Anger Is An Energy

I wrote this very personal post at the end of 2015. 

Once upon a time there was a little girl, an only child, who lived on a quiet, lonely road. Her room was on the second floor of an old house with a window that overlooked a pond. Her mother was more worried about the placement of the furniture in the room than preserving the view, so a large wardrobe blocked the window onto the pond. It also blocked the morning sun and kept the room darker than it would’ve been otherwise.

The girl liked to dream, to make up stories in her head. She invented an imaginary twin brother named Jamie. Jamie always came with her to the creek that ran through the property and the two of them had great adventures there. They pretended to be giants stomping around a mighty river. The little girl would pretend to be caught in the current and cry out to Jamie to come rescue her. When she came back to the house wet and muddy, her mother would frown and scold her for not acting like a lady.

The little girl was afraid of the dark. Having a vivid imagination, she pictured all sorts of monsters and demons lurking there. She had a lot of trouble sleeping and stayed awake listening to the creaks and groans of the old house. Sometimes she would try to crawl in next to her parents in the middle of the night but she was always sent back to bed with an eye rolling reassurance that there was nothing under the bed or in the closet.

When she did fall asleep, she had nightmares. She dreamt of plane crashes, floods and the house catching fire. She dreamt that bad men would break in and kidnap her and hold her for ransom. She worried that maybe her parents wouldn’t pay. She pretended Jamie was in the bed next to her and she would hug her pillow like it was him. In the mornings, she would sometimes awaken on the floor.

Evening meals were spent in clipped conversation or in tense silence. The little girl was so nervous she couldn’t eat her supper. That only made her mother more angry. She told her that she ruined every family dinner they’d ever had. Sometimes the little girl would leave the table and go throw up what little food she had managed to choke down.

Despite all of that, the little girl was bright and did well in school. When she learned to read, she read well above her grade level. She won the spelling bee when she was in the 4th grade, finally making her mother proud. Her teachers encouraged her to read and gave her lists of books for the summer vacation. Reading helped her escape. At last it was something her mother approved of. She wouldn’t be scolded for curling up with a book the way she had been for catching tadpoles and getting all dirty.

She had to wear glasses now. Her mother made her wear curlers to bed because she didn’t like her straight hair. The curlers were uncomfortable and made her problems sleeping even worse. All the other girls in school wore their long hair straight and smooth but her mother said her hair wasn’t shiny and thick enough to wear that way. Her mother said she was too skinny and pale. She’d rouge her cheeks with her own makeup to bring a little color to the girl’s features. Her mother would sigh and shake her head. The girl would feel ashamed.

Her grandmother bought her a diary, the kind with a little lock and key. Even with it locked, she kept the diary hidden so her mother wouldn’t find it. The girl started to write things down. How she wished she was a princess in a castle one day and an astronaut on the moon the next. How she wished Jamie was real. How she didn’t think she was pretty. How she worried she would never fall in love because no one would ever want her. She worried that she’d never be happy.

The girl sought solace in books and music. She poured out her frustrations in poetry. She went away to college and drowned her sorrows in booze. She made friends. Men actually found her attractive. One of them told her she was beautiful. She didn’t believe him, couldn’t believe him. She pushed him away. She broke his heart.
It took the girl a long time to realize she was more than her mother’s disappointment. Eventually, though, she understood. The girl’s mother never wanted the girl to outshine her, to be smarter or prettier or more successful. She was only ever proud of the girl when she could somehow take credit for the thing she was good at. She really didn’t want her daughter to be happy. She wanted her daughter to make her look good.
Understanding makes her angry. But the hot anger feels better than the cold pain. The anger is fuel. Fuel for her writing and she is on fire.

103 thoughts on “Anger Is An Energy

      1. I lost my mother at age eight, partly raised by grandparents (beautiful and loving people) but I needed to meet expectations so a lot of molding occurred. It is liberating to mature into your own person but in many ways you are forever pressed and formed.

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      2. Oh, Holly, I’m so sorry. I imagine an older generation would have a different parenting approach than the parents of your contemporaries. I’m sure that made for a unique set of issues! All we can do is try to ‘own’ it and move forward, not letting it hold you back. 💜

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  1. Oh, Meg, I’m humbled you shared this. I feel it deeply, too, in more ways than one – as both the child and parent. Understanding does bring anger, and then many, many more emotions. Thank you for sharing. I feel blessed to know you, Meg.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kay. This is the baggage I am trying to leave at the depot, you know? It feels good to purge occasionally and to put my negative emotions to work in a positive way. Writing has proved to be immensely cathartic. And I feel blessed to know you, too, my friend!

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      1. Yes, I do. I’m so glad it has – writing does the same for me. The only way to leave it, in my opinion, is to look it in the face, then choose to drop it off!

