On not truly being a “peaceful person”

I am an agent of peace, but I am not a peaceful person at heart.

You see my patience. I calmly explain things to someone, things they’ve been told before. I give second, third, and fourth chances to people who ask for them. I allow things to slide, things you might find hurtful or frustrating or infuriating.

You don’t see my violence. It’s in the way my jaw clenches when I have to repeat myself (again), the way I consciously unclench it and force my voice to remain level. It’s in the way each lie and misstep is filed away in my mind, the way those chances I give are laced with mistrust. It’s in the way I swallow pride and anger together, the way I allow words to wash over and away from me without reaction when a reaction is what they want.

I am an agent of kindness, but I am not a kind person at heart.

You see my gentleness. I accept new people into my life when they enter the lives of those who matter to me. I brush off discomfort and social awkwardness to make others feel welcomed. I speak up for giving people chances, even people who I wouldn’t be friends with outside of whatever specific situation we find ourselves in.

You don’t see my ruthlessness. It’s in the way I watch new people like a hawk, recording every mistake and bad choice in case they need to be sent away. It’s in the way I question everything about a new person, my guard always up even as I hug them close. Why would I trust someone who isn’t mine, who wasn’t brought into my life by my own choosing? It’s in the way I knowingly allow others to try and fail at life, rather than stepping in with guidance and support to get them through hard times. Sometimes I take great pleasure in someone’s failure, even as I help them stand back up.

I am an agent of calm, but I am not a calm person at heart.

You see my serenity. My voice and mind are so quiet and still, my ears open and listening to other’s opinions before making my own. I sit to myself and seem at ease, my eyes skimming a book or my phone or even the crowds around me. I hum along with the radio and let traffic just be traffic, steadily making my way to my destination without issue.

You don’t see my anxiety. I judge others on their opinions, and sometimes my silence is less about listening and more about deciding if they’re worth speaking to at all. The quiet ease I show is often a mask, as inside I’m screaming and aching or empty and lost; my depression is quiet, too, you know. My fingers tell everything to my journal, every honest and hateful thought; I filter nothing from myself, and the words I write are drenched in loathing. I move from place to place and goal to goal with very direct intent, and my decision to flow with and around life’s “traffic” is the reason I get what I want more often than not; people do my will long before they realize I want it done.

I am an agent of darkness. We all are.

I used to be so frustrated with myself. I thought I was broken, that something in me was violent and feral and nothing like my mother’s groundedness. I thought my actions meant nothing when my feelings and thoughts were so dark and negative. It took years to recognize that the choice of peace and kindness over anger and violence wasn’t meant to be easy. The good in me is the desire to continue choosing peace, to continue making the harder decision to be kind, to continue walking softly through this life. Making a choice to be peaceful when it goes against gut reactions is “being the bigger person”, struggling for maturity when instinct screams for anything but.

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