I’m Mad as Hell and Spiritual, Too
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Freedom .
Over the past week, I’ve unleashed the inner Wrath Child that Kelley Harrell (Gift of the Dreamtime) told me needed a little nurturing (meaning, let ‘er rip). She’s one of my newer traits, a spiritual child, who won’t put up with crap anymore and isn’t going to take it, thank you very much. Imagine the movie version of Carrie screaming at the guys who cost me two precious days’ of work on my new book and then didn’t show up at all yesterday to replace the roof that’s been damaged in three hurricanes.
I had just had an interesting conversation with author Christopher Penczak about spirituality and anger, and his comments really made me think. I see this all the time amid very spiritual types, both pagan and Christian: “Oh, I shouldn’t be angry because I’m a spiritual person.” Gosh, does being spiritual mean you can’t be in touch with your emotions?
I thought about that when the roofers contracted by the major home improvement company I’d contracted called to say they’d had a couple of cancellations and wanted to come three weeks early to put my new roof on, the one I’d been fighting with my insurance company about whether my Ivan/Dennis/Katrina claim would be covered. I’d finally made headway and they were sending out a real insurance company employee instead of a storm-chasing contracted-out adjustor who shows up six hours late, complains about how I’m the last job of the day and he just wants to get home, and then refuses to climb onto the roof to check the roof damage.
The roofer then did something that brought up all my old issues and old angers I’d tamped down—a real lesson for me in not swallowing it. He tried to manipulate me. He tried to guilt me into letting him tear off my old roof before the new adjustor arrived because it was convenient for him. He tried to tell me that his time was more valuable than the fact that I’m a single mom with a $31,000 repair bill for hurricane damage when my insurance company was finally considering re-evaluating the roof portion of the damage. The difference in waiting one more day meant about $25,000 to me. That’s a lot of groceries. Oh, but we wouldn’t want my poor roofer to be inconvenienced by me when he’s had two job cancellations for next week and suddenly needs the work.
I spent two days jumping through hoops so I could get my roof before Thanksgiving—or else wait another month—and insurance company sent out an adjustor from Pensacola at the crack of dawn to accommodate me. And yes, I did in fact have roof damage and need a new roof, as she told me after actually crawling around up there. She exited the roof an hour before the roofers were to show up.
They never did.
Okay, be spiritual? Be pissed? I was trying to be “nice.” It wasn’t working.
I couldn’t get anyone—out of dozens of major home improvement company people I called—to return my calls. It didn’t help that in the middle of all my calls, I got a bill for the roof and that the account statement was not in accordance with the financing agreement I’d signed. Around mid-afternoon when I heard back from the sales consultant, who’d been jumping through hoops of his own to find out where the roofers were, who the day before where “already mobilized” and couldn’t delay a day, even if it cost me $25,000. The salesman got to see a different side of me.
Good thing I heard back from the salesman when I did. I was just then poised to climb on top of my roof with fluorescent orange spray paint and scrawl something spiritual to the world, figuring that my protests would come down when my shingles did. But alas, writing [MAJOR HOME IMPROVEMENT GIANT CORPORATION] SUX on my roof is against my homeowner’s association covenants…. I’d gone with the major home improvement company precisely so I wouldn’t have to put up with fly-by-night roofing companies or problems like this, and I’d been willing to pay more for not having that trouble.
I reminded the salesman of the sales pitch that said this barefoot girl would absolutely not find any roofing nails in the yard and what precautions would be taken. In fact, before I sign off on the job, the entire roofing crew will have to kick off their shoes and walk around my house a few times, particularly around where I like to cast my circles. When they return without a single puncture, I’ll sign off on the job.
When I finally heard from the project manager about an hour before dark—just as I drove up to the Destin location of the major home improvement company to buy a skylight—I heard all sorts of tales of woe about the roofers having a flat tire (which apparently couldn’t be fixed in a whole day and somehow also limited use of their fingers to pick up a phone to notify me of their status), how they were having trouble finding my house (but didn’t call—men and directions????), about how they were already at my house going through the roofing materials while I was at driving to Destin, 5 miles away. Strange, when I returned home, they still hadn’t arrived. They never did.
But it felt good to let the anger out of its box instead of that old habit of swallowing whatever was handed to me. I saw the difference right away when I marched into the Destin location and found the first salesman on the job. “I want a skylight, 2 by 4, fixed, I want it loaded into my vehicle, and I’m buying it in the next 10 minutes or I’m canceling the roof job. Can you do that?”
