Questioning My Feelings of Hate
Trying to love the unresolved question
I had an opportunity to slow down this past week, not only with the US holiday of Thanksgiving (which was very uneventful for us), but also because the preschool whatever-it-is-itis managed to catch up with all three of us. It was not fun. I may have even used the word hate. But we prevailed/ are prevailing.
Being sick forced me to slow down and gave me time to think about a conversation I had with a friend the other day. I made it clear to her how much I hated certain things. I hate this situation…I hated that person…I hate that someone would allow that…
She said, “I can sense how strongly you feel about that.”
It wasn’t that hate was the predominate theme of our conversation. But when I walked away, it felt like that’s all I spoke about. Every time I said I hated something, I sensed this uncomfortable friction in my body. Like static on my skin. And when I left our time together, it felt like I was holding onto a no-good sticky note from our conversation that I couldn’t peel off of me.
While I relaxed in a bath, a place where I can complete my thoughts without interruption, I wondered about my feelings of hate.
What do I do with my feelings of hate once I have them?
I’m not talking about casual hate: The nail salon. Washing dishes. Folding laundry. Peeling potatoes.
I’m talking about when I feel hate in ways that make me feel strong feelings:
I hate that these people are always takers. They never reach out unless they want something from me.
I hate that school and the principals there.
I hate terrorism and antisemitism.
I hate people who hurt children…
I examined my feelings of hate and considered if my hate comes from a lack of understanding—not just understanding the other side or person, but understanding myself. Why do I feel this way? And what do I do with this feeling when I have it? If life is cyclical, surely just feeling the feelings of hate can’t be the end of the cycle. What’s next?
When my son and I build Lego and we’re stuck or can’t find a piece, I always say, “Let’s change our perspective.” We turn around the piece we’re working on or get up and move chairs. Inevitably, we find what we’re looking for. I wondered if I could look at my strong feelings in this way. Could I change my perspective enough to try and move through my feelings and on to the next step in the cycle? If so, what’s the next step?
If we allow it, hate can be an opportunity to think about the why behind the feeling. Why do I hate this person, or institution, or belief system…? And moreover, can I consider if the hate I’m attached to feeling is worth carrying around, inside of me and in conversations? I was hopeful that there was a next step to take after harbouring these strong feelings. I began to believe that the feeling itself couldn’t be the end of the journey. It’s just not possible. There had to be something after it.
I don’t think we shouldn’t feel hate.
I do think we should listen to our hate when we say it aloud or feel the friction from it in our bodies. We can ask ourselves, what can I do with this feeling? What’s next? Surely the simple act of hating can’t be the end of the journey. That’s it? That’s all there is? Just this stupid hate to hold onto?
Everything’s a cycle. There must be a next step. A questioning. A wondering. A humbling. A perspective changing. Possibly to arrive at, maybe, an understanding?
And if we cannot understand, like I often admittedly cannot get myself to do, then maybe we apply Rilke’s wisdom from Letters to a Young Poet (a fantastic stocking stuffer or holiday gift):
"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language."
Maybe hate is not the answer. Maybe it’s the unresolved question in our hearts that we should try and love.
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Photo credit: Mary Beth Koeth