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How To Keep Going When You’re Blinded by Rage

Our anger editor weighs in on 2020.

essie davis

I have always been angry. I have been happy too, and sad and confused and delirious and lonely and deeply loved. But there is always righteous anger, simmering just below my surface, waiting to emerge in the face of injustice or cruelty. Maybe that’s why I’ve always been drawn to superheroes and vigilantes, masked men swooping in, swinging their fists for what is fair and good.

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In my youth, I dealt with anger through martial arts, channeling my frustrations all the way to a black belt in Judo. Boxes of trophies still sit in my garage, tucked underneath the plastic Christmas tree. I haven’t donned my gi in over a decade. I think about finding a dojo and resuming my practice, but of course, they’re all closed. I grew up, and I realized that everyone was angry.

I feel the anger welling inside me, threatening to tear my skin and reveal the rage monster hidden under this grown woman suit. I read the news, I doomscroll, and I feed off of the world’s anger. I’m not alone. Everyone else is angry too. Angry about an unqualified religious zealot joining the Supreme Court. Angry about a racist, cruel, and stupid president and his racist, cruel, and stupid government abandoning us to a pandemic with nothing but thoughts and prayers. I’m angry about the Democratic party, who hide their uselessness behind civility and decorum that Republicans have long abandoned.

I read listicles about de-stressing during this trying time. Apparently, I should try yoga or scream into a pillow. I should practice mindfulness and think of all the things I am blessed with. So many people have it so much worse than I do. It doesn’t make me any less angry.

Suddenly, I snap back to reality. My toddler’s clammy little hand reaches for my fingers on the keyboard. His hair smells like the peanut butter still smeared there from breakfast. He pulls my mouse pad off the desk and giggles wildly when it falls on the ground. We press our foreheads together, and he is warm and alive and my job is to keep him that way.

Maybe this is mindfulness, I think. Maybe I need to put down my phone, log off, and tickle this adorable creature that I created. I remember the anticipation of meeting him, of feeling him swim around in my swollen stomach. He has been here for almost 14 months, sometimes crying, sometimes screaming, but mostly smiling. He has the same eyes as my favorite person on the planet, my husband.

He is mine and I am his. And while everything burns around us, I can’t help but feel the world is better with him in it. We can make it better for him. I will make it better for him.

So I breathe deeply. I donate $5 to Rep. Katie Porter. I get ready for my next text banking shift. I refrain from calling the Trump supporters I text “f-cking morons.” I don’t let my rage consume me like a roaring wave: I create a vessel for it inside myself.

Last night, I watched one of my favorite horror movies, The Babadook. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this and go watch it, because I’m about to spoil it. The film follows a widowed mother raising her troubled son, who is haunted by this mysterious malevolent monster. The monster, we come to learn, is a metaphor for her grief and anguish. But instead of killing it or conquering it, she gives him space. She lets him live in her basement and feeds him fresh bowls of worms. That’s how this rage feels.

We all have monsters. We all have rage. The secret, I think, is to know it, to acknowledge it, and to hold a place for it.

(featured image: IFC Midnight)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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