Anger, Sadness, and then Anger Again

This is an experience I wrote about during July of 2018—glorious cherry season in Eastern Washington. What’s unique about this experience is that I often find great peace once I’ve realized the emotion that’s present, discover its message, and then act on it. But this time, it took me through THREE emotions!

            Thursday evening, I was away at a meeting while some friends were visiting our home. When I got back, I learned they had picked cherries from our cherry tree and gone with the girls to deliver the cherries to neighbors. Fun!

            But the next morning, when my three year old ran out to pick some cherries for her breakfast, I watched from the window as she searched and searched. Our friends had picked clean every branch of cherries that were within her reach. My heart sank. I loved watching her feel independent as she satisfied her cherry cravings. And now they were gone. I could tell she was on the verge of tears—in confusion of how they could have disappeared over night. I ran outside, climbed up onto the trampoline, and picked a few from some high branches to give to her.

            I recognized my coming emotion—anger. I was pretty upset. Why would they pick all the low cherries? Didn’t it occur to them that those were the only accessible fruit for the girls to pick? Now my kids would no longer be able to enjoy their own harvesting—which was one of the main reasons for us having the tree and our garden. We would have to wait one whole year from now for us to have accessible cherries!

PROBLEM #1: I was feeling angry that someone picked all our reachable cherries.

           Recognizing my anger, I saw the situation as our friends invading our happy bubble of cherry picking. And being that they were still visiting, I didn’t want to be grumpy with them all day, so I took action to release the anger. I re-established our boundary, making our home and cherry tree a safe space.

SOLUTION: I re-created a safe space around our home and our cherry tree by visualizing a boundary around it all.

            The anger moved on, and suddenly, I recognized sadness. I felt devastated that something that brought joy to the girls was taken from them. That joyful experience was now gone. The fun-filled days of picking cherries was over for the year. I was very sad. (This may all seem a bit dramatic for just some barren cherry branches, but we’re talking about an idyllic life upheaval right now!)

PROBLEM #2: I recognized I was feeling sadness.

            I knew sadness brought the message to let something go—and I knew what I needed to let go of: the longing to watch the girls in glee pick the fruit and enjoy it. Again, not wanting to be grouchy with our guests, I decided to let it go.

SOLUTION: I visualized letting go of my hopes for the girls to enjoy the cherry tree for the rest of the year.

            The sadness passed, and I expected to feel better. But I didn’t. I was still feeling grumbly about it. I knew they didn’t maliciously take all the lower cherries. I know it didn’t even occur to them. They were just enjoying picking cherries. Which is why I really wanted to address the situation with them. You know, politely ask that next year, if they pick cherries, to be sure to leave some low ones for the girls. Just to bring it to their attention. But deep inside, I knew that was not the answer. That would not help me feel any better.

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Yum! Now do you see what this was such a big deal?!?

            The whole situation was bugging me pretty badly. I was frustrated that after recognizing my anger and sadness, I was still feeling upset about it. But every time I thought about bringing it up with our friends, I knew it wouldn’t solve this lingering anger.

PROBLEM #3: I was still feeling angry.

            Finally, I asked, “What I am supposed to do?”

            The thought came to me to find a higher branch full of cherries, and tie it to the trampoline so the younger girls could reach it. Aha! I was to take action! To re-establish our place as a safe space and to re-create the accessibility for them! I could do that! And with that plan in mind, my anger left. I felt much better, and did not need to confront my friends about their actions.

SOLUTION: I needed to take physical action to restore what was “taken”–by making a tree limb reachable for the little ones.

            I’ve addressed lots of emotions before, but never have I felt the need to actually physically do something in the situation. It has always been mental work. This was a great lesson to me: the message brought by our emotions can suggest we do any kind of work—mental or physical!

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