What Happens When We Stop Being Angry?: A small message for my family Day 12

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This is a message for myself, about myself and I believe it matters. Because of recent events involving many in my immediate family, I have contemplated what I could possibly say to reach everyone in question.

The title of this post is a direct result of my pondering and my feelings. It also stems from my impressions after seeing the new movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019). The movie in question is based partially on the works of Fred Rogers, who created the show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968-2001). The movie was phenomenal and I recommend everyone go see it. But I am not here to write a review. I am here because there are many in my family who need to know how I feel and my thoughts concerning our struggles.

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In the movie, Mister Rogers showcases the life of a man name Lloyd, who is very angry and in extension very scared. These feelings came because of his father Jerry, who left Lloyd, his sister and his wife for another woman during his wife’s illness and death. Throughout the film, Lloyd faces these emotions and learns to deal with these feelings in a positive way. I’ve never seen Fred Rogers’ show but I believe this idea was the premise of his life’s work: to face our feelings and major issues in a positive way.

This is not to say one’s feelings do not matter or that there are not consequences for harmful behavior. It simply means we find ways to face these emotions so as not to harm others or OURSELVES.

Part of me wishes I could have seen this show when I was young. From the time I was ten to thirteen, I carried a lot of pain, sorrow and anger. I bottled these emotions up to the point I would suddenly burst in a fit of rage. I kicked a hole in our laundry room wall, I broke several keys on the piano, and I shattered a brush I threw down our hallway. I faced bullies at school the best way I knew how, by reading myself into a stupor. I couldn’t face my parents with my feelings, because it meant I was weak. It meant I had to admit being angry. It meant being vulnerable and exposed.

I couldn’t afford to be any of those things. In my young mind I needed to hold my family together. I prayed and longed for us to be a family again. When we were all together once more against all odds I was very careful not to do anything which I thought would break us. I never told my elder brother how much I longed to be his best friend, even though I knew he was not. I never told my elder sister how much I envied her for being thin and smart, while I struggled with feelings of inferiority because of my weight and timidity. I never told my younger sister how sorry I was for not being a better friend to her my senior year of high school.

And I did not know their thoughts and feelings. We never reached a point where we could. Life moved on. We left home on missions, to college and to be married.

Now I am older and I understand those feelings and longings and regrets mattered. But I now also understand they were too much for a child to bear. In fact they are too much for ANYONE to bear.

Which brings us to the present moment. My dear family, what happens when we stop being angry? What do we see? I know for a fact we all have burdens we carry. Let me tell you what I see. For some, it is like our families are being torn apart. Some feel incredible mental anguish and fear for our children. Others must face the consequences of their mistakes and shame for what they have done. Some have felt so alone, even ostracized for years, not knowing how to be part of our family again. Some are married, others are not. Some of you don’t believe you are worth saving. Others suffer from depression and are tortured by anxiety.
Through our suffering we have common ground.

So I say this. I know we are hurting. I know some of us are so angry. In many ways we are all scared. We are scared of losing each other because we love one another. We regret things we have done and said in our pain and rage.

We must believe in one another. That is why God gave us families. It is because he knew this life is not easy. He knew there would be suffering and trials. Who better to face life and the evils which lie there than we, an eternal family? We have been through worse than this. As this world comes against us, we have each other.

I love all my siblings, my parents, and my new sister and brother in-laws. I love my grandparents, aunts, uncles alive and on the other side of the veil. I DON’T WANT TO LOSE ANY OF YOU.

In the movie I saw today, Mr. Rogers asks Lloyd to share a minute of silence to think of all those who have “loved him into being”. While they sat in silence I did as well. I thought of all of my family and I cried because you are all so precious to me. It grieves me to see you in pain. I feel helpless because I can’t take your sorrow away.

I can tell you how I felt yesterday. I was angry. Angry, bitter and ashamed. Most of all, I was grief-stricken. I wanted to go back to being that child who kicked holes in walls and screamed because the world is not fair. There were times I bitterly sat with myself thinking, “You took my family away from me, destroyed us and beat us. What did we wrong? Why can’t we go back? What do I have to do to make it right again?”

Those questions torment me again.

But yesterday, in the heat of my sorrow and harsh feelings my institute teacher after writing a myriad difficult questions on a board asked us his own question. What do each of these questions have to do with Jesus Christ? With this perspective, I know better. It is because I have seen God’s hand in healing our family time and time again. Remember Jesus Christ. Picture him in your mind. He will heal us, he will bring us together again. His message is Heavenly Father’s message. Families can be together forever.

Mom has told us this quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley many times.

“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us.”

If some of you need time to heal, take that time. If some of you need to be away, stay where you are. But please, don’t act in anger. Anger leads us to say and do things which cause terrible damage to others and OURSELVES. Let us remember to be kind and compassionate.

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(For context, this is from the movie Princess Mononoke (1998) where a God became so consumed by rage and hatred it burned its way through him, turning him into a demon of destruction and death. The antithesis to his being.)

Acting out because of hatred and anger will make monsters of us all if we do not temper our emotions and turn to God.

Remember what Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I say this for myself as well. I am tired of being angry. I am tired of the ugly feelings and being fearful of a future which has not happened yet. I want to look toward our future with faith. I believe our family will be whole again. I believe in all of us.

Please ponder, for any in or out of my family who read this,

Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.- Mister Rogers.

“Why aren’t you married?”: Day 8

(At the temple with my friend Erica)

This post is what you would call the monster. Meaning, this aspect of my life lies at the forefront of my many fears and expectations for myself. But it is an important part of my journey. So, probably with a few tears on my end, I will be honest with my experience concerning this question.

