I want to break things. I want to unravel this whole stupid farce of pretending I belong, of trying so hard to adapt, to keep smiling, to submit to this charade for others people’s benefit—to submit to this charade in order to survive. Holiday celebrations from childhood reside in my memory like a great throbbing wound of disjointed impressions, sharp to the touch. Among the family of my first adopters, who adopted me as an infant, I innocently played along. After they relinquished me nine years later and I was adopted a second time by another family, fuck you and your lasagna dinner and Christmas tree with presents sprawling beneath and loud, intrusive voices pounding my eardrums while I drown in humiliation, alone and unseen.
I want to disappear. I want to flee to where I can truly be myself, where I don’t feel reduced to a role to meet other people’s needs. I want to rampage through my memories with a baseball bat—destroy, destroy, destroy what destroyed me!
I’ve been wrestling with rage a lot lately. Rage exercises a strange allure, projecting the illusion of power where I was once powerless to escape or prevent harm, when neither fight nor flight were possible. Rage at unbearable privation and the indifference of those on whom I depended. Rage my avenger, rage my defender: I have earned my rage.
I have earned my rage!
My rage is my own. I claim it! Therefore, I no longer need to be driven by it. Do I want to continue to live inside of rage? Do I want to continue to bind myself to people, situations, and institutions that have not earned the privilege of inhabiting my heart? Now I get to choose.
This is my holiday fantasy, my tale to tell, at play in the field of memory—
It’s Christmas Eve. I crouch in darkness, hidden, waiting, nearby where my adopters are parking their car on this city street aglow with strings of colored lights. I tighten my grip on the baseball bat. They get out of the car and make their way to the house where people are celebrating, where the woman adoption compelled me to call grandmother lives. I ready myself to pounce, my legs trembling with the impulse to run out, leap on top of their car and smash, smash, smash. Smash the windshield, smash everything in sight. Smash the Christmas trees and colored lights and decorations and lasagna dinners and presents spilling over the living room floor. This is my night!
But before I can move, a deeper impulse beckons, unclear at first but strong with the pulse of real strength—not dependent on taking power back from anyone else but on recognizing that I don’t have to give them my power in the first place. Not anymore.
I stand up slowly as insight dawns and the rush of adrenaline subsides. The crisis is over. The catastrophe has already happened. Why continue to live in its shadow? I take a deep breath. I listen to the sounds of nearby traffic, the laughter of children, wind gently whispering through tree branches overhead. Many-colored lights glitter before me like a kaleidoscopic universe. The cold, crisp winter air plays across my face. This is my night. This is my gift to myself: I drop the baseball bat and walk away.
Originally published at AnneHeffron.com