Unpacked anger

I have been quiet these last couple months. I am trying to re-locate myself. I have not written because my axis of belonging has flipped — X has become Y, and Y has become X.

If you read my blog, you will come across the same themes: displacement, sexual trauma, the frustration of being unable to create meaningful connections, shame, a sense of longing for home, familial tensions, etc.

All of these are edges of the web that still pin me down. I am still trying to piece together the “why” of who I am, and these are major elements of that. I recognize that I am angry because there are still unreconciled pieces.

In this post, I will tell you more about myself, and highlight the parts that I am (still) angry about.

When my family moved to a distinctly different culture than the ones we grew up in, we took no time to process the transition together. I am still angry about that. We were all trying to survive. While my mother and older siblings were working night shifts at casinos and fast food places, I was forced to learn ‘ad-hoc mothering’, babysitting my 6-year-old brother and 6-month-old niece before school, after school, and until the moment I would lay down to sleep. I had to grow up quickly. I am still angry about that.

I was not taught the specific behaviors that would allow me to be more easily accepted by people my own age. Through mistake after mistake, I had to learn that on my own; none of my family knew what I was going through, or gave me the space to tell them. I am still angry about that. When I moved, I was 12. Because of my impressionability at that age, I was painfully aware of my social shortcomings, stumbling into interactions stiffly, uninformed on which conversational cues to use to continue them, helplessly unaware of how to make people comfortable with me. The question I constantly grappled with from the age of 12 to even now, is how do I make them like me? I am still angry about that. I spoke English perfectly — but I couldn’t speak “the language”. I could speak — but I couldn’t communicate. I became silent because my real voice was not acceptable. I am still angry about that.

I am now 25-years-old. Assimilation has become a science to me as a result of painfully nitpicking at myself for over two dozen years. I am angry about that. Assimilation has become my way of survival in whatever arena I am in: work, friendships, romantic relationships… I become whatever the other person needs me to be. I am angry about that. I have learned to observe interactions between people so acutely that interpersonal dynamics start resembling process diagrams in my head.

Seeing patterns between people like this has recently started weighing heavy on my heart. I am constantly at intersections where I recognize and empathize with the pain of people I care about, and find myself ill-equipped to positively influence them. Yet, I blame myself for lacking the courage to try. Every day has become an emotional battlefield. I am angry about that.

I have lost myself at the over-exposure of my heart and my soul (or is it that I never really found myself, and I’m only recognizing that loss more intensely now?). I am angry about that.

The only way I am now able to relate to someone is through their struggle; everyone else who has anything other than pain to share with me, I reject. Unpacked, unprocessed anger is such a contagious emotion, and it’s especially hard to fend it off when I harbour it within myself.

How can I be free of a habit that I have used to survive all these years? How can I accept anything positive when I have fed off of the melancholy for so long?

A close friend told me recently that I deserve to ask myself why I am so angry — why I choose to stay in that place of anger. Maybe this post is the beginning of that.


Daily Post prompt: Relocate

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My true colours

I’ll tell you what I am;

I am the orange of parched desert sand
the cracks running through like veins.

I am the green of salty ocean depths,
the likes of which you have never explored.

I am the yellow in sunflowers,
the amicable jaundice all over your body.

I’ll tell you what I’m not;

I am not the dichotomous black and white,
the swipes left or right of hasty judgment.

I am not the unforgiving black and white,
the stripes of a prison uniform.

I am not the simple black and white,
the enemy of nuance and true understanding.

I choose to live in burnt orange, enigmatic green, and infectious yellow;

Oh, but most of all, I choose to live in shades of grey.


Daily Post prompt: Nuance

Feeling for the sake of feeling

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I am a sentimental person. I made peace with that fact nine years ago, when I was 15 and having my most profound musical experiences. I have always been governed by Emotions, the most flighty deity of them all.

Even my blog name reflects this. Sentimentia was created to be my own personal space to reminisce, reflect, or break out some prose. It is meant to capture thoughts that are too deep-seated and unhurried for the flurry of everyday lifemy sanctuary of makeshift wisdom.

The word “sentimental” may have negative connotations to it, as Sherlock Holmes is only too happy to say:

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(Anything you say, you fabulous man.)

Yes, if you are a sentimental person, there are some downsides:

  • Having trouble letting go of people and events and things that are meaningful to you
  • Being more emotionally vulnerable than most people; in other words, wearing your heart on your sleeve
  • Routinely being affected by music, art, film, people’s stories about their loved ones
  • Preferring the past rather than the future

In fact, quotations on sentimentality are pretty discouraging—if I were to define sentimentality based on these sayings, it would be:

“sentimentality: feeling for the sake of feeling”

It is:

“to look only at the emotion in it and at the emotion it stirs in us rather than at the reality of it…”

Frederick Buechner

… which is superficial and surface, I know.

I think about the person I’d be if I didn’t get lost inside my own head sometimes…

But then I think, what’s wrong with feeling for the sake of feeling, and to be aware of the emotion something stirs in us? I think I would go stir-crazy if I didn’t have some outlet, some way to channel these whirlwinds and storms occurring inside me. I think about the person I’d be if I didn’t get lost inside my own head sometimes; or what my memories would be like without that sunlit filter my mind applies to them; or the conversations I would miss if I weren’t the type to probe and listen and feel the person out.

There are whole worlds to be discovered. And I wouldn’t have missed out on them for the world.

So, while there are disadvantages, there are absolutely lovely benefits to being sentimental:

  • Being empathetic and compassionate to the superlative
  • Enjoying experiences (like music or sex, same thing) more deeply
  • Remembering small details about individuals
  • Being a great listener
  • Having intense sensory experiences
  • Recognizing the significance of events in your own life
  • Deeper conversations
  • Frequently reflecting and churning little bits of wisdom
  • Knowing that life is a mess full of shades of gray, and being okay with it

P.S. From what I’ve seen so far, WordPress is full of us. Keep writing, folks.

A response to Daily Post’s prompt: Sentimental