Lenten Trial: revisited
April 16, 2011 § 1 Comment
Even though I’m not a regularly practicing Catholic, I do still find Lent to be an important moment in the calendar year–a moment meant to be taken seriously in many regards. As an adult Catholic, I tend to choose to observe Lent in grown-up ways, which I have already discussed here. I also have already revealed that my Lenten “fast” was harboring anger against a family member who I felt wronged me, and I have catalogued one encounter during Lent to mark my progress in my “fast.”
I’ve had a second encounter with this family member since the last one in March, and things are going even better than before. I still do not experience the bubble of rage I used to feel…and that is a relief. I’m at the point now where rather than feeling anger, I feel nothing when I see this family member. I used to feel happiness, or at least some form of eagerness to speak to this person (however mild that eagerness was, it was still there). And now, I feel nothing. I don’t know if this is the best it will get, but it’s the best it’s been from my perspective in several months.
Is flat affect, absolutely zero emotional response to seeing this person, preferable to anger? I do still find myself less inclined to want to attend family functions when this person is around, but I went. Twice. And I’ll probably always feel relief when this person is in absentia. But that relief is in response to not having to work so damn hard to be calm and unaffected by this person’s presence. Yes, I am still utterly conscious of my attitude and feelings toward this person. I can only hope that with increased exposure (and perhaps a touch of alcohol), I will eventually be genuinely unaffected whenever this person is invited to family events.
I think, at the end of the day, flat affect is preferable to that bubble of rage. I am less inclined to make a snarky remarks under my breath; I tend to allow comments to roll off my back (something I am woefully inept at); and I don’t pollute the air with any derogatory slanders against this person. Ultimately, I feel myself caring less and less.
I am made better by this exercise. And I hope that, corollary to my self-improvement, other aspects of my life improve as well.
Oh, I agree – flat is better. Yes, that’s the voice of experience you hear. It takes up far too much of my precious energy to feel anything other than flat. And really, do they deserve any more of our energy than we’ve already spent? Nope. Nope. Nope.