Anything I write here is for myself. But, it is also a part of me I really am ashamed of. As I have grown up I have realized feelings are precious things, and so are experiences: no matter how painful they are, even when compared to other people’s own experiences. But this is one of those cases I have to fight to let myself accept my emotions.

Please don’t think less of me for writing this. Believe me, if I could move forward without writing it I would. But I can’t.

I could talk about how much pressure is out there to be married before or after a certain age. But I won’t. I could also talk about whether or not it is necessary to even be married or if women should pursue careers first. But I won’t.

No, this is about me and my deep, overwhelming desire from a young age to be married in the temple and have a family. And not just to anyone. It must be to someone I feel I can trust my whole self to. I have a firm belief this desire has followed me from before I was born. It isn’t something I can rightly explain.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have had ample opportunity to date and actually have been proposed to. (I forgot about that until recently when I talked to my mom. Moms remember these things.) But it isn’t really about getting married. At least, not at the deepest part.

It is about finding someone who is willing to commit themselves to me in all aspects of life. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. It is about taking on life’s struggles with my best friend, as cheesy as it sounds. Perhaps I am an idealist. Regardless, this dream has served as the center of my life a very long time.

But, despite everything I am not yet married.

And it terrifies me sometimes. It is irrational, perhaps a little selfish but it is real.

I remember being 16 or so during a young women’s conference and hearing a talk by someone in the presidency. She was not married and proceeded to tell us how, no matter if we marry or not, no blessings would be denied us in our lives. I am sure it was a beautiful talk. But hearing her words my heart broke a little.

The reason I felt so anxious, no matter how gently or caringly she gave the message, was because I realized my dream could very well not happen. So, ever since, there has been a small knot of grief locked in my heart especially as the years have passed by.

This little knot has grown throughout my life. Once was when I was 21. I fell for and confessed to a young man who I had dated for about eight months. Once I told him how I felt, he looked at me, told me I was a great girl and. . . just left. Literally. He stepped into his car and drove away. I never saw him again.

I remember being at my sister Jessica brother in law’s wedding reception. I tried hard to stay busy the whole time but afterwards I broke down, because it was painful for me to sit alone as everyone else danced with their partners.

I remember talking to my father when I was 24. I felt deeply impressed I should go on a mission for my church. But I didn’t want to. I looked at my father and told him it was because I was afraid I would be too old to get married when I got home.

Then on my mission I turned 26 and told my mission president what I told my father. But at that time things were a little different. I was in love with one of the missionaries I was serving with.

I remember the fateful moment I returned home and called him and felt perhaps things could work out. It was only a few days later I learned he had a girlfriend. Six months later he was married.

This last summer I attended two weddings for my younger siblings, two for my cousins and one for one of my dearest friends. I am sorry to say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was happy for them, but lonely for myself. I hated the way I felt as I watched them be with their significant other. It was a feeling of being left behind.

Since then I have pictured what the future will be like, watching my siblings have children. While I stay where I am.

That is what it feels like to see your life pass before you, as your dream remains unfulfilled.

Oh gosh this is hard.

So here comes the question, “Aubrey, why are you not married?” The answer is I don’t know. At least not completely.

But I will say this. Despite not knowing, I can now see more clearly who I am and where I stand then I ever have before. I have had many wonderful life experiences in college, Europe, on a mission and through continued work and education.

I have had to fight myself many times concerning this, because I often think if I move forward with my life I will lose everything I ever wanted or that I am giving up. But this is one of the lies which prohibits growth. We can’t sit and wait until our dreams happen before we can move forward.

That is the thing about dreams; we don’t have to wait for its fulfillment to be fulfilled as a person. But I can only see these truths now that I have gone through many experiences.

So, at 29 I look forward on a path which I can’t see the end of and I have a choice. I can stop and refuse to step forward into the unknown. Or I can believe; believe there is something better waiting for me, that I can be happy now, and my dream will come true.

I just need to wait and be happy living in the now. That may be the hardest trial of faith any of us encounter in this life.

But for me, I think I am learning a little more each day how precious the time I have is. Why waste it limiting my attentions to blessings I don’t have yet?

I hope to look back at this post years from now and see how lucky I was to have waited as long as I did.

I also hope I will be grateful for taking the time to face my fears.

Thank you for reading.

DAY 1- Month of Movie Quotes: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Art, no matter its form, is always a personal matter: a journey into the things which influence us on a deeper , more profound level. I believe that art is a manifestation of man’s potential for creation.

After a long leave of absence, I’ve decided starting today to release a series of memorable movie quotes. These are the kind of lines and scenes which often replay in my mind. I believe we all have them: those moments in film which really make us stop and think.

So without further ado let’s begin!

For today, I chose a quote from the newly acclaimed animated film Kubo and the Two Strings. I won’t do a review of this film for awhile, but I will say I loved its story, animation and message on family and courage. It was truly a joy to see. I highly recommend this movie for those who love traditional Japanese folklore and stop motion animation.

(After seeing golden herrings fly overhead)

Monkey– It’s believed that they carry the souls of the departed. Carrying them over to where ever they need to go.

Beetle– What are they singing?

Monkey– Many say, the songs about what happens when we die, how we don’t just disappear. Like Kubo’s paper, we shift, we transform, so we can continue our story in another place. The end of one story is merely the beginning of another.

I love this quote because it speaks the profound eternal truth that death is not the end. Familial ties, love and memories cannot be severed by death. I believe one of the greatest illusions in this life is the illusion of separation. Life truly has a deeper meaning beyond what we initially understand. Beyond what we see with our physical eyes.

For the movie, I think it is especially important to remember this truth because Kubo struggles with separation almost the entirety of the story. From the death of his parents and the murderous intentions of his extended family, his story could be counted as one of the loneliest. But, as one discovers in watching the movie, he is not as alone as he believes. Nor is his family as far away as he thinks.