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The Soul is Lava
The Soul is Lava

The Soul is Lava

I loved playing The Floor is Lava as a kid. Before you ask, yes, I have seen the new Netflix show of the same name. We got about halfway through an episode before we had to stop; it was corny and we weren’t nearly drunk enough to find it entertaining. But playing it as a kid? Fantfreakingtastic. Pillows and couch cushions and books and all sorts of things, strewn about the house so my brother and I and the neighborhood kids could hop around laughing. It’d get challenging as the “rocks” shifted from our movements. Game plate tectonics, floating on the “lava.”

Anger is lava. I am angry all the time. All.Of.The.Time.

I wake after a poor night of sleep, angry that I slept later than intended because I couldn’t fall asleep the night before.
I’m angry that I have such a hard time falling asleep because I’m so wired from the day.
I’m angry that our country is led by a petulant man-child who is literally killing people (this is the nicest thing I could say).
I’m angry at racism, misogyny, inequality, xenophobia, and hated of “other.”
I’m angry that in fight or flight, I freeze. And then I get angry because I can’t get unfrozen.
I’m angry that we’re in a runaway pandemic with no end in sight.
I’m angry that I’m terrified of COVID, because my family literally cannot afford for any of us to catch it.
I’m angry that people think masks are optional, or wear them under their noses (dudes, 1) they’re entirely ineffective that way and 2) you look positively moronic).
I’m angry that despite so many things right, the last 10+ years have screwed us so thoroughly that we’re worried about paying for college. The boys used to have bulging college accounts.
I’m angry that my husband’s industry has been so decimated by the pandemic that it barely still exists.
I’m angry that Costco has stopped carrying the individual containers of low-fat cottage cheese. Yes, it may sound petty, but this one damned near brought me to tears in the warehouse.

Years upon years of frustration and anxiety and uncertainty weighted down by going along to get along and societal and cultural expectations of women and mothers and reverse female puberty has created the unbearable pressure that has made anger is lava. I hardly even feel or notice it anymore, it’s been there so long. It just is, and I just float upon it.

You can’t tell, of course. I tend to go along to get along and I know there are certain societal and cultural norms to which I must pretend to adhere. I rarely lash out in anger and I don’t yell at my students. Occasionally as the upper levels shift on the inner lava, there might be a release of poisonous anger gas, but I am an experienced Jen and can usually predict when that might happen and work to be alone when it comes whooshing out. No point in poisoning the innocent around me.

My self-care practices have helped keep the lava in check for the last few years. Recently, however, the lava has gotten hotter and more volatile. Unfortunately, that happens to coincide with my most efficient self-care practices being unavailable to me. Band? On hiatus until further notice. Massage therapy? On hiatus until further notice. Regular ole’ therapy? On FaceTime until further notice. Time alone in my house? On hiatus until further notice. Setting up camp at my favorite coffeehouse to write and chill? On hiatus until further notice. Gathering with my band geek friends for food, drink, and laughter? On hiatus until further notice. I’m sensing a theme here.

This level of constant frustrated anger isn’t healthy. Try as I might, I’m marinating in stress hormones (looking at you, cortisol!!) and my weight is showing it. I’m working on my comebacks when someone inevitably asks me when I’m due. Just pregnant with anger, my good man, go f*ck yourself. It’s also exhausting, leaving me even less patience than usual for dealing with my usual chaotic life. Not a pleasant vortex; I’m sure I’m a joy to be around at the end of the day.

With little hope for the future and even less to look forward to (oh god, winter is coming), beating back the lava is tough but needs to be done. I can’t keep living like this, I don’t like it. It angers me. See? Vortex. The best I can say and do today is that I’m working on it. Contemplating possibilities and praying the lava heat doesn’t set them ablaze. One thing I know I won’t be doing, though. I won’t be setting up a Floor Is Lava game in the house. I’d more than likely go flying and injure myself.

And that would make me angry.


  1. Jan

    This. Totally everything you just said… but with less actual successes to chalk up. I am oscillating constantly between freeze, avoidance, primal scream, and Japanese rollercoaster screaming in my heart. I am actually quite envious of your accomplishments! Keep going, sister! I need to hear your voice. Thank you for articulating how I am feeling.

  2. Denise

    Just… thank you. Always. Thank you for speaking aloud what so many of us struggle to even acknowledge we feel, let alone articulate. Wish I could offer some brilliant response… but no. Just hugs. Wait. On hiatus until further notice. But we’re e-friends anyway, so e-hugs and know you’re not alone, and your words… and your emotions… are appreciated out here.

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