I’m currently reading a lot about compassion in Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh. His basic premise, which I agree with, is that the only way to truly deal with anger is by feeling compassion for the one you’re angry with. I’ve been kind of shrugging this book off as “stuff I know and do already”, as I’ve always prided myself on my compassion and my empathy towards others. And, in a way, my reaction towards my anger towards my sister-in-law 10 days ago cemented my pride in how I deal with anger and how compassionate I am.
This morning I had a dream that upset me so much that I could barely stay asleep; and after my husband left to go to work and I went back to bed, I slept fitfully for another 3 hours before giving up. The dream was simple: my husband’s company was transferring him to work in an office several states away for several months. Since it was temporary, I’d be staying in our house and he would get an apartment. When he told me, I was angry. “How can you leave me by myself,” I asked him. I used every excuse I could think of to get him to turn down the assignment and stay with me. The thought of him not being with me every day for months on end terrified me and I felt like crying in horror.
Finally, I gave up and called a dear friend of mine. She told me that he had been worried about how to break the news to me because he knew I’d be upset. And I suddenly felt bad because all this time I’d be worried about how I’d deal on my own and hadn’t recognized that he also would be suffering.
When I woke up, I was relieved to see that the dream wasn’t true (though I asked my husband, just to be sure), but it stuck with me anyways. And I thought about the friend I had called in the dream, whose husband is currently overseas in the Army. I realized with a shock that what I had been so scared of in the dream was what she was going through right now.
I don’t know how she does it. I don’t think I could. But I hope that, the next time I talk to her, I’ll be a better friend to her than I have been.