I have been learning a few things about anger lately and something transformative is happening. I am finding my voice.
Anger has been emotionally and physically trying to work its way up from deep inside me, where I pushed it down a long time ago.
I didn’t even know I had it, much less pushed it down. As a kid, I was just trying to be “good” and not do anything that would upset anyone. I was told to “be quiet”, and “leave well enough alone” and “don’t make matters worse”.
I remember times when I tried to express my anger and I was laughed at—like I couldn’t possibly be serious. Or I felt humiliated after being ignored while I courageously risked pouring my heart out.
And I also remember the times when I was attacked.
I learned that if I said something that someone else didn’t like, they left, so I tried to keep my Dad and, later, my husband from leaving.
So, way back then, my little girl mind made a decision. Other people were allowed to be angry, but it wasn’t safe for me to do the same. I decided that anger was bad and I was a bad person for feeling it.
On a search for safety and validation, I became the perpetually positive one, the popular one, and the one that never wanted to cause any trouble.
“See, you have no reason to leave—I’m being perfect!”
“Aren’t you ever in a bad mood?”, I remember people asking.
Nope. I’m an anxious, strung-out overachiever, but bad mood—never.
Talk about exhausting.
And then there are the social cues, right? Good girls don’t get angry. Good girls are calm. Good girls please. I decided I should have equanimity at all times.
Ok, so check this out—here’s the dictionary.com definition of equanimity:
mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.
So, I have to admit, being a student of meditation, this is a concept I completely hope to embody—to be the tree right? Solidly rooted in the ground, just swaying with the wind instead of being uprooted by it.
But when I think about trying to be this symbol of ease and resilience in order to prop myself and everyone else up, I feel a deep sadness for my little girl—and even for my big girl—who didn’t know any better.
One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is that if you feel lost, out of touch with your true self, and overwhelmed by the the physical and emotional transformation happening inside of you, you should:
- witness the fear
- ask for, and be open to receiving help
- surrender it to the Universe
Very soon after doing just that, I found myself talking to a very wise person who taught me things I never knew about anger.
Here’s what I have learned over the last 2 weeks (yes only 2 weeks!)
–I am really hard on myself if I feel anger.
And not only because I believed that feeling anger was a bad thing. I have been so afraid to even acknowledge anger, because I was afraid it would be too big. I have seen what other people’s anger looks like, and it wasn’t pretty. I don’t want to be them. Which brings me to——
–Anger is a positive emotion
Ok, this one cracked me up. Literally. I just busted out laughing when she said this to me. But it turns out that anger is an emotion just like all the others, and feeling it and releasing it allows all emotions to keep flowing. (proof of this later)
–Anger is the messenger emotion for the word “no”.
Okay, I am jumping up and down right now and screaming “THIS IT IT! THIS IS IT!! Yes! Yes!”
OMG, I get so excited when I have these “aha” moments.
So if I believed I wasn’t allowed to feel anger, I also believed that I couldn’t say “no.” And if I didn’t believe I could say “no”, I couldn’t see that I was being used.
–I need to be my little girl’s best friend.
I’m very new at taking care of myself, so I’m practicing—trying things out. I finally got up the courage to send a boundary-setting-email to someone really important to me and, after a fleeting feeling of empowerment, tremendous guilt set in.
My little girl was right there beside me saying “what have you done? You are risking the loss of all love and approval by doing this!”
That little girl is a slower-healing part of me—she hasn’t caught up with all this light and love stuff I’m doing now. And the guilt is really just her reasserting the internal prohibition of anger created in the past. All I have to do is take her in my arms and say “I am here. I know you are afraid, but I will sit with you while you feel it and I won’t leave your side.”
I have the chance now to nurture the part of myself that made these survival contracts so long ago.
–My masculine side is my dominant side.
It’s who I am. Do do do. Achieve achieve achieve so I don’t have to feel feel feel. More study? sure! More courses? Done! Be everywhere for every body? Absolutely! Taking a nap or reading a book that is not self help? Not so easy.
–My feminine side is the healing side.
It’s the side of vulnerability and compassion. It needs approval and patience. And it is the side of feeling and understanding around the beautiful process that is happening inside of me. This side feels weak to my dominant masculine side, but the feminine side is nurtured through patience, love and compassion.
Sitting in silence and simply “being” will allow this side of me to evolve, expand and lead to understanding all the parts that make up me, instead of trying to get rid of the ones I judge.
–Anger that is pushed down comes back up at me through other people.
I can use the people who have bullied me and treated me with disrespect as a mirror to see what it is that I still need to be whole. Self respect. Self love. Self acceptance. Then I can ask myself, “how can I learn to give these to myself?” That’s when the bullies go away.
–I agreed with how they were treating me.
So crazy. I blamed the people in my life who have behaved badly toward me, but they could never have bullied or humiliated me unless I agreed with them. The feelings I so deeply held about myself were being reflected in their treatment of me. I was just attracting what I already felt.
–The more I find my voice and set boundaries for myself, the more people respect me.
And the funniest thing is that when I do, nobody even cares! It doesn’t even phase them or throw them for a loop or anything. All in my head.
It takes some getting used to—I have to unlearn, what, 57 year old patterns?
Perhaps the most life-changing and magical thing that has happened during this phase of my healing is this.
The other night, as I felt my anger leave, a huge, warm space inside me open right up where the anger used to be and
all the love I have ever felt for my ex-husband just came rushing in—pure bright light love!
It was soul shifting to feel that much deep-seated love and acceptance for everything we had, and everything we were. It felt like my higher self was seeing his and I suddenly understood! I saw his limitations, and mine. As I let go of my victim story, forgiveness effortlessly appeared and all blame just faded away.
As I lay in my bed that night thinking of him, full of gratefulness and melancholy, I said right out loud. “I love you. I love you.”
And as I said it, I knew that my message wasn’t going to reach him through my words, but through the energy and vibration of my newfound awareness.