It was the day before Thanksgiving. I’d ordered a handmade Wild Huckleberry candle to be shipped to my sister’s house for the holiday. I was planning to light it in memory of Huckster. She called me that afternoon to tell me it hadn’t arrived. I knew I’d been cutting it close with the order, but still hoped it would make it in time. Unfortunately the postman showed up empty-handed. Disappointed, we came up with a back-up plan. I got off the phone with her, feeling relatively OK. It’s just a candle, I told myself. It’s cool. No big deal. I soon realized I did not feel OK. In fact, quite the opposite. I was seething. With my boys playing Xbox upstairs, I quietly slipped out to the garage. I grabbed a bat and a couple pumpkins that still adorned the front porch. I headed out to the backyard. I started whacking. It’s just a candle. As a light rain misted my face, I smashed, hit, pummeled and pulverized those pumpkins until there was nothing left but goo. I turned my attention to the grass. Pounding. Thumping. Thrashing. Over and over again. It was then that the tears could come. I felt a little better.
Fast forward to last week. I felt like the days were a live t.v. event and that I was on tape delay, lagging a few seconds behind—in my conversations, answers, ideas, reactions. I didn’t feel like I was surrounded by a dark cloud – there just seemed to be one hanging out in my head that I couldn’t shake loose. I was even thinking how nice it would’ve been to have some pumpkins around. But with summer just around the corner, there was something else in store.
We met my son’s teammate at the batting cage, appropriately called the Rage Cage, a few miles away. It was a glorious, sunny Saturday. I stretched out in a chair, sunbathing, watching Rassy and his pal hit pitch after pitch. Mo asked me if I wanted to take a turn. Why not? I thought. I grabbed a bat. I entered the cage that pitched softballs. I smashed, hit, cranked and slammed the balls that came at me. With all my power and might, I whacked them as hard as I could. Determined and focused, with all my strength, I let loose on those balls. This time, there were no tears. But again, I felt a little better.
Which got me thinking: maybe sometimes getting emotions out means more than writing in a journal or talking with my mom. Maybe sometimes it involves doing something physical, like swinging a bat. Or pounding a pumpkin. Or striking a softball. With bat in hand, I get my feelings out—I release them— and then it helps me to let them go.
So look out this summer, Rage Cage: I’m swinging for the stars.