Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Anger Cannot Do

I think we want to find something to be angry at.  Particularly in times like these when bad things happen and we want to respond.

Watching my dog seize on Friday night, it was the most violent thing I have ever witnessed.  More, it was the most senselessly violent thing I have seen.  Ever.  And my gut instinct was to figure out what did this to her...and kill it.

I wanted to be angry.  I wanted to have something to be mad at.  It's where my energies went first: vindication.  Coming to the rescue of this dog caught in the clutches of pure evil.  It was excruciating...because there is not a more gentle, special friend on the face of the Earth than this big ol' mutt of mine.  To see a creature so calm, loving, strong, and gentle being thrashed about by something I couldn't see and couldn't stop....Lord, how I longed to find whatever was doing it and just rip it out of her.  Then smash it into a million pieces.  Then cut those pieces into smaller pieces.  Then throw them around and disorient them.  Then pull them back together and burn them to ashes.  Then throw those ashes as far away from here as I could.

I was MAD.  Because something was holding my friend hostage, and neither one of us could do anything about it.  But man, I wanted to.

And you know, we get in this mindset that anger and vengeance is going to change things.  It's going to solve a problem, fix the moment.  In a case like this, we want our loved one to see that we are fighting for them.  We want them to know we are on their side and that this kind of injustice cannot stand.  For it really is an injustice....

Kiira knew I couldn't do anything for her; she didn't even really know what was going on.  I knew I couldn't do anything for her, no matter how much I wanted to.  But I wanted her to think I could and I would...that even though this violence was tearing us both up, I was fighting for her.

I'm gonna fix it, I kept telling her, knowing full well I did not know how.  I'm gonna find whatever's doing this, and I'm gonna kill it.  Knowing, of course, that I couldn't.

We let this anger breed inside us until it becomes the very thing we were fighting against.  We think our anger is going to bring us closer to our loved one, that our righteous quest for victory is going to form this inseparable bond between us as we stand together against the enemy.  We think anger is the answer to our fear that we could lose them, that if we're on guard and ready to defend their very life, the power of our sheer emotion will scare any threat away.

But in honesty, our anger pulls us away from them.  We feel like we're doing right; we feel like we're fighting.  But we're so focused on eliminating the threat that we forget the wounded soldier standing beside us.

Kiira laid next to me that night, lying in my floor as I was close, but not too close, to her.  Anger, this thirst for vengeance, this protector mode I was in kept me hypervigilant, watching for anything that might cause this to happen again.  Watching around her, even watching her, but completely ignoring her at the same time.

She just kept looking at me like I was crazy.  She kept raising her tired head and thumping her tail once or twice, begging me to just reach out and pat her on the head.  Grab her extra folds of skin and fur and give her a good tussle.  Shake her paw.  Look her in the eye and tell her I love her.

That's what she wanted.  It wasn't my anger, righteous and useless as it may have been.  She wasn't thrilled that I was poised to fight for her.  She wasn't honored that I would give up everything to defend her.  She just wanted me to love her.

To lie on the floor and growl with her.  To wrap my arms around her and squeeze her, but not too tight.  To let her lick my nose and dig my fingers in behind her ears (her favorite spot).  She just wanted me to be there.  Not for her, but with her.  She just wanted me to love her.

Love did what we think anger will do.  Anger was tearing us apart; we were near each other, but I was focused on everything but her.  Her little grunting noise that she's spoken to me with for 12 years brought me back.  And love brought us together.  So we weren't just beside each other; we were together.  She, with an invitation to love, saved me from losing that moment with her.  

I think about our world, the violence that's in it.  The injustices.  The tough moments and the tender lives touched.  And I know our tendency to think we can fix it with vindication.  We think the world is waiting for us to stand up for it, to right the wrongs, to take justice back.  To be angry with what's going on...and to channel that anger into a fight.

But what if the world's just looking for love?  What if that person who reached out to you in her tough moments didn't want you to fix it?  What if she just wanted you to be there?  What if the world's not looking for you to stand up for it...but looking for you to stand with it?  What if we gave up anger for love?  Love will bring us together; it will give us back this moment.

(Update on Kiira: the vet called last night.  Her lab work showed a low level of thyroid hormone in her blood that he believed was significant enough to cause seizures.  He is running an additional test to check some different things with that thyroid hormone, then he "fully expects" to take her off of the anti-seizure medicine and put her onto a thyroid replacement medication and see how she does.  I am cautiously optimistic, and of course, this is a highly favorable outcome to the alternative (brain tumor), so I am still praying this is the right answer for her.)

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