The man gave me a hearty “Yes, ma’am!” and followed through with a real sense of service. Cool. Too bad he wasn’t 30 years younger. I also noticed that as I was walking in and out of the building, people parted in front of me like the Red Sea. I must have been giving off some powerful aura flashes!
But until I let my anger out of the box, nothing was happening for me. The nice Lorna wasn’t getting anything accomplished and was being treated like a doormat. My old pattern was to take it, just take it, and figure I couldn’t do anything about it but feel sorry for myself or have people think ill of me.
Why do spiritual people do this when it comes to darker emotions? Like anger…or envy.
Instead of being openly angry, they swallow it, bury it, hide it, let it fester until it eats them alive. Certainly something I learned in my childhood and later in my marriage. They deal with it in the most unhealthy of ways so they can be nice and they can be spiritual. They feel it as hurt instead of anger because it’s okay to have your feelings hurt but it’s not okay to feel rage.
Sometimes my Southern Baptist guilt takes over. As a recovering co-dependent, I can tell you that the worst thing in the world for those of us prone to martyrdom is the whole Christian idea of suffering and selflessness. Not suffering enough? Okay, I’ll be more selfless. I’ll give a little more until there’s nothing left and I’m a ball of resentment. And I won’t get mad because good Christians don’t get mad.
Actually, they do. So do pagans. But there’s that whole idea that we are spiritual and once we call ourselves truly spiritual, then we are somehow tranquil and mature and not overcome or overwhelmed or the least bit bothered by our human side. We’re somehow less spiritual if we feel anger or jealousy or—heaven forbid—lust.
I hear it all the time from my most spiritual friends. Lisa, a Wiccan healer, kicked herself for months because she’d been injured in a car wreck and if she were really spiritual, she told me, then she wouldn’t have manifested these injuries. Vicki is one of the most incredibly giving and compassionate Christian women I know, and yet I’ve heard her say she shouldn’t feel bad about someone taking advantage of her generosity. (Me, I just want to slap people when they do that to her, yet I have had a hard time standing up for myself at times.)
So what I’ve come to recognize is that my spirituality does not make me “perfect,” with perfection being defined as becoming something no longer human that does not feel angry or jealous or lustful or proud or…oh, yeah, anything that could be a sin, which is a very Christian way of looking at things but has overtones in all religions.
Those feelings, those “sins,” are all a part of being human. We do ourselves a disservice by refusing to acknowledge them and holding them in. It comes out in depression, in high blood pressure, in chest pains, in all sorts of physical manifestations because we don’t acknowledge our darker feelings. If you spend too much time in the “virtues” without acknowledging and balancing the “sins,” there’s no balance.
In a way, I feel bad that my ex got all the compliance from me and the next man in my life will get the fire. He’ll get to see me argue and he’ll see me fight not to withdraw when I’m upset but rather to face off with him and work through our issues as we hit them. He won’t get the “easy” Lorna.
So, just a warning to those who love me: I may get mad, and you’re going to know it but it’ll be better to get it out of the way so we can grow and love each other fully (unless you’re a roofer, in which case, I have no love left to spare). I may get jealous and insecure, too, and I’m not going to kick myself for feeling that because jealousy is a sign of something lacking in my life and my acknowledgement that I want to fill that lack, and insecurity is an acknowledgement that I can’t control what’s coming next. I’ll hopefully feel pride in what I’ve accomplished, because self-confidence has been in short supply over the past couple of decades and I’m just now realizing my worth. I may even feel lazy every now and then but after so many 100-hour work weeks for so many years, I deserve to go play for a change. I may feel greedy for new experiences and living life to its fullest—it’s because I believe in life after birth. And I may sometimes go beyond my limits, whether it’s a box of Mint Milanos or just wanting to know more, more, more. And lust? Well, I think I can explore that with enthusiasm without being promiscuous, and I’m looking forward to it.
The Seven Deadly Sins are deadly not just for being overdone, but for not being dealt with in healthy ways that say we’re human. So I’m going to allow myself to experience all of these darker emotions and understand that being human and spiritual are not mutually exclusive. It’s a more balanced way of living, and I intend to let the waves of these emotions wash through me without retaining water.