss my barrage of words and hissing anger. The power of anger feels farther away than the Middle Ages. Like a balloon that lost all its air, I’m no longer swollen with rage. I steeping in grief and stepping closer to you.
What’s the word for this?