five weeks of anger.

On Monday night, I finally ended a five week long internal battle that I’d been fighting, and I wanted to share about it here. This is not easy for me to admit to…just thinking about posting it for the world to read is making my stomach do flips. But since I’m not writing this blog to be comfortable and pretend that I’m someone I’m not, I’m going to get uncomfortable and risk being seen to share about this experience with you.

In the last five weeks, I experienced emotions and had thoughts that I haven’t experienced or had in really a long time, and it was really challenging for me. They’re emotions & thoughts that I’d categorize as being on “the dark side” of life…the Darkness, if you will. It wasn’t the kind of thing that you necessarily would’ve noticed just by looking at me, or even by talking to me, because I’d gotten really good at hiding it…but on the inside, I was definitely the portrait of the quote, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Here’s what happened:

At the end of September, I agreed to do a favor for a friend: I told her I’d do a free photo shoot for her, and asked that in return she credit me wherever she used my photos. We did the shoot and she did as she’d promised and credited me on Facebook when she posted up the photos I’d taken of her.

About a week later, a website posted an article about her and had used one of my photos from her Facebook page — but I wasn’t credited! I messaged her about it, and she said she’d tried to get them to credit me, but they wouldn’t. And when I asked if she’d switch out her current photos for watermarked photos, she said she didn’t want to lose the likes & comments that she already had on the album she’d posted.

Cue the anger.

I was MAD. And while it’s sooooo plain as day NOW, five weeks later, to see that it had absolutely nothing to do with her and EVERYTHING to do with me…in the moment, I blamed her. I wanted a scapegoat. And I DEFINITELY didn’t want to be accountable for my own mistake: I should’ve watermarked my photos to begin with.

In the weeks that followed, I was the epitome of immaturity. In fact, I’d say that I was arguably worse than immature because I was fully choosing to sit in my anger, despite having the awareness that it was irrational and completely ridiculous.

I saw her three times in that five weeks, and each time I was aloof. I was fighting this HUGE war in my head about being authentic with her [and at the time that would’ve meant being mean/angry] or being fake and pretending like everything was fine [which of course to her, it was…I was fighting solo on the peak of my Crazy]. So I chose to be aloof, because I didn’t know what else to do. Oh and naturally, I refused to bring it up with her directly, and “SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE DID TO ME!” was my main justification [yes, I do hear how ridiculous that sounds] — aka I was acting like a 5 year old.

Eric and some of my friends told me everything that I didn’t want to hear [and of course it was actually everything that I needed to hear], and the summary of their feedback would be: it wasn’t her fault; it’s YOUR responsibility to get your OWN photos credited; nobody is going to care about your photography career more than you do and you can’t expect them to; you don’t know what those likes & comments mean to her; you’re being irrational; you’re being childish; you’ll stop being angry as soon as you make the decision to stop being angry; you probably aren’t seeing things clearly since you’re looking at the situation through an angry lens.

WELL, PEOPLE…you were totally right (of course)! 🙂 So thanks for supporting me and giving me your honest feedback, and for still loving me even when I’m acting like a child.

For five weeks…I was the only one brooding. The only angry one. The only Crazy one. The only vengeful one. The only mean one. The only righteous one. I was only hurting myself. And I lived with the self-inflicted pain of that for five whole weeks.

Finally, 2 nights ago, I gathered up the courage to have a conversation with this girl via webcam [because we wouldn’t have been able to meet in person for another week, and I didn’t want to continue dragging it out]. I was super nervous before we started talking, because I didn’t know how the talk was going to go [umm as if I could ever REALLY predict how an interaction with another human being would go?!], and also because I still have lingering beliefs about apologizing being a sign of weakness and wrong-ness, and I only ever want to show up as POWERFUL and RIGHT [I’m rolling my eyes at myself even as I type this…but this is my most honest current reality and way of thinking, so I am sharing it with you].

As soon as she accepted my video request, I led with my apology. And the tears were quick to follow. As I was talking to her, I realized just how guilty I’d been feeling about the way that I’d been treating her, and I definitely felt a lot of remorse for my behavior. I’d chosen to stay angry for so long, but as soon as I finally decided to choose accountability, all of my anger just washed away. It really was like one of my friends had said…“you’ll stop being angry as soon as you decide to stop being angry.” And for me, getting accountable and apologizing to her was what helped me to really truly set my anger down and walk away. It was easy for me to stay mad at her in my head, but when I finally had an open talk with her, I couldn’t leave the anger behind quickly enough.

This whole experience was a real eye-opener for me, and has lead me down yet another path on my journey of self-discovery. One of my most significant learnings was [and I’m completely ashamed to admit it]: I really liked being angry. This has not only been surprising to me…but it has also been a big point of concern for me, and I am still sorting out what I was getting out of being angry, and why I chose to hold on to it for so long. Here are some initial thoughts:

  • I liked being angry because I thought I was in the “right” and she was in the “wrong,” and by staying angry, I could simultaneously hold on to my illusion of “power” in the situation, as well as pity myself [woe is me!] and see myself as a victim for having been “wronged”
  • I enjoyed the drama of it [even though the drama was strictly between me, myself, and I, 99% of the time] and had missed the low lows of emotions that I had so consistently felt in my past [and haven’t consistently felt in over five years], so I welcomed them back into my life with open arms [and five weeks of calendar time]
  • Staying angry was the easiest way for me NOT to assume responsibility for my part in the whole scenario, and justified my resorting to blame and finger pointing instead of accountability [because getting accountable meant that maybe I was wrong about being right *gasp*…and I strongly dislike being wrong…but WAY more on that in the future]

Well, I think these conclusions are sort of redundant, but that’s all I’ve got for now. And I’m a bit wide-eyed as I look at them. They appear to be very rooted in the Crazy. It’s time for me to go and marinate on all of this…

All in all, I’m really grateful that I’ve had this experience now, because I’m clearly learning a lot from it. And I’m extremely grateful to the friend who put up with my shit for five weeks and in the end accepted my apology with ease and grace…thank you, Friend.

I look forward to the continued learnings I’ll have from this experience, and will let y’all know if anything other shocking truths are unveiled in the process!

x Nicole

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