        Happy new year, Meg. 💜

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  2. ❤ Thanks for sharing something so personal, Meg. Anger is an energy, I agree with you. And I wish I could give you a big hug. Or take you out drinking. 😄 ❤❤

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    1. Thank you so much, Vic. Hey, no reason we can’t do both! ❤❤❤ This was a purge at the end of 2015 and I guess I needed to do it again. Like I told Kay… this is the baggage I’m trying to leave behind. But then Lost and Found calls and drops it off again! 😑

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      1. Ha, exactly! That’s a great description. I don’t have this exact baggage from childhood but I definitely have plenty! And yes, we can for sure do both!

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      2. I’m so happy to have met such amazing, strong women like you, Kay, Rita and Nat this past year. (And Sandra and Diane last year) Everyone is hauling their stuff along, but at least when you’re traveling with a group, the load doesn’t feel quite as heavy! Thanks for being here, Vic! ❤❤❤

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  3. This feels much like my childhood, although I had real siblings (besides, you know, Kev). But yeah, it took a long time to see how my sister and I were somewhat of a threat to my mom, who was 1940s beauty queen gorgeous, btw. But it was always a competitive thing. She didn’t have a career so she belittled ours. Looks were everything to her and as we got older I think she hated that meant she was, too. But I like to think all this made us who we are today, if only to serve as a poor example not to follow!

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    1. Oh my god, Diane, that’s exactly it! Mother in competition with daughter. My Mom was very ‘glamorous’ too. Must be their generation… Anyway, I was never encouraged just to be me. And it resulted in a whole lot of floundering. Which I struggle not to resent (wasted time, etc). And she really hasn’t changed over the years. I just choose not to let it have the same impact that it did when I was a young woman. Thanks for sharing that Diane, it helps to have kindred souls knowing how that feels! xo

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  4. the only child factor has a big bearing on one’s life / as a child or teenager if one got the better of a bully that classic line “I’ll get my big brother to sort you out!” still can echo. one’s childhood which should be fun ends up as a Battle of The Somme.

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    1. Without a doubt, my being an only child was a big factor. As was the late in life surprise of my arrival. I think I spoiled the party, know what I mean? Thanks for your insights, Ryan, and for the follow.

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  5. The older I get the more people I meet who, like me, had a miserable time growing up. Very challenging with both external and internal pressures building within. The families you see on the Hallmark Channel…maybe fewer exist in real life than we can even imagine. I am an only child also. I get what you commented on regarding “spoiling the party.” I don’t know where I fit in my folks’ master plan. I just know I’m master of my own domain now!

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    1. Ah, how about it… maybe we are the rule and not the exception? Generation X. It’s a weird thing, being an only child. So many people assume we were spoiled and that we got ALL the attention showered on us as we grew up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Or that the attention I got was the right kind of attention, anyway. I am glad you’ve landed on your feet. I feel like I have too. Finally!

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  6. Very touching, Meg. It brings back so many memories. Claustrophobia (!), for example. I think it’s worse for an only child. There’s nobody to share the guilt and blame, nobody to talk to. I still talk to my ‘brothers’, and I share everything with them. Maybe I’ll post that story one day. And I still have my Teddy Bear. I guess that’s why we write, in part, to create a world we can control, a world in which everything turns out the way we want it to. Thank you for sharing. It takes courage to clear it all from the system. You make a very good role model for the sister I never had.

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    1. I believe you are right about being the only child, the focus of all the scrutiny. My ‘imaginary friend’ stayed with me for a long time. Even now, I ‘hear’ the voice of my ‘twin brother’ in my head sometimes… not to sound like a crazy person. But I view ‘him’ as my muse, now that I’m an adult. I guess we only children have same or similar ways we deal with our circumstances. I thoroughly agree about the writing being a way to control the world. That’s exactly it. When we write our characters into situations we may have experienced ourselves, it’s very satisfying to write the ending the way we wished it had gone. And I would be privileged to have you for a brother, Roger!

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      1. What a nice proposition to end a sentence with … I am flattered, and very grateful and I thank you for the thought. I guess I’ve now got a new sister, then? Nice. I’ve always wanted one. I guess congratulations are in order!

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  7. xoxo ♥

    I never went through what you did with my mom (or anyone)… but I spent my whole life knowing that my father was disappointed in me. I think that’s part of why I’m disappointed with me. Never good enough. But I don’t think I ever got to the anger stage… I think I got stuck.

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  8. Meg, I loved you before. I love you even more now! The great benefit to hold from this is that it helped to make you into the great writer, and thinker, you are today. Your experience makes me even more thankful that my Mum and Dad never, ever judged me. They allowed me to develop by just nudging the steering wheel every now and then. I am pleased that I didn’t disappoint them. Thank you for reminding me of this. Many hugs, and best wishes for a healthy New Year full of words.

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    1. Thank you Peter. I wish I’d had that growing up. I suppose landing on my feet and finding my path even at a delayed point is something to cheer for. I can truly say I did it all on my own. You see why my Maya is dear to me?

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  9. No wonder we get along. I also had an imaginary twin sister who I loved deeply and was my constant companion. No need to go to Vienna and consult Doctor Freud on this one. This reminds me very much of Anna Kavan, a writer with very deep Mother issues. You really should read her. As for books, well, I don’t know what I would do without them.

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