Letters of Vitriol, Recognition of Humanity, and Messy ‘Ole Me

I got really mad this morning.

I felt that an injustice was being done to my husband.  One that has some historical roots to it.  One that has a bearing on some of the larger story of our life.  (As an aside, this had nothing to do with work….  Even I am smart enough to keep my nose out of issues in the Navy). 

And I was mad.  I wanted to take someone down for it.  I wanted to yell and scream.  I was using language that I only use when I am seriously channeling my  mother in a fit of righteous indignation.  And my mother had some language, folks.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that by now.  I was drafting letters and rehearsing conversations in my head where I would put people in their place and they would quake in the presence of my awesome command of the English language and my projection of force ashore (did I get that term right??). 

Husband didn’t want me to.  He didn’t want to take any action.  He said to let things lay as they were.  But I couldn’t just not take action.  So I made a phone call (calmly).  Left a message.  But that didn’t seem to pack the punch I had hoped so… 

I sat down to write a letter…  A letter designed to express my anger and disappointment.  A finger-pointing, red-hot, letter of vitriol.  And I revelled in it.  I mean….  I RELISHED it.  It felt SOOO good to focus anger at a single point and to compose a coherent message around that point and to imagine the response there.  The POWER I could pretend I had while writing it.

I got it finished and it was GOOD.  It was JUICY.  It was appropriate, but pointed.  It was virulent and scathing.  But I did not send it.

A few moments after I was finished writing it, still trembling from the thrill of it all, the phone rang.   I knew from the caller ID that it was the individual who has served as our messenger and go-between in this process, and that happens to be someone whom I have always particularly liked and respected.  I answered the phone and couldn’t help but smile and say, “It’s so good to hear your voice again!” 

And that was it.  My anger was gone.  The righteous indignation that I had felt so entitled to a breath before seeped out of my teeth when I smiled.  And suddenly I was simply a collaborator with this mediator to the process trying to find a solution.  A potential solution was proposed.  Promises were made to explore the option and I hung up the phone feeling…  Peaceful.

A mere seconds before I was reveling in righteous indignation, and now here I was with egg on my face standing not with two smoking barrels, but breathing a sigh of gratefulness for people in my life who I know will go to bat for us even though those particular people happen to play for the ‘team’ to whom I had just finished writing my letter of vitriol.  In the second it took for me to hear a real human voice and to picture this man who I like and respect in the place of the enemies I was concocting in my righteous indignation mode, I was totally disarmed.  My perceived ‘enemy’ became a real person to me again, and I couldn’t be mad in the face of someone who shared in the messiness of humanity right along with me.

So I sighed.  And I smiled.  And I felt relieved that my letter of vitriol wasn’t sent, but strangely I still felt glad that I wrote it.  I feel glad that I got it out of my system.  I feel grateful that for a second I had an enemy to focus my reserves of energy and anger and emotion on.  Yes, it’s great that I didn’t hang myself in the process by putting a stamp on it, but the catharsis of it all isn’t lost in the loss of the anger.

So I’m sitting here now, just laughing at myself.  Laughing at how easily I’m disarmed.  Laughing at how angry I was.  Laughing at how big of a mess I am.  I was apparently so desperate to be angry at SOMETHING that I feel better after having written a useless (but seriously beautifully crafted) letter of vitriol.  I’m laughing at the beauty I find in the realization of the humanity of our ‘enemies.’  I’m laughing at my delight in analyzing the layers of the situation and my reaction to each of them.

I don’t know if in the end I’m going to feel like my husband wins out.  It’s a complex situaton with no easy answers.  It’s entirely possible that a week from now I’m going to feel like sending that letter once again (though I may amend it with some good words for those who have gone to bat for my husband in the process).  I’m laughing at my bull-headedness and insistence of taking on the situation despite my husband wishing otherwise, and I’m hoping that maybe he’ll see the value in a meddlesome wife who at least is cool-headed enough to not immediately send her letters of vitriol.

Ahhh…  but it sure was fun to write….

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5 thoughts on “Letters of Vitriol, Recognition of Humanity, and Messy ‘Ole Me

  1. I write those letters. I used to send them before I’d taken some time to cool down and come back with a less hate-filled heart. Then I looked like a real #ss. 🙂

    I think writing is always best when there’s emotion backing it. Passion shows, and we get our point across. But it’s good sometimes just to have that outlet for venting.

  2. I have a lot of drafted letters for certain military personnel also, if not written on paper they are done so in my head! Doing so does help get the anger out and vent, without looking like a crazy navy spouse!

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